This past Saturday, October 12th, was the 6th annual Broad Ripple Music Fest. It was well organized and marketed. It had great music of many stripes and a nice variety of venues all in walking distance. In every way it was set up for success. Jack Shepler, who inherited the show from SmallBox, did a great job. But the turnout was lower than hoped and the cops shut down the outdoor tents at 10. It put a serious damper on what was still a great night of music. But it's pretty clear what's really going on...
Broad Ripple used to be the music scene, now it's Fountain Square. Makes sense really. It's too expensive for musicians to live in Broad Ripple. Really, that's the rub of it: musicians move into a neighborhood, make it cool and attract the yuppies who, with good intentions, improve the neighborhood and essentially evict the musicians with raised rents. So musicians are chased around town, never really building a solid scene. This is the story of Indianapolis' music scene- Indiana Ave, Broad Ripple and now Fountain Square, etc. And it's the same in many other cities.
A vibrant music scene is a baseline item for young professionals. They look around the country, post college or in transition, and build a short list of "cool" cities. Try to find one "cool" city that doesn't have a great music scene- Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, etc. I don't think it's a secret that Indy isn't on the "cool" list very often. That's the problem, and it's a real problem. We are missing out on the energy and vitality these people could be bringing to our city.
If we are serious about Indianapolis becoming a world class city then we need to fix the music scene. It needs a home- I suggest we create a Music District in Fountain Square. It needs venues of all flavors and stripes. It needs fans that support it. Most of all, it needs to be sustainable. Musicians need to be able to make, or augment, a reasonable living here. Until we stop chasing the music scene around town and give it our sustained support Indy will not earn a permanent spot on that short list of "cool" cities that attract transformative talent.