FORT WAYNE – The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., announced Monday the 11 artists participating in Make It Your Own Mural Fest, happening Sept. 8-18 across Northeast Indiana’s 11 counties.

The regional mural festival concept, the first of its kind in the state, is an innovative, creative activation of the Make It Your Own brand intended to enhance the region’s efforts to drive talent attraction, talent retention and tourism by investing in quality of place assets and public art, according to a news release from Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NIRP).

Kate Virag, vice president of marketing and strategic communications at the NIRP, said Mural Fest was created to achieve several goals:

“We designed Mural Fest with several specific outcomes in mind. First, Mural Fest will amplify Northeast Indiana’s quality of place, supporting our region’s talent attraction and retention goals. Additionally, this initiative highlights the unique attributes of our communities, creating opportunities for residents and visitors to engage and experience Northeast Indiana through public art, driving social media and media exposure for the region. The initiative also offers mentorship opportunities for emerging regional artists, which should catalyze future public art creation. This important element of the regional branding strategy will make Northeast Indiana nationally known and position it in a positive, forward-thinking light,” Virag said.

Elaine Bedel, secretary and CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC), said the state recognizes the strong connection quality of life initiatives like Mural Fest can have on economic growth.

“The goal of the IDDC is to tell Indiana’s authentic story to attract and retain business, talent, students and visitors to our great state. That’s why I continue to seek out new ways the state can partner with and lift up the work of our regions and local communities,” said Bedel. “Make It Your Own Mural Fest is an incredible example of how innovation and creativity, even during the historic challenges of COVID-19, can bring countless new opportunities, attention and individuals to a community through investment in quality of place.”

Dan Ross, vice president of community development for Arts United, said public art creates a unique attachment to the community and can be a catalyst for future growth.

“Arts United is passionate about the development of vibrant communities throughout Northeast Indiana. Through partnerships like Make It Your Own Mural Fest, we achieve positive outcomes for the region’s economy, workforce, schools, neighborhoods and families,” said Ross. “Even during these challenging times due to COVID-19, it’s important we continue to support artists, explore new ideas and interests, experience diverse cultures and be inspired by our community’s resilience.”

Over 11 days, 11 artists will each install a high-quality mural – one in each of the 11 counties of Northeast Indiana.

In Kosciusko County, artist Tim Parsley, of Fort Wayne, will install his mural at 212 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw.

In Wabash, artist Claudio “Remix 1” Rico, of Wichita, Kan., will install his mural at 214 E. Main St., North Manchester.

Alex Hall, founder of Art This Way and owner of AH Public Spaces Consulting, said that although it was challenging for the selection committees in each county to choose just 11 designs from the talented pool of applicants, the muralists selected represent a diverse and eclectic mix of artistic aesthetic.

“The Make It Your Own Mural Fest artists embraced each county’s story to create a mural that was authentic and genuine,” said Hall. “From internationally-renowned muralists like Key Detail of Belarus, to multi-disciplinary creative Shawn Dunwoody of Rochester, N.Y., these national artists are highly sought after in the art world. We also have prolific and experienced regional artists participating, and a few are even installing murals in their own hometown. We’re thankful these talented artists are bringing their significant skills and experience to Make It Your Own Mural Fest.”

Mural Fest will also feature participation from 12 aspiring artists as part of the Mentorship Program. The Mentorship Program will provide hands-on learning and valuable experience installing a large-scale mural project. From preparing materials to installation, each mentee will help their assigned artists with the mural installation.

Small artist meet-and-greet events are happening throughout the region, and more information can be found on the Mural Fest website. All events require social distancing, masks and other COVID-19 safety best practices.

To learn more, visit the website at www.NEIMuralFestival.com.