In the summer of 2000, I began working at the Indianapolis Museum of Art as an intern for the Summer Nights Film series. Already in its 25th season, the lineup had grown from a handful of films in 1976, to every Friday, boasting a steady crowd of regulars who would queue up at 4 pm, loaded up with chairs and picnic baskets filled to the brim, waiting for their chance to purchase tickets. It didn’t take long for me to understand that the evenings were just as much about the time spent with friends relaxing before the movie as they were about watching the film itself.
Still rooted in the same tradition, Summer Nights has been given the opportunity for significant growth over the past 6 years. With the addition of title sponsor The National Bank of Indianapolis in 2012, we began to add live music and a few art-making opportunities. The support of The National Bank of Indianapolis combined with the 2014 ARTx grant from the Efroymson Family Fund, allowed us to continue to enrich the experience even further. Guests now have the opportunity to build their own evening, choosing to relax on the terrace, walk through Fairbanks Park, visit the IMA Galleries or Beer Garden, or join activities associated with the film they will be seeing (for instance, lei making and hula lessons before Grease 2, a self-defense primer prior to seeing Dial M for Murder, or a spelling bee before Akeelah and the Bee).
With this expansion of offerings, 2015 saw our first season of films selling out prior to the screening, sometimes within a few weeks of going on sale. To meet the demand, we added Saturday screenings in 2016 and tested out new locations on campus in 2017. Our 2019 slate of more than 20 films has the capacity to welcome 10,000 guests, both first-time visitors who will start new traditions and familiar faces who we look forward to seeing each year—like the group of friends who plan elaborately themed picnics, the film buff who puts everyone to shame during trivia, and the couple who had their first date at Summer Nights and will return (unbeknownst to her) for a proposal.
Tickets for the 2019 season will go on sale to members April 16 and to the public on April 30. We look forward to seeing you, your family and friends this summer.
The Summer Nights Film Series is generously supported by The National Bank of Indianapolis.