New arts center director settling into job


In his second week on the job at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, Sean Hildreth has had plenty to keep him busy.

Hildreth, who started as executive director May 20, has organized the center, helped with a reception of four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser, kicked off the center’s annual Friday Night Live concert series and soon will oversee its summer art camps.

“It has been a great start so far,” he said.

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Hildreth served as resource development director for Jackson County United Way for nearly six years before taking the position at the center. He said he loved what he did at Jackson County United Way and that the organization would continue to do great things for the community.

But Hildreth followed his passion to the center.

“I’ve always been passionate about the arts, everything from the stage to the canvas, and I think having an opportunity to build on the history of a cultural center that’s in my hometown was an amazing chance,” he said.

He has been drawn to art because he said it’s accessible to everyone through many forms, and interpretations can vary.

Hildreth has a bachelor’s degree in theater from Butler University and the fundraising experience to help the arts center. He also has a background in programming, as he worked for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum for eight years.

The position is 30 hours per week, but the goal Hildreth and board members have is to eventually create a full-time position.

“I think the main thing is to create a strong membership base and get people engaged and know what’s going on out here and have quality classes for youth,” he said.

To do that, Hildreth said the center must focus on quality programming for families and their children. The center also can focus on its rich history, as the building is owned by Seymour native and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member John Mellencamp. He leases it to the organization at virtually no cost but does not provide funds to operate it.

Other people have owned the home throughout the years, and SICA can draw upon those connections, too, Hildreth said.

“I feel blessed to be in a center like this because there is a story to tell just with the building,” he said.

He said they also could partner with existing organizations for collaborations.

“The community knows the resource we have in SICA because having a center like this with art displays, pottery displays, music and more enriches everything we have to offer,” he said.

For now, Hildreth is focused on continuing to settle in and offer the community a great place this summer through art camps, its monthly art displays, classes and live music.

“It’s great to get together with a blanket or lawn chair and spend time together listening to music in a beautiful setting,” he said.

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