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A headshot of Levi Rinker in a brown sweater with glasses and a cap.

Patron in the City: Levi Rinker

We believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City, dedicating their time, sweat, and tears to building vibrant communities.

Community improvement means more than providing for a community’s basic needs—it also means supporting the arts and culture of those living there. When Levi Rinker and his partner Sonia saw a need for accessible arts in their community, they founded the artist’s co-op, A Town Center in Anderson, Indiana.

A Town Center participated in the CreatINg Places crowdgranting program for the first time in 2017. Through a crowdfunding campaign, the organization raised over $14,000 to complete renovations to a vacant space in downtown Anderson, Indiana–double the initial goal of $7,000!

In the summer of 2023, A Town Center launched a crowdfunding campaign for Anderson’s Artist Alley, which sought to transform an underused alley into an outdoor exhibition space for local artists. This free and public space would display ten local artworks on rotation year-round and encourage the thriving arts scene in Anderson. A Town Center exceeded its crowdfunding goal of raising $39,839 in support for the Artist Alley.

By reaching their initial crowdfunding goal of $38,750, A Town Center unlocked a matching grant from the CreatINg Places program, our crowdgranting partnership with the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The project received additional funding from AARP Indiana’s CreatINg Liveable Communities pilot program, providing an extra $5,000.

Today, the Artist Alley features two archway gates that welcome visitors. Interactive overhead LED lighting illuminates the alley, creating a vibrant space at all times of day. Public art pieces by local artists line the alleyway in what has become an outdoor art gallery.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Levi about Anderson’s Artist Alley's impact on the community and how these unique programs amplified their efforts.

About Levi

Levi Rinker is a slave to the man, trading away his mere existence “all for the betterment of society,” or so he tells himself… Geesh! What a martyr! You can find this rat stuck in the 9-5 race wearing a cheerleading skirt for local government and clicking his tap shoes to a revitalizing beat downtown. After work, he puts on a ridiculous cape and turns into the Art Director for A Town Center, a local artist co-op he co-founded with his partner Sonia. Under this umbrella, they scholarship yearly artist assistantships, host First Friday gallery openings, and offer painting and printmaking classes, kids’ camps, movie nights, and musical/theatrical events to the community.

Five people in an alley lined with framed artwork and lights. Three people stand and look at the camera, while two people sit on swings facing away from the camera and look back.
The Ginther Family enjoying the Artist Alley

Patronicity: Why do you love where you live and work?

Levi: So the idea of “LOVE” has evolved for me over the years. The passionate honeymoon phase is over, and the unhinged energy I used to have has faded. I have a more mature relationship with my city now. I pay taxes financially and emotionally. Nevertheless, I guess I would have to say it is the blank canvas of opportunity that I love about where I live and work.

Here I get to create or be involved with much larger projects that transform the quality of life for other residents. I still get to show a random painting, photograph, or do some piece of installation art in the gallery when I get the proverbial creative itch or feel stir-crazy.

However, most of my time is spent curating community projects. I’ve graduated from putting out my own public art sculptures and murals to installing a disc golf course, putting in better river access points, planting trees, and, most recently, converting this alleyway into an outdoor exhibition space that gives other artists the opportunity to grow through our artist co-op we’ve founded.

Patronicity: What's the purpose behind your crowdfunding campaign, and what makes this project so important to your community?

Levi: We most recently did an alley activation project that took a very dark and seemingly scary alcove of downtown and converted it into a well-lit outdoor exhibition space that displays a rotation of artwork from artists practicing within our community.

The Anderson Art Alliance hosts monthly First Friday Art Walks, and it was our intention to add this spot as another point of interest on the map that ultimately raises our walkability and connectivity rating within the core of the city.

