Hoping to increase the availability of classical music on the radio in 1961, a group of research chemists at Eli Lilly and Company pooled their resources, formed a corporation, and sought a broadcast outlet for classical music on the air. The first station carried a variety of classical music, jazz, poetry, interviews, folk music, discussions on religion, and editorials from studios in the 10-story Dearborn Hotel at the 3200 block of East Michigan Street. Norbert Neuss, F. Bruce Peck, Frank P. Thomas and Willis K. Kunz collaborated in 1968 to form The Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis, Inc. as a public charitable trust under the laws of the State of Indiana. In 1986, the Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, the first ever received by an Indiana radio broadcast entity in the then 48-year history of the award.
In 2013, the Society conducted a community assessment that revealed an immediate need to create accessible programming reflective of the multiculturalism of the local community. In response, the Fine Arts Society changed its name to Classical Music Indy to better reflect the organization’s vision and mission, and developed a three-year strategic plan focused on creating musical programming to enhance community life through approachable, intergenerational cultural experiences.
In January of 2015, Classical Music Indy leadership established a new philosophy to achieve a culture of excellence through five primary channels:
- shared vision, goals, and practices;
- mutual support by staff, board, and stakeholders;
- encouragement of innovation and creativity;
- regular and activating professional development experiences; and
- commitment-based internal and external communications.
Today, Classical Music Indy is the creator and syndicator of classical music radio programs. The organization now also manages an innovative community concert series, maintains collaborative off-air programs geared towards revitalizing under resourced communities, publishes a quarterly music-centric digital magazine, and is the advocate for and promoter of local music and music-makers. The broad mission of the organization is “to inspire people with the power of classical music.”
Classical Music Indy is strategically utilizing its commitment to excellence and innovation to reach new populations and an expanded geographic area in order to make classical music relevant to young generations and a broader and more diverse community. Finally, Classical Music Indy is using the classical music platform as a means to: enhance the quality of life for Indianapolis’ musically-underserved residents; beautify our city’s neighborhoods and public spaces through creative place-making and community concerts; and strengthen the local economy through dynamic partnerships that capitalize on cost-sharing and resource-sharing, and increases resident civic engagement and participation in revenue-producing community events.