December 13th, 2016

Pre-Enactment Theater is Coming to Monon 16

by Emily Vanest

Donate to #PreEnactIndy here. Casting a vision

Picture a sunny autumn day in a bustling urban neighborhood. You step off your front porch, greet your neighbor, and stroll down the street to your community coffee shop. As you sit outside the cafe, you overhear the two senior citizens next to you discussing their mentoring program and their chess strategy. You smile as you watch a group of children in school uniforms playing in the leaves as they walk to their elementary school down the street. The florist across the alley props her door as she sets out buckets of fresh flowers for sale. Business people on cell phones pass neighbors pushing strollers to the park down the street. There are no vacant lots or abandoned storefronts. No one left out or displaced. You  and your diverse community feel a part of something alive, creative, and inspiring.  You are proud to live in Indiana.

Behind the scenes

In the Monon 16 neighborhood, this is not the current picture. Over 19% of residents are unemployed, 32.7% live below the poverty line, and 31% of residents over age 25 do not have a high school diploma.  Abandoned housing is a plague and almost every commercial property is vacant. It is a community that needs reinvestment.  It is a community that needs help to reimagine what it ought to be.

Setting the stage

Our stage will be the entire three block commercial stretch of Monon 16.  Set designers and property owners will make both temporary and permanent improvements to the physical structures to depict a healthy neighborhood. These physical structures will serve as the setting for actors and neighbors to engage in site specific and interactive performance, to help the community envision a healthy neighborhood.   We will work for 12 months with local actors and set designers from large and small theater companies, and collaborate with visual artists, community stakeholders and three schools to perform visioning exercises.  This work will help neighbors plan for the future by re-envisioning the Monon 16 area “the way it ought to be”.   Instead of economic development at the cost of displacement, Pre-Enactment envisions a just, equitable and vibrant neighborhood where everyone is included in economic prosperity.  Rather than dwelling on  the past through “re-enactment”,  we will “pre-enact” a new, vibrant commercial corridor that serves as hope for the future. The 12-month-long series of community visioning sessions and creative placemaking activities along 16th Street will culminate in a huge, day-long public event on October 7, 2017.

After the curtain falls

Unique and vibrant communities benefit the whole city. Great visual and performance art sets can spur the very best community and economic development. High-performing schools, great transit opportunities, and distinct community gathering spaces and events offer residents a walkable, vibrant community where everyone knows they belong. We can’t wait to see actors, artists and designers replace blight and vacancy with active businesses that the neighborhood wants and needs, that are accessible to the whole community! Pre-Enactment Theater has the potential to spur creative neighborhood development across our country. This Indianapolis theater and arts collaboration is the first of its kind and will serve as a national model for creative placemaking and neighborhood revitalization.

Be a patron!

To make this project a reality, we need your support!  Every dollar that you contribute will be matched by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA).

You can make your gift clicking here. When you give to this campaign, your contribution will go farther with the match from IHCDA. If you want to support this important project, but prefer not to make a gift online, please contact Pam Allee at

You may mail checks — made out to “Harrison Center for the Arts” with “PreEnactIndy” in the note — to Pam at:

Harrison Center for the Arts
1505 N. Delaware St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Please note: checks must be received and processed prior to the end of the campaign on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

And don’t forget to tell your friends and family to support the campaign!!