Arts and Culture

Sharing world-class arts and cultural opportunities with Indiana communities

The arts and humanities are a critical part of community, contributing to our understanding of the human experience that rings familiar and unfamiliar. Through our partnership with the IU Arts & Humanities Council and more than a dozen departments and programs, rural residents are crafting their own narratives and reimagining a creative horizon that is both individually and collectively fulfilling.

Fostering appreciation for the arts in schools

Inspiring local students to ascend to new creative heights, the Jacobs School of Music conducts performances and collaborative events by the Jacobs Concert Band, Latin American Music Center, Reimagining Opera for Kids, Kids Compose, Ballet, Classical Connections, and Singing Hoosiers at area schools, public venues, and local festivals. Their “side-by-side” concert series connects Jacobs students practicing and then performing alongside high school musicians throughout the region.

A grand experience.  They left inspired.  You gave them new dreams to dream.

Bonnie Harmon, Salem Middle School band director

Theatre Cabaret

The IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance produces a theatre cabaret for area schools. The cabaret is written and performed by IU theatre students and features monologues and songs that express their dreams and struggles, which inspire lively discussions with local students about choosing arts majors, planning for career paths, and balancing college life.

Creating a vibrant sense of place

Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design and J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program faculty and students are collaborating with local residents in Huntingburg, Salem, and Columbus to enhance their community streetscapes. These projects are designed to create opportunities for community participation and gathering, initiate new uses for underutilized spaces, improve visual appeal, and increase local pride.

Rural arts series

Connecting university resources with rural community assets

We host traveling state art exhibits throughout small towns in southern Indiana, including traditional art curated by Traditional Arts Indiana and contemporary art curated the IU Grunwald Gallery. Exhibits feature IU faculty and student art as well as local community art. They are often held in nontraditional public spaces with high local traffic, and they are accompanied by artist talks and community discussions.

Description of the video:


[Text Animation Appears: Indiana University Presents]

[Video: Graphic of IU trident and text appears in top left corner of screen. Students from the Jacobs School of Music sing on stage in the auditorium at Southridge High School. They perform “Hamiltunes,” a sing-a-long version of the Broadway musical Hamilton.]

[Text Animation Appears: IU’s Center for Rural Engagement and the Arts and Humanities Council…]

[Video: The same students sing the same song on stage at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.]

[Text Animation Appears:…have expanded their arts and cultural offerings to Indiana communities.]

[Video: Looking out the window of a moving car as large empty fields pass by.]

[Video: The exterior of Southridge High School in Huntington Indiana.]

[Text Animation Appears: One project “Hamiltunes” is a sing-along musical experience.”]

[Video: A large hallway inside Southridge High School where there is a flyer advertising “Hamiltunes”.]

[Video: A group of people walking towards the entrance to the auditorium at Southridge High School. Two people hug in greeting.]

[Text Animation Appears: “Hamiltunes” is based on the hit broadway show “Hamilton.”]

[Video: The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is full of people sitting awaiting the show. A group of people look for seats.]

[Text Animation Appears: “Hamiltunes” helps build community by bringing together a diverse audience.]

[Video: A medium close shot of audience members sitting while awaiting the show to start. A woman reads the program.]

[Video: The Jacobs school of music students sing on the stage at Southridge High School.]

[Text Animation Appears: This show highlights social issues and ideas that are still relevant today.]

[Video: The audience at Southridge High School sit in the auditorium closely behind the conductor as she directs the singers.]

[Video: The Jacobs school of music students sing on the stage at Buskirk-Chumley Theatre and make expressive gestures.]

[Director of the IU Arts and Humanities Council Ed Comentale speaks as voiceover: We agreed that we were going to mobilize the arts as the basis of…”]

[Video: A wide shot of Ed Comentale on stage with the singers sitting behind him at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as he introduces the show.]

 [Video: A medium shot of Ed Comentale on stage with the singers sitting behind him at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as he introduces the show.]

[Words appear: Ed Comentale, Director, IUB Arts and Humanities Council.]

[Ed Comentale continues…dynamic community in the city of Bloomington. And we also declared ourselves committed to building bridges between campus and community arts. And that's what we've been working on. Thank you.]

[Video: The full auditorium at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as audience members applaud.]

[Text Animation Appears:”Hamiltunes” teaches valuable American History lessons through popular music styles.]

 [Video: A wide shot with the back of the heads of the audience in view as the students continue their performance at Southridge High School.]

[Video: A medium close shot of the audience at Southridge High School singing along to the music.]

[Video: The singers on stage at Buskirk-Chumley Theater finishing a song and putting microphones down.]

[Text Animation Appears: This show brings a big-city theatre experience to small-town life.]

[Video: Wide shot of theater at Buskirk-Chumley Theater. On stage Mayor of Bloomington John Hamilton speaks.]

[Text appears: Center for Rural Engagement, Arts and Humanities Council]


Community members writing during a poetry workshop.

Multi-generational creative writing programs

The rural creative writing program deepens residents’ creative engagement through workshops at high schools, public libraries, and senior centers throughout the region.

Theater staff pose at the concession stand prior to an IU Cinema film screening.

Film screenings and workshops

We connect IU Cinema and filmmaking groups to establish film guilds in each town, curate cinema series that reflect the backgrounds and interests of each community, and provide training and guidance for aspiring filmmakers.


IU faculty member reads poetry to a group of high school students in Brown County, Indiana.

Artist and writer residencies

Campus artists and writers join partnering rural communities for month-long residencies during which they have space and time to practice their craft as well as lead community workshops, teach public school students, host open studio hours, and participate in local exhibits.

Create thriving rural communities with us