Performance » Music

Take A Trip

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Ready or not, autumn is almost here. Break out the cozy sweaters and warm sports coats, boots and best winter loafers. Summer has had its last hurrah. And, as you know, local arts organizations are getting ready to launch their 2014-2015 seasons.

Oh, you didn't know? Well, don't feel bad; you're not alone. This time last year, I hadn't even set foot in some of the city's most cherished performing arts venues. That all changed when I found out about IndyHub's Passport to the Arts and was persuaded to purchase a subscription.

Passport to the Arts, which is presented by Lilly, was created to address the dearth of young people (including yours truly) who attend fine arts events. Apparently, we're all too busy browsing Internet memes and watching YouTube videos about cats (both worthy activities!) to make it to the theater every once in a while. Luckily for us, the Passport program provides a way to make the Indianapolis performing arts community accessible, both financially and otherwise, to young professionals. Don't worry: you don't have to give up your cat video fixation.

IndyHub's 2013 Passport to the Arts holders kick off the season with a special participatory art project. - TESSA TILLETT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Tessa Tillett Photography
  • IndyHub's 2013 Passport to the Arts holders kick off the season with a special participatory art project.

For just $100, Passport subscribers receive tickets to four shows at four outstanding venues: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Dance Kaleidoscope and the Phoenix Theatre, plus a highly anticipated exclusive event at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In case you never passed second-grade math, that's only $20 a ticket, and the ticket is only one part of what's included in a Passport subscription. Subscribers are also invited to an exclusive behind-the-scenes reception before or after each show. IndyHub brings in the artists, directors and casts to discuss the process of creating the show and their experiences as professional artists, giving subscribers the inside scoop.

Ivy Tech's culinary and hospitality administration students will plan the menu, prepare the food and stage the event, while Sun King Brewing Company and Monarch Beverage Co. will provide a little social lubrication.

The program gives us newbies to the arts an opportunity to be exposed to them, enabling us to learn more about what may or may not be unfamiliar art forms and encouraging us to -- hopefully -- one day become enthusiastic arts patrons, creating a next generation of audiences.

Karissa Hulse, IndyHub's director of marketing and programming, explains, "This isn't intended to be a series that people live in for 10 years. You might be a subscriber for one year or two years or five years, but this is a step in somebody's progression of exploring the arts community. We see the Passport sometimes as introductory; sometimes it's just exploratory."

Hulse explains, for example, that somebody might be completely new to Indianapolis or just really new to the arts. So the passport is effective for audience development. And she's all about wanting to showcase the energy, fun and excitement of the arts community in town."

With sponsors including Ivy Tech, Sun King Brewing Company and Monarch Beverage, IndyHub provides both insider-only experiences at arts organizations and tasty refreshments at each Passport event. - TESSA TILLETT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Tessa Tillett Photography
  • With sponsors including Ivy Tech, Sun King Brewing Company and Monarch Beverage, IndyHub provides both insider-only experiences at arts organizations and tasty refreshments at each Passport event.

IndyHub, a local nonprofit that works to connect 20- and 30-somethings to Indianapolis and to one another, is the brains behind Passport to the Arts. Now entering its seventh Passport season, the organization pretty much has the formula for awesome down pat, but that doesn't mean IndyHub is afraid to mix things up. Some changes this year include the aforementioned brand new exclusive event and a free launch party.

In an intentional effort to incorporate the visual arts into the Passport series, IndyHub has added a new Passport exclusive event in collaboration with the beloved Indianapolis Museum of Art. However, while the four returning passport destinations are pretty straightforward (nosh, imbibe and then enjoy the show), the IMA exclusive remains a bit of a mystery. Hulse cryptically says that she can't yet disclose the details but promises only the best.

"It won't just be art on a wall in a gallery," she says. "There will be a performance element even though it's obviously not a performance venue like our other partners." It will also be a truly exclusive event, not simply an early viewing of an already-planned exhibit for the general public. "We're creating something new that no one else will have access to," says Hulse. "We're incredibly excited about it."

If you're on the fence about becoming a Passport subscriber, or if you just want to see what all the fuss is about, pop into the Indianapolis Artsgarden at 5:30 on Sept. 22 to attend IndyHub's official launch party for Passport to the Arts. (It's free, by the way.) Each of the participating arts organizations will be featured to give you a taste of what the Passport has to offer, and complimentary snacks and a cash bar should be more than enough to keep you preoccupied in the meantime. The launch party will officially kick off ticket sales, and you'd be well advised to get yours early because they're bound to go fast.

This Passport won't get you past the TSA, but you'll get a tour of some of Indy's best fine art offerings. - COURTESY INDYHUB
  • Courtesy IndyHub
  • This Passport won't get you past the TSA, but you'll get a tour of some of Indy's best fine art offerings.

"I do expect we'll sell out," Hulse says. "We do every year."

Having had the Passport experience and having gone to all five events last season, I can now say with authority that I'm not even a little surprised to hear that. Whether I was knocking back a glass of Sun King's Wee Mac or inconspicuously sneaking extra Ivy Tech-prepared hors d'oeuvres into my purse, I had a fantastic time. And that's to say nothing of the opportunity to hear firsthand the thoughts of prominent arts directors such as David Hochoy and Krzysztof Urbański. I could try to describe the actual performances, but I know well from experience that when it comes to the elegance of a single leg extended, or chords so powerful they can literally be felt, or the sharp pang of a truth that comes only from fiction, it's just better to experience it for yourself.

Hulse says it best when she asks, "Food, drinks, art -- what else do you need?" She laughingly answers her own question: "People, we need people."

Do yourself a favor and make sure you're one of them.

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