Better Beginning

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Time off over the holidays is great. There's plenty of time to schedule family events, get last-minute gifts and see old friends. It's also given me plenty of time to immerse myself in the annual bevy of year-end, best-of lists. As usual, I disagree with all of them. But that's what they're meant for, and I've never been one to go along with popular or purposefully unpopular opinion anyway.

So, in lieu of the year-end, best-of listicle or a missive about how frustrated they make me, I've been spending my downtime thinking about something more positive, more active. I've crafted a little plan to invest my time differently, to take better advantage of Indy's new normal, a highly active cultural scene.

Here's my to-do list for getting my knees deeper in the arts in 2015.

Ben's hope is that exploring and celebrating Indy's cultural output shines a little bit of light on what is possible in our community and in us. - COURTESY OF GREG ANDREWS
  • Courtesy of Greg Andrews
  • Ben's hope is that exploring and celebrating Indy's cultural output shines a little bit of light on what is possible in our community and in us.

Make Art

Working for the Indianapolis Art Center, I have unfettered access to hands-on art classes, but I didn't take advantage of that perk last year. This year, I'm going to get outside of my digital comfort zone and take a ceramics or silk-screening class. I'm going analog, and I'm going to like it. There are a slew of other spots in town that offer intriguing ways to learn new skills, from Crimson Tate's sewing classes to Deckademics' deejay instruction.

Maximize My Membership Benefits

I'm a longtime IMA member, and the new admission fee is making that seem even more desirable this year. Yes, it'll save me money on admission fees, but I also want to dive a bit deeper into the range of programs and opportunities that membership provides. Whether you're a WFYI totebag carrier or a Conner Prairie member cardholder, membership is a great way to drop any excuses you might have had for staying home when an event seems interesting.

Listen To More LIVE Music

In my salad days, I went to see live music more nights than not. For various reasons -- family, job, a few gray hairs, some (or a lot of) hearing damage -- I collect fewer hand stamp imprints than I used to. Vinyl is nice, but bass vibrating through the floor is often better. Venues I'm pledging to visit in 2015: The Hi-Fi (such good sound), the stylish White Rabbit Cabaret, the Hilbert Circle Theatre, and some of the up-and-coming all-ages venues that Seth Johnson is always hyping.

Reconnect With the Written Word

I have a degree in English, and I haven't read a novel in years. (This is a humiliating disclosure, but admitting the problem is the first step, right?) I'm going to start slow and get some good literary magazines from PRINTtEXT, but I fully intend to make Indy Reads Books a more regular stop. Less iPad more literature in 2015!

Only Connect

Indianapolis gets more interesting all the time. And the more I get to talk with creative people, the more curious I get to meet new people. Writing my Local Mixmasters posts has given me the chance to talk with new people -- and to talk with people I've known for years in new ways. I'm hungry for more conversations like that, where we talk less about work and more about creativity itself and how it intersects with the most important things in life. So, I'm aiming to have real conversations with more people in the coming year. All we have is each other.


In this space, I'd like to keep amplifying really great things. I'm not trying to be an up-with-everything writer, mind you (as anyone who knows me knows, perhaps, too well). My hope is that exploring and celebrating Indy's cultural output shines a little bit of light on what is possible in our community and in us. Happy 2015, friends!

And a bit of Otis to send you into your celebrations in style:

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