Moreover, it is adjacent to the historic Paramount Theater, and its visitors get hit with an unexpected WOW factor when they stumble upon the alleyway while coming to a show. That is what I love about public art. Most people are not intentional about making trips to see outdoor public artworks. Therefore, it often hits the viewer at unexpected times. It is as if you are just walking down the sidewalk, and someone pops out and says, “Hey buddy, have you considered taking in more art in your life?” And just like that, people’s lives are changed...if even for a brief moment.

Patronicity: What have been the results of your crowdfunding campaign?

Levi: We went above and beyond our initial goal, which allowed us to add upgrades with security cameras and lighting in other areas of downtown adjacent to the alleyway. We are currently working on expanding the artist alley theme to include a 500’ stretch of alleyway that connects the Anderson Museum of Art to our Town Center Plaza. The expansion is phased out over the next four years so that we can show steady and continual growth. In the end, we get more connectivity, more walkability, and more community engagement. It was a win-win-win for everyone involved.

Patronicity: Did the crowdfunding campaign help to expand your organization’s network and connection with your community?

Levi: Luckily, our track record for doing fun projects every year has kept a strong group of supporters on our side. These organizations and individuals have been with us ever since our first Patronicity campaign in 2017, and they have shown us constant support whenever we bring another project up for consideration.

It was great to see AARP’s involvement, and I look forward to seeing how that relationship grows.

MIBOR has been coming on strong with their Economic and Community Development Council Grants in many communities and we were blessed to be part of that group’s overall vision for engagement as well. If you know other organizations, please send them my way!

We are excited to announce that CreatINg Livable Communities is back to build vibrant communities across Indiana! CreatINg Livable Communities is a partnership between AARP Indiana and IHCDA. To further the missions of both AARP’s Livable Communities program and IHCDA’s CreatINg Places crowdgranting program, CreatINg Livable Communities is a pilot partnership that assists Indiana communities in funding place-based projects for aging in place. AARP Indiana will provide additional funding to five CreatINg Places projects that benefit Hoosiers 50-plus. Learn more and find the program guidelines at

Patronicity: How has the community at large and/or the arts community responded to the project?

Levi: People use it now! Before, people were using it in the alley (if you catch my subtle nuance there...). Whenever I walk or drive by, I see people on the swings or in groups pointing, staring, or taking photos of the artwork. That is a huge win compared to the previous alternative.

After the grand unveiling, The Anderson Museum of Art asked us to consider their alleyway for an expansion, and I am excited to say we are moving forward to cover that 500’ stretch in a phased-out four-year plan.

We have also started to see other artists coming out of the woodwork, from under their rocks, and out of the caves; asking to be a part of the bigger picture. Currently we have 56 artists already lined up to participate, and that is not even going outside the city limits to tap into other creative potential. I guess it is safe to say people are happy with the momentum.

A bird’s eye view of Anderson’s planned artist alley expansion with key areas outlined with ideas.
Anderson Artist Alley Growth Strategy Overview 5 Year Plan

Patronicity: If someone wanted to become more involved in their community, what advice would you give them?

Levi: Follow your heart and your interests, and use your unique talents to serve in whatever capacity that does not drain you.

Service before self might sound heroic, but it is not a solution for what is best for you and your mental health in the long term. Your community does not need a martyr. Serving with your true self (your unique gifts/talents) is a service to yourself and, in turn, a better service to your community.

So yeah, join a club, paint a mural, tutor a student, walk a shelter dog, plant a tree, and volunteer for an organization. What else are you going to do?

Patronicity: What advice would you give to other communities considering a similar project?

Levi: If you are looking at an artist alley concept, I would highly recommend implementing a rotation of artworks as part of the project rather than painting a semi-permanent mural intended to stay for the life of the paint.

It encourages reoccurring visits and grows the numbers of those participating and supporting the project throughout the years, which will, in turn, grow and strengthen your community as a whole.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Do you have an idea for creating change in your community? Become a patron in your city by launching your project today at

Community members stand in a long line across the archway to the artist alley holding a bright red ribbon.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Artist Alley.