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DECATUR, IND. (WPTA21)-They are all in place. 28 new sculptures populating downtown Decatur, Indiana making up the town’s 8th annual public sculpture tour. But these works are just part of Decatur’s growing commitment to public art.

On the west side of North Second Street is brick and mortar proof of Decatur’s budding discovery that art can stimulate a town’s economy. This is the 2nd Street Lofts Project, a revamped historic building dedicated to housing and providing workspace for artists. At street level there will be an art studio for creating new work, a gallery to show it off and a small store for the public to buy it. The upper two floors are being turned into 16 small, affordable apartments for the artists to live. The men and women selected for this art commune will also be trained to launch and maintain their own businesses.

So we want to make sure they have the tools the resources the training the classes they need to eventually get to the point where they can open their own business in our community,” says community development director Melissa Norby, “and hopefully one day maybe hire some employees.”

Decatur’s love affair with art didn’t appear out of nowhere. The town is the birthplace of sculptor David Smith, the most famous sculptor on planet earth, a world class artist who pioneered the metal sculpture artform and whose work can be found in the world’s finest galleries and private art collections. And now Decatur’s claim to world fame is helping to sustain the town he called home.

Little did I know that however many years ago with the sculpture tour this would really kind of explode,” says developer Kevan Biggs, “and put Decatur, Indiana on the national scene as the birthplace of American sculpture.”

The town is harnessing that fame to attract new talent and encourage the budding local art scene to pitch in, build new businesses, hire new workers and move Decatur’s economy in a different direction…toward discovery, creativity, new ideas and a new future all under the watchful eye of of this town’s most famous famous son. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

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