FORT WAYNE — Make It Your Own Mural Fest, organized by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., is extending the deadline for the Artist and Mentorship Programs.

Artists are encouraged to apply by Sunday, June 14. Both applications are available at NEImuralfestival.com.

From Sept. 8-18, regional and national artists will create 11 high-quality murals — one in each of the 11 counties of northeast Indiana.

All murals will be unveiled on the same day, with celebrations and events taking place all over the region throughout the duration of the festival to recognize the artists and communities.

DeKalb County’s mural will be featured on the side of City Hall in Garrett, covering 2,500 square feet. A map of all locations is available at NEImuralfestival.com/map.

Despite COVID-19 challenges, Kate Virag, vice president of marketing and strategic communications at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said Mural Fest is still planned for September 2020, and organizers are focused on developing a safe experience for muralists and festival guests.

“We are monitoring all federal, state and local guidance regarding fall events and travel. Our top concern is the health and safety of artists, mentorship program participants, volunteers and all event attendees, and we are considering several possible scenarios for Mural Fest events. We plan to host a responsible, safe and fun Mural Fest in September 2020, and we’ve pushed back the application deadlines to give artists more time to respond during this challenging time,” Virag said.

Alex Hall, founder of Art this Way and owner of AH Public Spaces Consulting, said COVID-19 has affected many artists and creative people, and Mural Fest is an outlet to express creativity and earn additional income.

“We know that artists and those working in creative fields are adapting to sustain their businesses as they face COVID-19 challenges. At its core the Make It Your Own Mural Fest is a celebration of the region's creatives, and the project is entirely dependent on the muralists and mentees who choose to participate. The Artists Program is a paid opportunity, and we hope that by offering this opportunity we are contributing to the health and growth of our region's creative sector,” Hall said.

Fort Wayne artist Bryan Ballinger said he applied for Mural Fest because his past experiences creating murals in Northeast Indiana were so positive.

“Having people in the community react to your artwork and being able to contribute to the regional arts scene is awesome. I would encourage any artist who is comfortable painting a large-scale mural to apply. The budgets for the murals are fair, the exposure for your artwork is great, and the experience of creating public art is very rewarding,” Ballinger said. “Public art directly affects a community. I have seen it happen in Fort Wayne personally. Public art becomes a destination for residents and visitors alike; it shows how creative the community is and it elevates the culture of the places we live and work. People want to be in places where the arts are alive and visible.”

Make It Your Own Mural Fest is also searching for volunteers for the Mentorship Program. Students, emerging artists and veteran artists are invited to apply for the Mentorship Program, a training component of Make It Your Own Mural Fest. The Mentorship Program will provide hands-on learning and valuable experience in installing a large-scale mural project. Up to five individuals per county will be selected as volunteers and will work directly under the guidance of the selected muralist to install a mural in one of northeast Indiana's 11 counties.

Make It Your Own Mural Fest is supported through sponsorships from Parkview Health, 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, Ambassador Enterprises, NIPSCO and the NISource Foundation and Avangrid Foundation. Any changes to the Mural Fest schedule or structure will be announced publicly via the event website and social media.

To learn more, people can visit the website at NEImuralfestival.com.

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