Mayor Brainard Reflects on Artomobilia’s Impact on the City of Carmel
In this last lap of Mayor Brainard’s final term, I spoke with Brainard about how events like Artomobilia have contributed to the culture and success of the city’s inner core and how Artomobilia specifically contributes to the car enthusiast community that supports the city’s automobile dealership district off 96th Street and Keystone Parkway.
A World-Class Event
Ever since the organizers brought Artomobilia from Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to the heart of Carmel in the Arts & Design District, the annual event has drawn tens of thousands of car enthusiasts into Carmel to enjoy exceptional automotive innovation as well as art, shopping and dining.
“When we started [redevelopment in the city’s core] more than 20 years ago, we had heard from the community that they wanted a traditional successful downtown where people can shop, dine [and] meet up with their neighbors and friends. Carmel didn’t have that back then. One of the reasons that downtowns across the country are not doing well, particularly in smaller suburban cities, is they don’t have any sort of downtown that people can access easily [or] have events that draw people there so they can learn about and experience the local restaurants and shops.”
Brainard continued, “Having events on a regular basis, whether they be concerts, street dances, festivals … these events are an important part of what has made our downtown, from the Art & Design District all the way to City Center, successful. These are important to our downtown businesses and to keep them thriving. Artomobilia is a tremendous event, and it draws people from a multi-state area. Artomobilia is well organized and marketed by our partners at Artomobilia. It is exciting to see people come and discover Carmel from all over the Midwest, and it does compete with some of the best car shows in the nation like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. It’s good to see Carmel compete on this stage as it does in so many others.”
Driving Economic Development and Business Retention
Over the years, Artomobilia has not only injected revenue into the city’s inner core, but its success has also created a ripple effect that touches the automobile dealership district in the city’s southeastern corridor. In addition to the city’s redevelopment of 96th Street and Keystone Parkway and improvements to that area, the dealerships — including several exotic and luxury brands — have found the area to be easily accessible and welcomed by the area’s car enthusiast community that Artomobilia continues to invigorate.
“We had to fix the road system, which was terribly congested,” Brainard shared. “We did that by removing the stoplights and replacing those with roundabouts. We wanted to cement that this corridor is the place to buy a car in the Midwest by installing four beautiful sculptures designed by Arlon Bayliss and fabricated by bo-mar Industries.”
The four sculptures feature artistic interpretations of the classic cars Marmon, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, Stutz and Studebaker — each of which were designed and built in Indiana during the first half of the 20th Century when America first began to fall in love with automobiles.
“Great public art is an important part of our mission in Carmel to create a City that stands apart for its beauty and quality of life,” Brainard said. “As this corridor is home to so many automobile dealerships, we felt it would be appropriate to celebrate the beauty and genius of Indiana’s classic cars and the remarkable contributions they made to the industry.”
Brainard concluded. “The automobile dealerships, due to their contractual relationships with the manufacturers, often are required to put so much invested capital into their dealerships and have to rebuild their dealerships to stay competitive, so we want to make sure that the dealerships have a good argument to go to the manufacturers and say, ‘We want to stay right here [in Carmel] and invest our funds in this corridor that focuses on car sales and automotive culture.’”
Check out the full itinerary for this year’s Artomobilia Weekend at artomobilia.org.