Nickel Plate Arts Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Writer  /  Jane VanOsdol
Photographer  /  Brian Brosmer

Nickel Plate Arts recently celebrated its five-year anniversary on September 16 with a look backward.

The organization began in 2012 with the goal of “supporting, promoting and providing outstanding arts experiences along the 30-mile historic Nickel Plate Railroad in Fishers, Noblesville, Cicero, Arcadia, Atlanta and Tipton.”

Along the way, the focus shifted a bit as they found their footing, identifying the gaps in the art community in eastern Hamilton County and southern Tipton County.

“We discovered what parts of the arts community were working well and what was missing,” says Aili McGill, director.

What they found led to a four-part focus:

1. Education. They established ongoing art classes for adults and children and professional development opportunities for artists. They also identified a need to help promote the educational resources of their existing partners to the community.

2. Arts community development. Integrating visual and performing arts into expected and unexpected venues throughout communities is a priority. 

3. Development of the creative economy. For arts to continue in a community, the arts must be economically viable. Nickel Plate does this by providing opportunities for artists such as artist studios, exhibits and First Fridays.

4. Financial support for Nickel Plate Arts. Reaching non-artists is important, and Nickel Plate features four programs throughout the year that are touch points for the community: Valentines Day for All, Welcome to Fairyville, Comic Book in a Day Event and their Holiday-related programs during November and December.

5th Anniversary Party

On September 16, Nickel Plate celebrated what’s been accomplished with a three-hour anniversary event that looked back at the last five years.

This fundraising event included an awards ceremony for both patrons and artists, a dinner provided by Nameless Catering, music by Steve Newby and Resonate 150, a performance by Improbable Fiction Theatre Company, a participatory weaving activity led by Sue Payne, a textile artist, and a cash bar with beer provided by Deer Creek Brewing and wine by Blackhawk winery.

A Look at the Future

As Nickel Plate Arts turns its focus to the future, McGill sees a shift.

“We are in the midst of planning,” she says. “We’re looking to become more a convener of classes and opportunities rather than a direct provider.”

They want to build effective relationships with artists and groups who want to promote the arts through teaching and selling. Nickel Plate Arts will curate resources and then connect them with the public. Big picture leadership is where they are headed.

“Stimulating art education is critical for a community,” McGill says. Indeed, a study on the economic impact of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences in Hamilton County in 2015 conducted by Americans for the Arts showed total industry expenditures to be $58,107,621, which packed a huge economic impact.

Connect with Nickel Plate Arts

Interested in membership with Nickel Plate Arts? All creative people in the community such as culinary artists, actors, musicians, graphic designers, carpenters and makers are welcome. There are no residency requirements as long as you can bring your work to one of the creative spots. All information can be found at

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