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The Women Behind the Programs

The women behind the programs at the IMA sit down and answer a few questions about how and why they do what they do…

How do you pick films for Summer Nights and Winter Nights?

Lindsay Hamman:   For Summer Nights it’s more of a pop-culture vibe, with popular movies that people have seen before, but would love to see again on the big screen.  And it’s our 36th year, so we have a long list of movies that we have screened over the years.  We try to go through and hit a variety of decades and a variety of genres, and we try to keep a seven to ten year gap between the favorites.  Like Singing in the Rain, or Psycho, or something like that. We always try to include a Hitchcock, an action film, a scary option, and a musical; we try to have as much variety as we can.

Anne Laker:  With Winter Nights… well, there aren’t a lot of places you can see classic film on the big screen. So we love to look back in cinematic history and pick some gems that people may have heard about, but haven’t seen. Then we try to make it a whole experience.  Sometime we try to Skype with a film historian or director, or throw in a cartoon. And we love showing films on 35mm if we can, if that was the original form in which the film was created. We burn through our Netflix account, and watch all kinds of film before we make our final choices.

Summer Nights at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

How do you decide on programs that you book throughout the year?

Anne: We try to respond to exhibitions going up at the IMA. We also try to keep our thumb on the cultural pulse. What are some exciting ideas that might have to do to with the world of art, design, or nature (which are the three pillars of the IMA mission)? People make suggestions, we read about things in The New York Times. We also have to fulfill the needs of groups that support the museum, like the Horticultural Society and Contemporary Art Society, and we do things that highlight those realms.

Lindsay:  It’s a lot of balance.  Between exhibition, affiliate groups, and film, as well as adding in things that no one else in the city is doing, we make sure to use our budget the best we can to hit everything.

Anne: Exactly. For example, we’re not going to do a jazz series, because the Jazz Kitchen has taken care of that.  Though we are thinking about doing a Japanese horror film set to a live jazz score. But I will say one of the drivers of programming is all the amazing spaces we have at the IMA, everything from 100 Acres to The Toby to the Maya Lin balcony.

Ok, so saying all of that, what do you see as a void in Indianapolis’s cultural offerings?

Anne:  Well, Indy’s cultural scene  is always in flux, and lately there seems to be more edginess and risk going on, which is great.  We like NoExit, a theatre group we’ve hosted here, because they have responded to the IMA’s spaces. You know, where else can you see maybe a dark and arty movie or a huge kite performance (Lindsay: or a vegetable orchestra).  So we want to surprise people, and that’s a constant effort.  The model is always changing, we aren’t doing as many standard art history talks as we have in the past and we looking for new models to get people excited about new ideas.  It can’t be an old-fashioned lecture anymore…what comes next?

Urbanized Summit event at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Do you have anything planned for this year or next that you are really excited about?

Lindsay:  Well, I’m always excited about the Winter Solstice.  It’s my favorite program that we do every year.  We have such a good crowd, lots of families, a great art activity, the ice carvers are always doing something new and its winter and outside, which I love.  This year we’re doing something new, we’re going to add a musical component, which will be fantastic…but I’m not going to tell you what it is.

(Anne: Did you call that guy?  Lindsay:  Yeah, I’m waiting for him to call back.)

Lindsay:  And I’m also really excited for 2013 Spring Equinox. The idea is a half inflated hot air balloon that you can go inside. I think that’s going to be really cool. I think we’ve done some really amazing things for Solstices and Equinoxes and they are always really exciting.

Is there anything or anyone that you hope one day, that if you had an unlimited budget you could get to the IMA?

Lindsay:  For personal reasons or IMA reasons?  Oh, I’ve got to think about this.

Anne:  I’ve got mine.  Film is my favorite type of program that we do, I admit that.  I’ve always wanted to bring the cinematographer who shoots all the Coen Brothers films.  His name is Roger Deakins.  Maybe someday he can come and tell us what it’s like to work with the Coen Brothers and photograph their films.

Lindsay:  This is hard.  Who do I really, really want to meet?   It’s hard, because usually we are at the front of house or backstage so we don’t usually get to hear or watch a speaker.  Like when Madeleine Albright came, I didn’t hear anything she said because I was backstage, I just got to say “hi” to her in the elevator taking her from point A to point B.

What if I could guarantee a dinner after the program?

Lindsay: Oh there you go!  Well, there are people I would love to come back, like Beatrix*JAR or CJ Jones.  They had really great programs and they were really cool to be with. And I enjoy that. I have to say what I like about this job the most is that there are lots of things we do here that I would not seek out on my own, but then the performance happens and  I’m like “wow, that was really f#*%ing cool!”  So I get to experience a lot of things I would not normally on my own.

Well that segues into my next question, which Lindsay just answered, why do you love programming?

Anne:  There is an instant gratification.  You can see them experiencing an idea or a spectacle, enjoying themselves, learning something.  And I love helping to make the IMA one of the most exciting places in Indianapolis.  I love being a part of that.

Lindsay:  There is always something new.

Anne:  It’s never boring.

Lindsay:  Once one program is over, you’re working on the next ten.  It’s always constantly moving.

What something you’ve done as part of your jobs that you’ll never forget?

Anne:  Picking the actor Crispin Glover up at the airport.  He talked non-stop.

Lindsay:  The evening before our Earth Harp program back in 2008, it was 10 o’clock at night and I was at Lowes buying every single extension cord they had, because we didn’t have enough.  My trunk was weighed down with a cart full of extension cords.  Or taking CJ Jones grocery shopping in the middle of the night!

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