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A Tasty Trip to the IMA



Certain arts organizations -- such as the Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra -- have been a part of IndyHub’s Passport to the Arts program since the very beginning. And while that’s an admirable position to be in, there’s also a little bit of glamour to being the new kid on the block. Making its passport debut this year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is the newest organization in the season lineup and the most mysterious. IndyHub has been very tightlipped about what exactly this season’s event at the IMA will entail, and when asked for details, Scott Stulen, the IMA’s first-ever curator of audience experiences and performance, is also slightly coy.

Citing a desire to fly a little bit by the seat of his pants, he hints that there will be a few surprises waiting for passport subscribers at the "Art Bites" event. What he can reveal now is that there will be “snarky, snarky” trivia, a large spinning wheel à la The Price Is Right, and something called “Power Point Karaoke.” There will also be a variety show and “B-Movie Bingo,” which Stulen says is “kind of like Mystery Science Theater 3000 but with bad action movies.” As if that weren’t enough, Know No Stranger, the masterminds behind Optical Popsicle, will be popping in for a quick performance, and mini-tours of the grounds will be in order. Stulen describes it as “a sampling of a lot of different tastes” because the IMA does a lot of different things, a fact that often surprises people.

Passport to the Arts holders will get a taste of the IMA's new outreach offerings, from movies to events that activate the museum's 100 Acres, at the exclusive "Art Bites" event. - COURTESY OF INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Passport to the Arts holders will get a taste of the IMA's new outreach offerings, from movies to events that activate the museum's 100 Acres, at the exclusive "Art Bites" event.

He explains that many people think of the IMA as a wonderful destination … to visit once a year. But he’s trying to change that perception, highlighting the IMA’s vibrant lineup of events. “It’s almost weekly that we’re doing something,” he says, noting upcoming events, like one dedicated to hip-hop culture and another one that’s March Madness-themed. In fact, the IMA just announced a $1,000,000 gift from the Efroymson Family Fund to broaden its experimental programming. It’s especially important to Stulen that passport subscribers see this often-unsung side of the IMA.

“We want it to be very immersive, very interactive, with that group. These are people that may not be coming to the museum, and we want to give them a taste of what we do, things they might want to come back to later in the year.”

Just in case passport subscribers take Stulen up on his offer to return to the IMA -- and how could they resist? -- there will be discounted IMA memberships and tickets to their glitzy New Year’s Eve bash available. Just one of the innumerable perks to being an IndyHub passport subscriber.

Stulen is excited to diversify the IndyHub lineup—which has until now been exclusively performing arts organizations—and to interact with Indianapolis 20- and 30-somethings. “[Passport to the Arts] is a good idea, and I’m glad that we’re a part of it this year. I was really thrilled when IndyHub asked us to be a part of it. The program is wonderful, and it’s a good opportunity for us to break some of the perceptions of what the art museum is about. And it’s kind of why they hired me, to appeal to a younger demographic.”

Stulen’s particular skillset makes him a natural fit with passport program’s goal of exposing a younger demographic to the arts. He’ll be emceeing the night of the IMA’s event, promising to keep the atmosphere “really playful and gamelike.” But then again, if you’re the brains behind something called B-Movie Bingo, that’s probably not too difficult of a task.


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