Q&A with Ann Dancing’s Doctor

Think about the last time you were sick. Did you visit the doctor? Did you call a friend to help? Did you lean on a certain medicine or routine that makes you gain your energy and health back? We all need someone who can help heal us when we are broken. And for Ann Dancing, that person is Phil Sheingold, aka Ann’s Doctor. Phil has been working on Ann Dancing since the very beginning in 2008. While his care for Ann Dancing fell into his lap through a company transition, he’s enjoyed every second of working with Ann Dancing!

“About 10 years ago, SignCraft completed the acquisition of another sign company,” Phil said. “We became responsible for her well-being from that point on.  We completed the relocation of the structure (used for the 2006-2007 Julian Opie exhibition) to its current location on Mass Ave where it now displays Ann Dancing by Julian Opie.  As I moved on from SignCraft, I maintained the relationship with the Cultural Trail given my knowledge of Ann Dancing. I  have continued to provide any maintenance needs to this day.”

As you know from our campaign efforts, Ann Dancing is facing many challenges. Part of this fundraising effort is focused on raising money to fix and update Ann Dancing.

“As Ann Dancing was not designed for a continuous outdoor location, she has many needs,” Phil said. Based on his “diagnosis” – Ann Dancing needs the following updates to heal:

  • Ann Dancing’s framework is a completely sealed structure. So, the heat throughout the day creates an oven environment, which impacts the electronic components. In fact, Ann Dancing has reached temperatures where Phil had to use his glove to handle the framework and replacement parts. Some plastic connectors deform and need to be replaced. This would be like your body constantly fighting a fever every single day.
  • The material inside Ann Dancing’s construction rust easily, especially given the winter, salt, and overall environment. There is continued degradation of her structure that now makes it difficult to keep her watertight.
  • Due to the continued entry required for repairs, the holes for the fasteners on both the outer shields and inner panels have worn to a point that many are no longer functional. Also, there are several fasteners that can no longer be removed. Imagine you needed to have surgery once a month and the scar tissue kept building up and making it harder and harder for the doctor to enter your body and heal you!
  • The supplier of the internal power supply fans is no longer carrying the upgraded units that auto-reset when the temperature cools down. We are running low on those better replacements. If we go back to the older style, we will continue doing even more repairs and adding to the overall structural issues. Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” That’s what we are doing if we continue to attempt fixing Ann Dancing following these methods.
  • On a final note, Phil is running low on the electrical tape that keeps everything together!

So, basically – just imagine if you had to stay out in the brutal, summer sun all day long and wore a snowsuit the entire time. You would overheat and have no internal cooling. You would have a hard time dancing too!

Over the years, Phil has made upgrades that help reduce Ann Dancing’s failures. When the issues happen, they need to happen in groups. Yes, you’re probably thinking the same quote we are: “When it rains, it pours!” That’s how everything goes down with Ann Dancing too. If you ever see Ann Dancing doing her Houdini impression of dancing, but she is missing a part of her body (YIKES), that’s when a power supply has failed. If the panel is completely off, the main power supply for that panel has failed. The first issue is more common, which certainly makes for an interesting visual.

By investing in Ann Dancing and updating her technology, she will see giant benefits! The upgrades are designed for the environment along with the simpler replacements. Ann Dancing requires the same support and protection that the digital boards around Indy are designed with to sustain year-round weather and conditions. Through these updates, The Indianapolis Cultural Trail can also manage Ann Dancing remotely, which is a wonderful benefit too! This is why creating a maintenance fund for Ann Dancing and other art on the trail is so important!

In the end, Phil wants everyone to know that Ann Dancing really is timeless.

“Having seen her sisters in other States, the response to her is the same – kids dancing with her, adults dancing with her, selfies everywhere, and an overall good feeling when you see her. Gaining 10+ more years of having Ann Dancing as an ambassador for creating those emotions, reactions, and memories seems like a really good thing to me.”

At the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, we hope to continue spreading those same memories and experiences with public art.

If are passionate about public art and keeping our city dancing with Ann Dancing, please consider making a donation! There are many ways you can Keep Ann Dancing, including: