Cheers to All the People Who Raise the Arts in Columbus

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In exactly one week we will host our annual Community Arts Partnership awards and I’m excited—probably more so than usual because this will be far from the usual awards luncheon.

This event means many things to me. On one hand it’s an opportunity to recognize individuals and businesses that go above and beyond to support the arts. This is important, and it’s also worth noting that support doesn’t just mean dollars donated (although those are very important to the health of our arts sector).

Our city is fortunate enough to have businesses of all sizes that find ways to boost the arts in our city. Some offer their services, resources and expertise, allowing a mean and lean organization such as the Harmony Project to embark on a video project that their budget could have never supported.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Others go out of their way to hire local performers and use their considerable resources and creativity to help performing groups get in front of new audiences. Others choose to purchase local artwork to display in their public spaces, which not only pays an artist, but signifies to the world that Columbus artists are prominent.

The individual award nominees are always awe inspiring. When I read the letters written on behalf of each nominee I am struck by these people who give so much of themselves to further arts and culture in Columbus. Inevitably when I talk to the winners (you can read about this year’s here), they are humble and a little surprised by the recognition—as if they don’t realize how much impact they have by simply being passionate and dedicated.

This one day is, at its core, about celebrating those people who hold it all together—sometimes with duct tape and hope—but don’t necessarily get to bask in the applause that is aimed at the artists they support. But art still permeates everything about the event, how could it not.

The awardees are presented with original works of art purchased from local artists. Local arts organizations are recognized for exemplary productions through our Columbus Makes Art Excellence awards. Performances have always been part of the event and this year we will have more than ever. Pop-up performances by some of Columbus’ most well-know arts organizations and artists will make this year’s program something very unique.  WOSU creates wonderful videos that help tell the story of our individual winners, and one of my favorite contributions are the centerpieces. Each year Columbus children who participate in the Art in the House and TRANSIT ARTS programs create approximately 50 centerpieces for our event, and each year when I see them placed reverently on the tables I am reminded why I do what I do.

One last thought about this celebration of all the hands that touch the arts—a portion of the proceeds from the Community Arts Partnership awards benefit the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and students like the ones who make our beautiful centerpieces. It truly is a good day.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, Keep up with Tom’s adventures on Twitter: @tomkatzenmeyer