Indiana University Northwest Student Assists Local Organization in the Creation of Monthly Event, Arts Extravaganza

By: Indiana University Northwest Last Updated: August 24, 2010

Event takes place in Gary’s ‘Arts District’, a product of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan iunlogo

Indiana University Northwest student, Davina’ Stewart, has partnered with the Central District Organizing Project (CDOP), a Gary-based citizens advocacy group, to jumpstart an arts project in downtown Gary. The project, dubbed Arts Extravaganza, will occur in Gary’s ‘Arts District’, a product of Gary’s ‘Vision for Broadway Plan’.

The first Arts Extravaganza event will be held outdoors on Friday, Aug. 27 at 744 Broadway in Gary. The family-friendly event will showcase a variety of local dancers, musicians, singers and poets from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Local craft and visual arts will also be on display and available for purchase. The event is free and open to individuals of all ages.

Arts Extravaganza will also occur in an indoor venue located at the Link Bar Lounge (752 Broadway, Gary) from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Featured artists will teach workshops on dance, drawing, writing, art and performance. This event is restricted to individuals age 21 and up and costs $5 per person.

Arts Extravaganza is not an IU Northwest-sponsored program. All event details, locations and featured artists have been coordinated through the CDOP.

Stewart’s involvement

Stewart, a Gary resident, began working with CDOP after becoming aware of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan, an initiative to revive the Broadway corridor that connects Gary’s downtown and midtown districts. She first heard about the plan from her IU Northwest professor, Earl Jones, Ph.D., while working toward her post-baccalaureate certificate in Community Development and Urban Studies.

The ‘Arts District’ is a product of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan,” Stewart said. “And because I am a performance artist, I chose to focus my studies on exploring arts as a cornerstone of revitalization."

“Art is important to community development because it helps people to visualize,” she added. “We want people to envision what Gary could look like. If you’re able to do that, people are more likely to hang out and invest in this community. Art allows people to be inspired and see the beauty and potential of a community.”

Jones, an IU Northwest Associate Professor of African-American Studies and Public and Environmental Affairs, has been involved for years in engaging and energizing the Gary community.

Programs like Arts Extravaganza, which are sponsored by Gary’s youth, are building blocks for the city’s revitalization, Jones noted.

Throughout the country, art plays a vital role in the redevelopment of cities,” Jones added. “A great example of this is Chicago and the beautification of the city."

Art brings people into a city, and the city becomes a destination point,” he said. “As people visit, they spend money and, therefore, the city prospers due to additional revenue. While Arts Extravaganza is not a city-sponsored event, it is taking place in the proposed ‘Arts District’, as developed in the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan. Events like these are positive signs for the City of Gary, and most importantly for its residents.”

Approved by City Council

Jones proudly noted that, early this summer, the Gary City Council approved the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan as part of its new Comprehensive City Plan. The plan is now public policy for the City of Gary.

The first act was for the council to see the importance of this plan, and we are proud to say that was successfully completed,” Jones said. “The next step is the development of these districts. And I’ve had several conversations with developers and architects who are ready to get these plans started.”

The 92-page revitalization plan was originally envisioned at a biennial meeting for the Planning and Black Community Division of the American Planning Association hosted by IU Northwest Department of Minority Studies, the City of Gary, and the Gary/East Chicago/Hammond (GECH) Empowerment Zone. The group held a technical assistance workshop in which local citizens and other stakeholders came together to discuss their vision for the future of Gary, specifically the Broadway corridor that connects Gary’s downtown and Midtown districts.

Ben Clement, a Gary native and the Economic Development and Marketing Administrator for the GECH Empowerment Zone, spoke to the importance of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan.

The ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan is a roadmap for future growth focused on the main business corridor, the commercial district,” he said. “This revitalization plan provides a specific strategy to get from point A to Z. This plan is critical to have in place to aid in the future growth and development of the city of Gary.”

Chris Mayers, Director of Planning for the City of Gary, and his team are also assisting in the implementation of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan.

Arts Extravaganza will be a monthly event held every fourth Friday at the same times and locations. During the winter, the family-oriented outdoor portion of the extravaganza will be moved to LiveArts Studio at 4760 Broadway in Gary.

For more information about Arts Extravaganza or to be a featured artist, please contact Davina’ Stewart at (219) 880-8727 or To view an electronic version of the ‘Vision for Broadway’ plan, visit