South Central ArtsWORK Indiana Helping Forge a Stronger Arts Community

Author Nadine Pinede will tell you that, as a writer one becomes rather used to "working in isolation." While the quiet solitude of the creative process is something many artists are familiar with, Pinede is certain it can also be a hindrance in developing a career.

Pinede is the artist facilitator for the South Central ArtsWORK Indiana meeting monthly in Bloomington. One of two satellite programs of ArtsWORK Indiana's Creative Networks project, South Central provides opportunities for networking, sharing, and learning.

"ArtsWORK Indiana's series of regional workshops on careers in the arts for people with disabilities helped provide some of the impetus for developing the satellite sites," said Jane Harlan-Simmons, research associate at the Indiana Institute on Disabilities and Community (IIDC). "For people with disabilities, transportation can often be a significant challenge. The satellite program helps us reach beyond Indianapolis and provide face-to-face programming for all people interested in careers in the arts."

Partnering with the City of Bloomington through its Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD) and IIDC, ArtsWORK Indiana set about expanding the Indianapolis workshop model. The first step was securing Pinede as the artist facilitator.

"Bloomington feels like a natural location, with lots of artists, but also a place with a very strong level of community support," she said. "When they told me the artist facilitator had to be a person with a disability, I was a little concerned. I have what many consider an unseen disability, but from the moment I came to the first meeting I felt welcome and at home. That was the impetus for me getting more involved."

It is that level of support and encouragement Pinede and Harlan-Simmons want to share with others interested in careers in the arts. It is also something they hope to expand upon through the development of a mentorship program currently under funding consideration by a local funding source.

Pinede says attention to social justice and the arts makes the ArtsWORK program special. Whether artists come for direction and networking, or more in the role of mentors, sharing ideas on how they have worked through their challenges makes a very real difference.

"We had brought Indianapolis artist Nina McCoy here with several pieces of her artwork to share her story with us, and it was very inspiring," Pinede said. "This is the sense of community we have in the arts. The force that keeps people working together is very strong, and this lets people know that their work matters."

ArtsWORK Indiana is a partnership program with the Indiana Arts Commission, VSA Indiana, and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. The program has funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California in Los Angeles.  For more information, visit