The Arts as a Workplace

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It’s become a common refrain that the arts and culture sector benefit communities. Study after study is showing that the arts not only enhance the quality of life for a city’s residents, but they also give central Ohio an economic boost. The latest Arts & Economic Prosperity study, for instance, showed that the arts generated $412.3 million in annual economic activity, supports the equivalent of 15,000 jobs and created $373 million in household income.

There is growing evidence that the arts are advantageous for companies looking to attract and retain talent. Encounters with the arts improve the quality of life for employees, create a sense of giving back to the community and even build problem-solving skills. The most important factor, I believe, is that these experiences build connections between people working in different fields. Employees working in finance or engineering or medical fields get to connect with performers and visual artists and writers.

In Columbus, we’re also showing that the arts are the workplace. For many artists in our community, a job in the arts — either as an individual artist or working for one of our institutions or both — is how they make their livelihood, and in doing so they’re enhancing central Ohio.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

This is one of many reasons why we’re excited for the return of Columbus Open Studio & Stage (COSS) in early October. It’s a dual opportunity to create these experiences for the residents of Columbus and create a sustainable environment for the artists who create art here.

On Oct. 7-8, more than 50 artists within the 270 loop will welcome visitors into their studios and seven performance venues will invite people back stage at their theaters. Artists get to showcase their work and let Columbus peek into their creative process. COSS allows us to further the mission of our Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign and to build interest in and engagement with the artists right here in our community. Artists frequently labor in private to create very personal work, and they’re graciously opening up their studios to share their creations with us.

Also, the central Ohio community gets to discover new workplaces. Nothing compares to being able to talk to an artist directly and learn about their inspiration and process. Seeing how — and where — artists create gives you a whole new appreciation of their artwork, as you come to learn how every brush stroke or line drawn with a pen or cut made with an Xacto knife culminates in the beautiful work we see in galleries, businesses and homes around our city and beyond. And in the process people who aren’t in the arts deepen their connection to Columbus.

Last year was a great start, with nearly 1,400 studio visits and thousands of dollars of artwork purchased. This year is going to be even better, as more artists across multiple neighborhoods will throw open their doors, more community partners offer free programming and more of our famous theater spaces take people behind the scenes. It’s going to be an exhilarating weekend, and I can’t wait to see the new discoveries we make. Most importantly, I’m excited to see how Columbus artists will make a further impact, culturally and economically, on our city.

So come join me on a tour, and see how Columbus makes art!

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.