The Best of Indy's Thriving Art Scene

From classical and pop concerts to opera and ballet, from dinner theaters and cabarets to the renowed IndyFringe Festival, Indianapolis boasts an eclectic, exciting performing arts scene.

Year after year, Indianapolis’ performing arts scene receives a standing ovation. From ballet to opera to classical theater to new plays debuting onstage, the city has a vibrant culture that continues to thrive.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre: What pairs best with a live stage production? Dinner, of course. Since 1973, Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre has been simultaneously dishing up both theatrical performances and lavish dinners.

The Center for the Performing Arts: A hub for the arts, the Center for the Performing Arts is led by artistic director Michael Feinstein. The center plays host to local theater, dance and music organizations, and guest artists such as Postmodern Jukebox, Chris Botti and Michael McDonald. Check the website for a schedule.

Postmodern Jukebox
Postmodern Jukebox (Courtesy Center for the Performing Arts)

Indianapolis Opera: All the passion and drama of opera take center stage at the Indianapolis Opera which has been a part of the Indianapolis artistic community since 1975.

EclecticPond Theatre Company: Founded in 2010, this nonprofit touring company presents classic and modern works in addition to specially crafted study guides for young audiences. Productions are held at schools and other venues throughout the state.

Indianapolis City Ballet: Since 2009, City Ballet has presented the best in classical ballet and contemporary dance. The organization also plays host to numerous events throughout the year. 

The Cabaret: The Cabaret features a range of artists and performers, all in an intimate setting—which includes cocktails. Enjoy professional performances by Will Swenson, Seth Rudetsky, Emily Skinner and others. 

IndyFringe: Known especially for the IndyFringe Festival each August, this unique theater organization aims to encourage, support and assist independent artists and allow them to bring their work to life.

Man dipping dance partner
IndyFringe Festival (©Daniel Axler)

Indiana Repertory Theatre: Nine different shows are produced annually at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. As the premier theater organization in Indianapolis, the IRT has been presenting productions for audiences of all ages for more than 45 years.

Violinist in a symphony
Michelle Kang, violinist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (©Tom Russo)

The Symphony: For more than 80 years, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has been a leader of the city's impressive cultural scene. Founded in 1930 with volunteer musicians, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra went professional in 1937 under the directorship of Fabien Sevitzky, nephew of the renowned conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

The ISO soon became a pinnacle of culture on the Indianapolis performing arts scene and one of the country's leading orchestras.

Touring the world in the 1950s and '60s, the ISO received international acclaim in addition to a letter of commendation from President John F. Kennedy. The symphony's current music director, Krzystof Urbański, was appointed in 2011 and, at the time, was the youngest music director of a major U.S. orchestra. The ISO presents a variety of programs from the Lilly Classical Series to pop concerts to the children-focused SymFUNy Sundays.

Krzysztof Urbański
Krzysztof Urbański (©M. Maslanka)