Arts for Lawrence Brick Fundraiser to Benefit Fort Ben Cultural Campus

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Brick FundraiserArts for Lawrence is hosting a unique brick fundraiser that not only serves to beautify their new Fort Ben Cultural Campus, but also provides donor recognition. Inscribed bricks will gradually replace plain, unadorned ones in the new Donor Patio, which is part of a major renovation and expansion slated for completion later this spring. Plans are in the works for a grand opening festival set for May 22.

Bricks can be purchased from the organization’s website. Each $100 brick can be inscribed with three lines of text including either a name or sentiment. Bricks can also be purchased as gifts, and the recipient can choose the text. Participants will receive a mini replica keepsake brick.

Anchored by the historic Theater at the Fort, the Fort Ben Cultural Campus features art amenities for the community. It is a result of a collaboration between Lawrence Arts and the City of Lawrence, and was made possible by a $5.8 million grant received from the Lilly Endowment. Funds received made it possible for Lawrence Arts to fulfill a vision of providing an arts destination for the community.

“We had been dreaming this for many years,” says Judy Byron, executive director. “In 2018, when we found out about Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Strengthening Indianapolis Through Arts and Cultural Innovation initiative, we reached out to the city and let them know what we were thinking. Together we wrote and submitted the grant, stating our concept of a cultural campus. Lilly gave us an invitation to apply for the final round and we received the grant at the end of the year.”

The money received has allowed Lawrence Arts to pursue five phases of expansion. Stage one and two involved renovations and an addition to back of the existing theater. The facility was shut down in August of 2019 to allow for construction, and reopening was originally scheduled for March of 2020.

Brick Fundraiser“Unfortunately, because of COVID we couldn’t reopen,” Byron says. “However, construction is considered an essential industry so we never slowed down with our plans for the campus. We had some delays in getting supplies and workers had to quarantine, but we are on target for our May 22 opening festival.”

The remaining three phases will enhance what Lawrence Arts already offers to the community. The historic communications building was moved from its former location to become the new Visual Arts Center. It will feature an additional art classroom and gallery. Additionally, a parking lot is being turned into a plaza that includes an outdoor amphitheater that will be the new home for the popular Fridays at the Fort, a free concert series. The plaza will also offer the interactive experience of musical swings.

The final stage highlights public art and placemaking elements, including limestone benches hand-carved by a local artist, a sidewalk with the sounds of marching boots, and an augmented reality experience that can be accessed by a cell phone application.

“We are so grateful for the grant and to our donors,” Byron says. “We are eagerly anticipating our grand opening festival on May 22. It will launch our outdoor programming for summer and we plan to be back indoors in the fall.”

The Fort Ben Cultural Campus is located at 8920 Otis Avenue in Indianapolis. For more info on Arts for Lawrence and the current fundraiser, call 317-875-1900 or visit

Comments 1

  1. Jay Hemphill says:

    Due to construction delays, safety issues, and COVID restrictions outside of AFL’s control, the leadership team has determined it is impossible to host a grand opening event that is safe for the public and provides the fanfare it deserves. Our staff has made some very difficult decisions to come up with a Plan B.

    The Fort Ben Cultural Campus Grand Opening has been rescheduled for Friday, June 18, 2021 starting at 4:30pm. The Grand Opening celebration will span a weekend of free public events. Weekend events will include a Fridays at the Fort concert and our Juneteenth Jubilee among others.

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