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Newfields announces $21.7 million in grants and gifts
Guests to Newfields will see changes around the campus right away.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.- Newfields announced a cumulative $21.7 million in grants and gifts from foundations, private donors and public entities. This funding will go towards key infrastructure upgrades for The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres and The Garden to increase capacity for everyday visits and seasonal experiences, like the wildly successful Winterlights and newly announced Harvest festival.

The announcement served to update community stakeholders and members on priority projects in the institution’s 30 year master plan, which was unveiled in late 2017. The generous gifts include $10 million from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation; $8 million from the Lilly Endowment Inc.; $3 million from Newfields trustee Kent Hawryluk; $500,000 from the Indianapolis Department of Public Works; $100,000 from long-time supporter Edgar Fehnel; and $100,000 from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

“Newfields is committed to strategic, impactful and sustainable growth that benefits the Indianapolis community. With these key infrastructure improvements, new contemporary art commissions and the addition of a Harvest festival, we will be able to welcome more people to Newfields for exceptional experiences with art and nature,” said Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO. “Over the next 30 years the institution will expand its offerings in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Garden, the Lilly House and The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. This funding lays the groundwork for the development of a campus and programs unlike anywhere else in the nation.”

Guests to Newfields will see changes around the campus right away. In March, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation announced a $10 million, 10-year grant. The funding will support amenities including bike paths and walking trails to better connect the Park to the Central Canal Towpath, Michigan Road and Newfields’ upper campus to improve access; additional parking, security and restrooms to build visitor capacity; a new artful Play Zone for families; creation of an endowment for art and site maintenance and additional art commissions to enhance appeal; and conservation upgrades to protect this rare and beautiful area.

With this grant Newfields will be able to complete Phase II of Fairbanks Park’s long-term master plan, ensuring that The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park reaches its full potential as a special place where art, nature, conservation and wellness seamlessly come together in ways that benefit the Indianapolis community, including its plants and animals. Construction on this series of improvements will begin in 2019 and last through 2025.

In December 2018, Newfields was awarded a grant as part of Lilly Endowment’s initiative, Strengthening Indianapolis Through Arts and Cultural Innovation. The $8 million grant will allow Newfields to continue to implement additional large-scale seasonal festivals that respond to the desires of today’s arts and culture audiences. In October, Newfields will debut its inaugural Harvest festival, a campus-wide art and nature experience that is expected to attract 100,000 annual visitors when it reaches maturity in 2023. Guests to Harvest can expect a wide array of programming including culinary tastings and workshops; seasonal horticulture and agriculture displays; and films and musical performances all surrounded by breathtaking fall foliage. As always, Newfields will complement the season with thought provoking exhibitions in the IMA Galleries. The art highlight of Harvest 2019 will be Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular Infinity Mirror Room All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins (2016).

In addition, a significant portion of the Lilly Endowment grant will be used to enhance our festival infrastructure, which includes a new parking green. This facility will expand Newfields’ surface parking by 200 spaces, converting 78,000 sq. ft. of existing turf into reinforced turf. Also, the recently founded Culinary Arts Department will get a new home thanks to the Lilly Endowment grant, which will fund the transformation of the 1939 Lilly Family Playhouse into a new Culinary Arts Center. The Center will act as a preparation area for culinary initiatives across the Newfields campus, like Pop Up: Tea House currently adjacent to the IMA Galleries, as well as culinary workshops, wine tastings and dining experiences.

Longtime supporter of Newfields, Kent Hawryluk, has committed $3 million to the institution to found The Hawryluk Collection of Art in Nature and The Hawryluk Sculpture Green in the heart of the Park. Funded by a new art endowment, this program will semi-annually commission temporary and occasionally permanent sculptures for The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park and The Garden. Newfields leaders designed the program based on world-class institutions like the Wanås Estate in Sweden, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. With this funding Newfields continues to strive to become an international leader at the intersection of art and nature.

Through both the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust grants, Newfields’ horticulture and natural resource team will be able to tackle major conservation and sustainability challenges. Working with top hydrologists, Newfields is implementing a plan to curb the erosion of the path between the White River and the Lake, a project that will increase access to the park’s existing trails and improve the water quality of the White River.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has granted Newfields a matching gift estimated at $500,000 to help Newfields better connect to its neighbors. This gift will enhance the campus perimeter by adding a new multi-use path, wide enough for both cyclists and pedestrians. The path will begin at the 38th Street entrance, continue around to the Michigan Road entrance, and then down to the Central Canal Towpath for easy access to The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. Key crosswalks will also be installed at 42nd Street and Michigan Road. In addition Newfields has partnered with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to add a Pacers Bikeshare station to our campus, which will be another way to increase our neighborhood connectivity and mobility.

Thanks to $100,000 from former trustee, Edgar Fehnel, and additional funding from the Fairbanks Foundation, Newfields is creating a new Pollinator Meadow in Fairbanks Park. This conservation project will replace early successional pioneer species and non-native invasive plants with a wide variety of plants that will support our native bee and insect populations, which are in decline. In addition, The Meadow will also restore the beautiful view that originally existed from Newfields’ historic Lilly House to the White River.

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