Art's mandate—especially after HB 2 and Trump—is to change the world not by force, but by enlarging coalitions. After all, art's effects are limited in scope only when its participants are. When the art world includes enough people, it can redraw social norms and cultivate radically empathetic perspectives far beyond galleries and stages. All the Triangle-based arts institutions, collectives, and people the INDY selected as winners of our 2016 Indies Arts Awards, which we have given out annually for more than twenty-five years, have one striking thing in common: this timely goal of widening inclusion and broadening discourse.
Toward that end, each of our honorees has made major moves this year. Kelly McChesney sacrificed her essential Flanders Gallery to keep Raleigh institution Lump alive. Durham Artists Movement held safe space for and gave voice to marginalized, imperiled groups. Sarah Shook and Erika Libero sought safe spaces in the commercial sphere and made stickers to mark them. N.C. Opera developed intimate relationships to put Raleigh on the opera map. Culture Mill advanced its research on sustainable artistic cultures, and the Women's Theatre Festival confronted gender-parity problems on local stages.
We at the INDY feel proud and humbled to live and work among these people, all of whom found ways of serving and galvanizing communities at a time when they feel more vital than ever. This is our small way of saying thanks.