Art abounds

Hendricks Live! introduces executive director

By Peg McRoy Glover

Chris Petrelli implemented his full professional stride when he took the reins as executive director of Hendricks Live!, the county’s new arts and entertainment venue in Plainfield. 

He came on board prior to its groundbreaking, bringing with him a full art background toolbox. He has a bachelor’s degree in theater and drama from Indiana University, topped off with a master of business administration from IU Kelley School of Business. 

His professional career started in New York City in 2003 where he worked as an associate producer, producer and director of project management. Conner Prairie living history museum in Fishers lured him back to Indiana as an interim director of marketing, then director of programs and education, senior director of museum experiences and eventually associate vice president of museum experiences. 

Petrelli’s previous experience proved to be a solid foundation for him to launch Hendricks Live! He considers his position a once in a lifetime opportunity and articulates a clear vision on future programming for the facility.  

“First and foremost we are a home for local and regional arts organizations,” said Petrelli. “A lot of our calendar is reserved for our partnerships with Hendricks County Civic Theater, Hendricks Symphony, Children’s Ballet and the Hendricks County Arts Council. We also want to be a place to help incubate new arts organizations as they develop and flourish.”

Partnering with other regional, Indianapolis and Indiana-based arts organizations is also part of the nonprofit’s mission. The theater plans to add high caliber national and international concerts and comedy acts.  

“I think our location is convenient for the west side of Indianapolis and even further west,” said Petrelli. “We also serve communities south of us such as Mooresville. We will provide an opportunity for people to really engage with art, culture and entertainment in a way they haven’t had a chance to do before.” 

Hendricks Live! will open in 2024 under the leadership of executive director Chris Petrelli and EveMarie Bessenbach, director of development and communications. (Photo by Catherine Myers)

EveMarie Bessenbach was recently hired as director of development and communications.

“I strongly believe in the transformative power of the arts,” said Bessenbach. “The arts have the power to change lives. Being able to share with the community the mission of Hendricks Live! and the role that we want to play in the community is a tremendous honor.”

Their top priorities include building public awareness and establishing Hendricks Live! as a welcoming, accessible place and a resource for all of Hendricks County and beyond. 

A community room on the second floor has access to a catering kitchen for family parties, wedding receptions, corporate events and meetings. 

“An example of what that means is that someone can come here to see a performance one weekend then come to a baby shower the next weekend,” said Bessenbach. “This is truly an art center for the entire community.”

The second floor space will also host smaller artistic events that don’t require huge sets or scenery such as jazz quartets, chamber music or small cabaret productions.  

An adjacent outdoor terrace can expand the space. Weather permitting, large glass doors open  from the community room to the terrace giving it an indoor-outdoor quality that can accommodate up to 160 people with afternoon light streaming into the area.

Hendricks Live! theater space in Plainfield will seat 600 patrons.

“A large portion of our operating budget is contributed income,” said Bessenbach. “That comes from building relationships.” 

Petrelli and Bessenbach are going out into the community to build those relationships. Obtaining fiscal partnerships is only a segment of their motivation for reaching out. 

“Our goal right now is to proactively reach the community so that everybody in Hendricks County knows we exist,” said Petrelli. “We will start our opening campaign in the fall of 2023. But right now we want to be in front of people so they know that we are celebrating the best of Hendricks County while bringing the best to Hendricks County.”  

Hendricks Live!

Theater details: Hendricks Live! has a proscenium stage — the stage frame separates the performance area from the audience. It can seat 600, with the majority on the main floor with the remaining in the balcony.

Guest speaking opportunities: Hendricks Live! holds monthly community conversations for the public to get information and ask questions. Petrelli and Bessenbach can also act as guest speakers for organizations that want to know more about Hendricks Live! Contact EveMarie Bessenbach, or (317) 417-9067.

Address: 200 W. Main St., Plainfield



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