50 years later still celebrating the arts

The Anderson Center for the Arts to be honored at chamber gala

By Dirk Webb

Photo by Dale Pickett


Deborah Stapleton, Executive Dir

The Anderson Center for the Arts

32 W. 10th Street

Anderson, IN 46016

(765) 649-1248

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In 1965 Anderson leaders including Nellie Alford Hill and Geneva (Mrs. Byron) Stewart felt it important to have a place for the community to celebrate the arts. After two years, their efforts were rewarded with the establishment of The Anderson Fine Arts Center. 30 years later, the Center relocated to the former Carnegie Library giving it a presence downtown, providing more services for the community and preserving the beloved old building that was decaying rapidly.

Offering classes, workshops and exhibitions, the Center maintains its collection while providing the beautiful facility as a community gathering place for public and private events. The Center also provides museum quality custom framing. After 50 years, the Anderson Center for the Arts still is the expressive voice of our community.

Why here in Madison County? “Each community needs the arts to expand upon its creative talents, to provide an inspired outlet and to give people a sense of who we are in the context of history. We tell our story through our arts. The Center for the Arts provides the opportunity to observe new ideas, expand our knowledge, escape from our day to day lives for a moment and cause us to search within ourselves. We believe the arts allow us to look into the future, push our boundaries, and provide a bridge away from struggles into the positive aspects of our community.”

What are your goals for 2015? “To further expand use of technology for communications, community awareness, and to offer our services to more people. We are working on a partnership with the Anderson Public Library for the recording of exhibitions, including a live feed with Keystone Woods including a possible virtual tour of the facilities. We hope this will lead to more expanded offerings with other organizations. We also plan to build on our resources and assets including more rental utilization of our building as well as expanding collection offerings.”

What makes a courageous business leader? “One who takes risks, who stands up for their beliefs and core values even when they may not be popular.”

Who do you consider the most courageous person in history and why?Mahatma Gandhi. It is incredible how he led the movement to free India from rule…against an entire Empire all to provide a better life for his people. One of his most famous acts was leading the salt marches (for decades it was illegal for Indians to use or make salt from Indian resources - they had to buy and use only salt brought in from Britain. He was jailed a number of times but still stood up for what he believed was right. Even though he was trained in law in London and lived a more affluent life in his early years, he gave up many of his own personal comforts and possessions because he believed in equality of everyone. It takes a lot of conviction to sacrifice so much personally for the betterment of others. He did all of this in a non-violent manner - other leaders in history were inspired by him in trying to create change - MLK being one.”

If you were to take that person on a tour of your business, what one thing would you want them to see? “Our dedicated staff - everyone brings their own unique set of skills and knowledge to the organization, but we all work together as a team. Everyone puts in extra time and effort (and with positive attitudes) to accomplish what needs to be done and to make a great experience for those who utilize our services. They all believe in what we offer.”


The Anderson Center for the Arts, along with 12 other organizations celebrating an anniversary, will be honored at the 2015 Annual Awards Gala thanks in part to Hoosier Park Racing and Casino.


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