Recently Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement leaders met with representatives of three pilot cities who bring arts into their communities as a creative, placemaking tool. Batesville Area Arts Council outgoing President Tina Longstreth reported at the annual meeting Aug. 27, “They couldn’t believe what we have going on here and wanted to hear more. They have never seen another community in Indiana that has what’s going on here. Pretty impressive!”

Of the organization marking its 30th year, she said, “It’s a community endeavor and it’s working and I’m so proud.”

Incoming President Leon Enneking detailed the 2019-20 season:

  • Street chalk artist David Zinn, Ann Arbor, Michigan, will do public chalk drawings on sidewalks on George and Main streets near Amack’s Well Friday, Sept. 13, between 4:30-6:30 p.m. as part of an Arts in Education visit to Batesville. Please see article on page A2.
  • “We’re supplying the music” at Fiesta Hispana Saturday, Sept. 21, from 3-8 p.m. at Liberty Park. Trio de Colores and Tropicante will entertain with mariachi and salsa sounds.
  • BAAC also financially supports the Batesville Memorial Public Library After Hours Concert Series. Upcoming free shows include Jake Speed & The Freddies during Applefest Sunday, Sept. 29, from noon-2 p.m. at Liberty Park; and three at the library on Saturdays from 7-9 p.m.: Irish band Ceol Mohr, Oct. 26; Basement Brass Quintet, Nov. 16; and Lee Murdock with Yuletide tunes, Dec. 14.
  • The Boar’s Head Festival will return to the Sisters of St. Francis Chapel, Oldenburg, during the village’s Holiday Under the Spires Dec. 6-7 at 7 p.m.

The 30th annual art auction, BAAC’s major fundraiser,

  • is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, from 6-11:30 p.m. at The Barn at Walhill Farm.
  • The Purdue Varsity Glee Club, which includes Oldenburg Academy grad Decker Horninger, will entertain Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 4 p.m. in the OA auditorium. Enneking predicted, “That should be a great event.” It’s “always fun to have kids come back.”
  • The 22nd annual Community Art Show will be Thursday, June 18.
  • “Shrek the Musical” will feature many area residents Thursday-Sunday, June 25-28, 2020, at the Batesville High School auditorium. He urged, “Get out your green costume! We have a director and a musical director, so we are ready to roll.”
  • For the 21st summer, Minnesota-based Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre experts will bring in sets and costumes and coach local kids July 6-11,2020, during four rehearsals before two performances of “Sleeping Beauty” at the BHS auditorium.
  • For the third summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will return to Batesville with more rousing, patriotic tunes. The date will be announced next year.

He urged the crowd, “Get more people involved.” Volunteers are needed in many areas (please see box).

Longstreth recounted recent events. “As I was walking through all the (display) panels, it was bringing it all back. What a whirlwind year it was! ... I was proud to be president of the board this year because we had so much energy.”

New programs included “Julius Caesar” presented by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Co.; UIndy Jazz Ensemble; Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band; and Def Leprechaun, an Irish folksinging band.

“A big team of people” completed “Project 229: A Photographic Journey.” She noted, “I just think it represents our Batesville-Oldenburg communities in such a classy, beautiful way. ... We’ve sold a ton. We have a few left.” They may be purchased for $20 instead of the original $34 on the website.

“One of my favorite things of the entire year” was the Young Artists Showcase reception, which included music, dance and acting performances by students in grades 6-12. “Not everyone is an athlete. Not everyone is a scholar.” The chance for budding artists to shine in front of a supportive crowd “was an awesome experience.”

According to the president, “We’re trying to collaborate with other groups.” BAAC board members Rachael Berkemeier and Anne Raver worked very hard with Batesville Main Street leaders to gain a National Endowment for the Arts grant to add public art to the Walnut Street corridor. After survey and design work and land use planning are finished, there will be a call for artists. “It is the entrance to our town. It’s fun when organizations collaborate and make big things happen.”

With net income of $59,498, the nonprofit had a June 30 year-end balance of $245,166, which does not include Ripley County Community Foundation endowment funds and ISO designated funds, reported Treasurer Dan Hall.

Total income was $192,889, which included the $57,500 NEA grant, which will be spent soon. Other categories: auction, $63,415; photo book sales, $36,485; memberships, $15,264; other grants, $12,451; program admissions, $7,562.

Expenses were $133,391: Arts in Education Program (visiting artists in public and private schools and evening series), $42,308; cultural events, $24,547; art auction, $21,818; Young Artists Showcase and community arts support, $13,838; photo book, $11,974; payroll, $9,945; administration, $4,861; public relations and volunteer recognition, $2,188; Community Art Show, $1,380.

Three individuals and one business were applauded for their contributions.

Board member Andrea Gillman was presented with the President’s Award. According to Longstreth, “We have a really strong working board ... very active. It’s hard sometimes to pick somebody that shines over the others because everybody is doing such a good job. This lady brings such positivity to her job. You can call her and say, ‘Hey, can you do this for me?’ ‘Sure, no problem.’ You can hear the enthusiasm ... the smile in her voice.” Gillman does graphic design work for BAAC. “It’s a lot – panels, posters, social media.”

Gillman Home Center earned the Business Award. The company “has been a tremendous resource not just for BAAC, but so many in the community. They’re always providing us with supplies” and auction donations. Chief operations officer Curtis Gillman, Andrea’s husband, “is just one of those guys you can always call and say, ‘I need help lifting an artist up to paint a mural’” and he will supply the right equipment.

Upon accepting the honor, Gillman said, “It is very easy to give to a community that gives so much back to us, especially to an organization that makes so much positive change in the community.”

Dogger Dickey was named Volunteer of the Year. Two years ago when a small group decided the city would host ISO for three years, “this gentleman stepped up immediately as a leader. I can’t even describe what a force he is when you put him on a project,” the president raved. “This man is just meticulous in everything he does. He’s such a hard worker. He has this beautiful way of tackling a project and taking ownership without really stepping on people’s toes. ... He’s an encourager when things get stressful” and excellent at fundraising.

Dickey reported, “Working with some new people ... everybody stepped up. It was a team effort. Count your blessings. We’re very, very fortunate to have BAAC here,” especially considering the city’s size. “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Rachael Berkemeier was given the Arts in Education Award by AIE co-chair Jolene Rockwood, who said, “If I had to list all the things she’s brought into the schools, you wouldn’t believe it” – STEM and hands-on programs, murals, visits by famous authors. The 18-year Batesville Community School Corp. media specialist and 13-year board member is a successful grant writer, helping obtain the NEA Our Town grant. Eight went to “all big cities ... except for this dinky town in southern Indiana. She’s written all kinds of other grants.” Berkemeier, who recently resigned from BCSC, “was an incredible asset to the schools,” wrote Batesville Primary School art teacher Laura Gilland. “She welcomed each student who entered the BPS library with open arms. Her love of reading is visible.”

Longstreth thanked five outgoing board members: Carla Austin, Laura Gilland, Denise Hillenbrand, Nancy Mullen and Sam Mynsberge.

After ballots were cast (the slate was unanimously approved), executive director Sarah Heppner introduced fresh BAAC leaders. In addition to Enneking and Hall, incoming officers are Vice President Ethel Rodriguez and Secretary Mary Mattingly. Besides Longstreth, Rockwood, Berkemeier, Gillman and Raver, other board members elected or re-elected at the meeting were Chris Ault, Beth Enneking, Donovan Freeland, Mary Gehring, Susan Glaser, Barb Greene, Paul Ketcham, Judy Meyer, Kerri Meyer and Paul Satchwill.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at or 812-717-3113.

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