Strong Academics - Arts & Humanities

Advocating for the arts

IU Bloomington’s students will graduate as passionate advocates for humanistic and artistic expression, inquiry, curation, and stewardship.

This aligns with IU Bloomington Bicentennial Objective Two.

$1 Million Henry Luce Foundation Grant

Funded with a $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and led by three scholars in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, the "Being Human" project will study what makes us human—from the terrible to the playful, in different places and times, in areas from imaginative arts to empirical sciences. The grant, awarded in December 2018, is funded through the Luce Foundation's Theology Program, and IU is one of only a small number of research institutions to receive a $1 million grant through this program.



Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, one of the Hoosier State’s most famous authors, Granfalloon brings together musicians, artists, thinkers, and good people from all walks of life for a multi-day celebration of art, ideas, and community to kick off the summer arts scene in Bloomington. The festival occurs each May, keeping at its heart the ethos of Vonnegut’s life and work: promoting civic engagement, encouraging independent thought, and championing art and creativity as essential to the spiritual life of individuals and the health of our democracy. 

Explore Granfalloon

In May 2018, 1,400 tickets were sold to the inaugural Granfalloon, which featured Father John Misty and Damien Jurado, among other visitors. Granfalloon 2019 features musical performances by renowned bands from across the U.S., academic panels and keynote addresses from leading Vonnegut scholars, and creative activities presented by IU and the Bloomington community. Guests include Neko Case, Dave Eggers, Parquet Courts, Khruangbin, Sudan Archives, Durand Jones & The Indications, Barrie, and Huckleberry Funk.

The festival brings together creative groups and organizations from across Bloomington, such as Cardinal Stage, Upland Brewing Company, Secretly Group, Voces Novae, and more. Local partners include: City of Bloomington, Upland Brewing Company, Spirit of '68 Promotions, Landlocked Music, Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Cardinal Stage, Voces Novae, Hopscotch Coffee, WonderLab Museum of Science, Technology and Health, Secretly Group, The Bluebird Nightclub, The Bishop, The Code & Key Escape Rooms, Soma, C3, Cardinal Spirits, Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, The Roost/Night and Day, Indiana Humanities, Laughing Planet,, and Limestone Post.

First Thursdays


The First Thursdays festival takes place in and around the arts plaza on the first Thursday evening of each warm-weather month and regularly attracts from 3,000 to 4,000 visitors, about 60 percent of whom are students. More than 1,000 freshmen checked in at the Hoosier Experience table at First Thursdays in Fall 2018. First Thursdays has become a feature of campus tours for parents and prospective students, and several high school groups visited campus this year to attend.

Explore First Thursdays

About four dozen students volunteer at each festival, and an average 150 students and faculty share performances, exhibitions, displays, and interactive activities, highlighting new and ongoing productions to help build regular arts and humanities experiences into the campus’s social calendar. The event has been used as a platform for other campus initiatives, such supporting the Political and Civic Engagement program’s Big Ten Voting Challenge. The festival has also become a unique setting for welcoming campus visitors and introducing them to IU Bloomington's vibrant and dynamic cultural scene. 

  • Nearly 200 guests visit each of roughly 20 information tables.
  • Venues such as the Lilly Library on the arts plaza report over 500 guests each night of First Thursdays.
  • About 550 meals are served from food carts provided by Residential Programs and Services
  • An informal survey of attendees found that 95% of visitors plan to return to First Thursdays.