A Goal To Make The Switch Into A Hub
With the updates comes a new vision for The Switch Theatre. Whisman and Lee started with the name. “Switch” hearkens back to the city’s origins as the Fishers Switch along the railroad where the community came to life.
The next moves are to market The Switch and brand it separately from the Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy, which owns it. Whisman would like to buy talent and have the space continue to play host to events including classical concerts, fundraisers, meetings, open mics and touring performers every night of the week.
“We’re really trying to make it that hometown venue for now until something comes along or until we can afford to build something bigger,” Whisman said.
In addition to the city, Whisman sees The Switch’s growth as benefiting the academy.
“Our ultimate goal all along has always been to be a full-time school, and our model has been to wrap that around a venue. The venue was always kind of central to the plan, but we didn’t have the money to start it right away, so we started the school, which we could get going right away,” Whisman said.
“That’s worked, and now, we’re really starting to turn our attention to, ‘OK, we’ve got to build this venue so that the venue can start to carry the school.’ “
Part of the plan lies in creating a core group of organizations that will be anchored to The Switch.
“If you can get a place where you have eight to 10 groups, performing and visual, I think that makes a statement. You can publicize that,” Rich said.
How The Academy Came To Fishers
The music academy was born in 2004. The seed had been planted years earlier when Whisman met Lee at his first piano lesson. She was an accomplished pianist who had earned a master’s degree at Indiana University. He was an IT guy who’d always wanted to learn music but didn’t have the chance until he was an adult.
The two married and built a school where students take private and group lessons in piano, voice, stringed instruments and percussion, among others. A youth theater program puts on productions.
Whisman and Lee began the academy at their home before moving to their first space near 131st Street and State Road 37 a few years later and finally to their current 7,000-square-foot location at east 126th Street and Cumberland Road in 2010.
Studio 37 initially had been a recording studio side project at the academy, and the name stuck when they fashioned a tiny theater at the back of their current space. A promoter joined them for a while to bring in concerts, and after he left, customers who knew the theater was there attended shows by traveling acts. Whisman said he didn’t make an effort to market the shows those who knew about them came.
Over time, community arts organizations began using Studio 37 as well, and the calendar filled up for the now-200-seat theater. Fishers Community Chorus shows, traditional Irish music, Indian music, rehearsals, fundraisers and plays have been among a growing slate of events.
Serving Fishers Since 2004
Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy has been providing music lessons, youth theater, and early childhood music classes to the Fishers and surrounding area since 2004. Our founder, Ji-Eun Lee, immigrated for Seoul, South Korea in the early 1990’s. She studied piano performance at Indiana University. After graudating with her Masters of Music she remained in the area as a Church pianist and private teacher. In 2004 she opened the academy after her private teaching had grown too large for her to teach all her students. We don’t just love play and teach music. We believe music is an essential part of life. Music is entertaining. Music relieves stress. Music helps us communicate with one another. When children learn to sing or play an instrument they grow intellectually. Children will learn to express ideas and emotions through music. Countless studies have been done that prove people who play music not only achieve better grades in school, but they are generally happier in life. It is also a life skill — when we are all too old to play basketball or soccer we will still have music whether it’s the Church choir, community band, or simply playing for our personal enjoyment at home. We want to share music with everyone. If you are ready to realize that dream give us a call today!
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Group Classes & Activities
For students interested in group activity we have a robust youth theater program for ages 7 to 17! We produce eight to ten, age-appropriate musicals every year. The musicals feature professionally recorded sound tracks, theatrical effects, costumes, choreography, acting, singing, and, of course, lots and lots of fun! Each product lasts roughly 15 weeks. Each week the cast rehearses for 70 to 90 minutes. The production ends with a minimum three shows , and sometimes SIX shows . Costumes must be provided by the student, but we often help with costume-specific props or, sometimes, we have some costumes in storage that you can use.
Youth Choir of Fishers
Youth Choir of Fishers focuses on the first to fourth grade students. There is no audition. Every student is welcome. No experience necessary. The choir is fun and inclusive and intended to teach the musical arts through vocal ensemble. If you want to know more head over to the Youth Choir of Fishers page on our website!
PRISM Project of Fishers
What It Means For Fishers’ Future
The Switch’s upgrades could mean quite a bit in a city with a lack of indoor performance space. A November IndyStar story chronicled Fishers artists’ difficulties in finding a dedicated place to show visual art, rehearse and perform. Groups have been relegated to living rooms, nearby cities, parks and a library basement.
Mayor Scott Fadness told IndyStar in November that a publicly funded performing and visual arts center wasn’t a priority at this point. The Fishers Arts Council had been raising $500,000 by 2020 toward a performing arts center and goals associated with it.
Now, that has changed. Rich said the council remains interested in raising money but has put the performing arts center on hold as it explores partnering with a current business to lease space for a small office and gallery. He mentioned the academy or Hub & Spoke, a design center and makerspace that will break ground on construction this summer, as potential ideas.
The Fishers Arts and Culture Commission is also carefully watching The Switch’s development. The commission, which began in January, was formed just after the Indiana Arts Commission made the city’s Nickel Plate District a statewide cultural district, a designation that will help Fishers obtain state and federal funding.
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