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2024 solar eclipse initiative to support arts, cultural activities in rural Indiana

May 24, 2023

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A new initiative launched by the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement will help rural Indiana communities host arts and cultural events and activities related to the 2024 solar eclipse.

With funding support from the Simons Foundation, the Center for Rural Engagement will facilitate rural engagement for IU’s solar eclipse initiative, providing staff support, resources and outreach for community activities — with a focus on arts and culture — that unite residents around the historic astronomical event.

Organizations in communities with populations less than 50,000 can also apply for micro-grants up to $2,000 to support the implementation of eclipse activities. Regional Opportunity Initiatives is acting as the fiscal agent for the grant program and will provide technical assistance to facilitate the eclipse micro-grant program.

A woman smiles. Kerry Thomson. Photo courtesy of IU Center for Rural Engagement

“The 2024 eclipse will be a momentous occasion for many of Indiana’s rural communities,” said Kerry Thomson, executive director of the Center for Rural Engagement. “Thanks to generous support from the Simons Foundation and Regional Opportunity Initiatives, rural residents and visitors will explore the cultural dimensions and creative inspiration of this solar event that will remain in our memories for a lifetime.”

The path of totality of the April 8 solar eclipse will cover a segment of the U.S. and Mexico, including a large part of Indiana, in complete darkness for up to four minutes as the moon shadows the sun. The next time Indiana will fall in the path of totality of a solar eclipse will be 2099.

While a solar eclipse is an event of scientific significance, such awe-inspiring moments have a profound impact on humanity and the sense of time, place and connection to each other and the universe. The Simons Foundation is focusing support on areas of the country that have fewer traditional science engagement opportunities than major metropolitan cities. Through partnerships with communities and organizations in the path of totality — including science museums, art organizations, cultural centers and local downtown districts — the Simons Foundation seeks to provide paths to meaningful, lifelong relationships with science that extend beyond this eclipse.

“At the surface level, there might not be much that connects Bloomington, Indiana, to Buffalo, New York, or Austin, Texas,” said Ivvet Modinou, vice president of science, society and culture at the Simons Foundation. “But for a few minutes next April, they’ll be connected by a cosmic event. We see the forthcoming solar eclipse as an opportunity for shared joy and wonder for communities.”

“The 2024 eclipse is an incredible opportunity for communities in the 11-county Indiana Uplands region,” said Tina Peterson, Regional Opportunity Initiatives president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Simons Foundation for supporting this once-in-a-lifetime event, and ROI is proud to work with the Center for Rural Engagement to launch this initiative that will allow visitors and Uplanders to experience all that our region has to offer.”

The Center for Rural Engagement invites community organizations to submit ideas for eclipse-related events and activities leading up to April 8 that include visual, public or performing arts; placemaking and design; film and cultural heritage. The micro-grant application will open this summer at rural.indiana.edu. For more information about the initiative, contact Hannah Jones at hanejone@iu.edu.

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IU Newsroom

Julia Hodson

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IU Center for Rural Engagement

Kyla Cox Deckard

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