On Monday, March 11, 2013, then-managing editor Natalie Atwell and I flipped the switch to make Sky Blue Window live. We didn’t know exactly what would happen, in part because we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. So nothing happened. Turns out we hadn’t registered the servers properly. Natalie’s husband David, an IT guru, came to our rescue, smacked the settings around a little, and voila! It was alive.
Sky Blue Window was created to be a not-for-profit community information resource. These sorts of projects are popping up all over the United States in response to changes in traditional media. Many are supported in part by local community foundations just as Central Indiana Community Foundation supports us. While these sites cover a variety of community news, none of them, to my knowledge, is devoted solely to creating demand for the arts as we do.
Our goal is to tell compelling stories about the arts and help bring them to life so that anyone with Internet access can learn more about them. By learning more and getting a taste test in the comfort of their home, or coffee shop, library or wherever, ideally they’ll take another step and support our artistic and creative communities by paying for tickets. The genesis of the idea came from a video I produced with WFYI in 2008, when I worked for the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
So far nearly 90,000 people have visited Sky Blue Window to read or watch or hear content created by a network of paid professionals and collegiate journalists from Butler University, Franklin College, IUPUI and University of Indianapolis. We’ve had some terrific stories in our first year. We’ve had our share of clunkers too. And we’ve been fortunate to work with, and discover, some very talented contributors along the way.
But Sky Blue Window was only an idea without CICF (where I now work). Today I believe it represents something wonderful about CICF and hopefully our community as well: it demonstrates CICF’s commitment to addressing community needs of all types. CICF supports the supply of art in our community, and through Sky Blue Window, it also supports creating demand for the arts.
But I want to think it’s another demonstration of the kind of community we can be, and want to be known as: one that respects and nurtures creativity and innovation via the arts -- and beyond -- so much so that we are even creative and innovative in how we do that.
It’s too early to tell if we’re accomplishing our mission. After all, we’re only a year old, in my mind still toddling around even as we want to run and then fly. Still, I’m hopeful.
Last year on Tuesday, March 12th (24 hours after we launched), I received an email from Ms. Cammy Denhard, from Louisville, Kentucky. “Kathlene Denhard is enjoying her Radio [sic] experience at UIndy and her mom and dad are enjoying having the 'bragging rights' too,” she said. “We are so happy this is available to her as a major!”
It would have been a really sweet email if I’d only known who Cammy or even Kathlene was or what the associated bragging rights were all about. “Thanks for this note,” I wrote back. “But I’m not quite sure why you sent it to me (perhaps due to skybluewindow.org)?”
“That is why you received it,” Cammy responded. “Kathlene was so excited to show the site to us.” Kathlene Denhard, Cammy’s daughter, was an early student contributor for us from University of Indianapolis, and she had submitted a pretty cool little podcast to us. She couldn’t wait to share her byline in Sky Blue Window with the people who were important to her.
One year later, that’s exactly how I feel. Excited to share Sky Blue Window with people important to me -- my friends and family, and a very special community that makes it possible. Thank you, each and every one of you for your role in this site, its success and for hopefully sharing in the bragging rights too. Because this isn’t happening anywhere else. Happy birthday, Sky Blue Window.