First Friday Santa Cruz

Indexical’s Founder Finds a New Stage

Indexical’s Founder Finds a New Stage

by Bree Karpavage

Indexical’s journey began in 2011 in a converted chapel in Brooklyn, NY as a hub for experimental music and those who love to play it. Founder and Executive Director Andrew Smith and a handful of friends saw the need for a space dedicated to musicians who play outside the lines; music like free jazz, contemporary chamber music, and electroacoustic improvisation. 

In 2015 Andrew moved to Santa Cruz and began hosting concerts in various venues around the city. Indexical filled a musical void here and found fellow supporters and lovers of avant-garde music. A few years later Indexical became a nonprofit, secured substantial funding, and in 2021 once again found a brick-and-mortar home, this time in Studio 119 at the Tannery Arts Center. 

First Friday Exhibitions at Indexical: left – Suzy Poling & Paige Emery, “Landscape & Life” |  right – Paul Walde, “Alaskan Variations”

The mission of Indexical has always been to “engage the community in radical, unfamiliar, and thought provoking performance…working with historically, culturally and institutionally underrepresented artists.” Holding space for these artists, not only for live performance but also for artistic development is what Andrew says attracted him to start the organization 12 years ago. Indexical’s home at the Tannery has allowed him to do just that, building both a community of artists and community support.

After nine years in Santa Cruz, Andrew is moving on to become the next Executive Director of The Lab in San Francisco. Andrew describes The Lab as “the big sister” of and major inspiration for Indexical. Another nonprofit experimental artistic hub with a similar mission statement, just bigger (3,500 sq. ft.) and older (established 1984) and more artistically diverse, hosting not only performance art but also literary arts, visual arts, experimental video and cinema. The Lab will enable Andrew to undertake larger artistic projects, while continuing to build a network for touring artists and regional Bay Area artists to share their work on a greater platform.

For now, Andrew is preparing himself, Indexical and Indexical’s supporters for the transition. He is committed to ensuring that the next Executive Director succeeds. “I’m excited about the possibility of someone else coming in with different connections and different ideas, with a different frame of reference and artistic vision. I think that will be really healthy for Indexical,” says Andrew.

On Instagram @anindexofmusic