In 2007 a group of staunch arts supporters and locavors thought the city was headed in the right direction, but needed a little encouragement to support what’s interesting and unique about our city. And what is one of the key ingredients to having a unique and interesting city? Artists and original artwork, of course. And so, the Be Indypendent: Buy Indy Art movement began on July 4th, 2007 – forever to be known as our Indypendence Day!
Since the humble beginnings of bumper stickers on artist’s cars, they have grown into a city-wide, full-blown Buy Local movement. The NEW Be Indypendent now boasts the tag line “Create. Buy. Be. Local.” The goal is to support and advocate for everything Indypendent – restaurants, cafés, farms, retail shops, book stores, micro-brews, and of course, artists. With their newly expanded scope they have partnered with the Indy Chamber (formerly Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce), Visit Indy (formerly Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association) and Yelp! to reach a broader audience and have a much greater impact on our community.
So, why Be Indypendent? Why now? The need for Be Indypendent is threefold, has everything to do with our quality of life, our reputation as an energetic and creative destination and it just makes good sense (cents) for the local economy.
Recent studies show that young people are moving to cities that interest and excite them and then finding jobs in those locations where they want to live, work, and play. The days of staying in one place all your life are virtually over and we all have options for where we want to live. That coupled with Indiana’s brain drain of young post-grads means that we need to seriously consider our reputation and how we “market” ourselves – Naptown won’t cut it with the next generation. Today, people are gravitating to unique and one-of-a-kind experiences. Calling attention to, and thus supporting, unique and creative Indypendently-owned businesses and artists is a great way to improve the quality of life for all of us and puts us on the next-generation map. Like with any audience, we need to meet the people where they are and where they are is longing for the inside scoop- what is uniquely Indianapolis? What makes “Indy” a great stomping ground for a diverse and cultured community? Economic development guru, Richard Florida, has said that attracting educated people to a city and keeping them engaged is absolutely a possibility and it doesn’t just require good schools to do it. Today’s “city hunter” wants bike/foot trails, local restaurants, unique shops that are off the beaten path. People want creative and cultural assets and we want to let them know how to find that environment.
Finally, the buy-local mentality just makes good sense for our local economy. According to private research firm Civic Economics, for every $100 in consumer spending at a national chain retailer, the total economic impact $13. The same amount spent with a local merchant yields more than three times the local economic impact. That being said, if every consumer made a conscious effort to spend more (not all) but more at local, Indypendently owned establishments, the impact to our greater Indianapolis economy would be substantial.
BeIndypendent’s goal – to share the facts that modest changes in consumer spending habits can generate substantial local economic impact that can then be used to support a more thriving local arts and culture scene that encourages young, bright citizens to make Indy their home; encourages large corporations to see Indy as a viable location for their employees; which creates a sustainable working environment for Indy artists. It’s a win, win!
You can be a part of the movement by visiting www.BeIndypendent.org. Look for their new holiday gift giving guide available on Black Friday and their BIG relaunch party at Gallery 924 on Friday, December 7 from 6pm- 10pm.