Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United.

Time for a big admission. I am not an artist – at least, not in the professional sense. But like most members of the Fort Wayne community, I could not comprehend getting my family through a pandemic without some creative or cultural outlet.

From cave drawings to modern musical theatre, mankind has used arts and culture to build unity around shared experiences. Today, our community is sharing in the experience of COVID-19. As a result, creativity is thriving in our community – unbounded by the walls of our homes and guidelines for social distancing.

In your home and neighborhood, you’ve likely experienced a spontaneous explosion of art over the past few months – impromptu dancing, music-making, or even a neighborhood chalk-walk. Perhaps your kitchen table has been transformed into an artist studio with kids huddled around crayons, finger paint, and stamps.
Our community’s arts and cultural nonprofits are also creating cultural experiences for you to take part in – digitally for now and experientially for the future.

Fort Wayne’s arts and culture nonprofits and creative sector workers are resilient. Their leaders are demonstrating all of the qualities of leadership that Fort Wayne needs right now: care for our people, adaptive mindsets, innovative programming, and confidence in the future.

They’re working together in service to our community, leading the way as standard-bearers and culture-carriers, not by adapting to the ‘new normal,’ but by defining it.

They will need your continued support and advocacy. If Fort Wayne fails to invest in the capacity of its arts and culture nonprofits and self-employed artists to withstand this temporary period of disruption, we risk losing our quality of life as we know it. Fort Wayne’s future as a vibrant, All-American city is on the line.

Like me, you may not be an artist. I hope you agree that the resilience of our arts and culture is an important component of the recovery of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. We will move forward, together, stronger than ever – with you.


Participating in arts and culture  is a powerful action of unity. Arts United invites you to share your arts and culture activities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with #ArtStartsHere and bring attention to our growing sense of community, solidarity, and humanity through everyday arts and culture activities.


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