Artists Elevated is an investment in people

We recently announced the 2022 Artists Elevated awards with investments of $20,000 in unrestricted funds going to Filmmaker Sterling Carter and Choreographer Mariah Layne French.

Our hope, when we developed the Artists Elevated awards, was that this money would provide artists the financial boost they need to expand their career to new heights—whatever that might look like for the individual. So, of course I was thrilled to hear back from our 2021 awardees.

Erika Tay Lane, a theater director, actor and writer, is thinking long term and making sure that what she does with the money is sustainable. She has all the pieces in place to launch her own production company, Walter Lane Style, LLC (named after her dog) which will in turn employ more artists.

Quianna Simpson, a dancer and choreographer, used the investment to do study and research abroad and take advantage of an opportunity to perform her own choreography in New York. Fresh from the impact of travel on her art, she is now turning her focus to developing a nonprofit that will host residencies in other countries for women artists.

This is what investment does. It has a ripple effect throughout the community.

With so much talent in Columbus, choosing who will receive these awards is a daunting task. In an effort to be as impartial as possible, we purposefully choose professionals representing seven artistic disciplines (dance, fashion, film, literature, music, theater and visual arts) who do not live and work in our city.

This year’s jury included: April Berry, director of community engagement and education at Kansas City Ballet; Michael Drummond, fashion designer; Linda Miller, film and TV producer; Carter Sickels, author and winner of the Southern Book Prize, Weatherford Award and Ohioana Book Award in fiction; Michael Mitchell, award-winning pianist, music director, composer and orchestrator who is an endorsed Yamaha Artist; Melissa Tayler, executive director of Reno Little Theater; and Nadiah Fellah, associate curator of contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

I do not envy their job. First they whittle the 90 plus applicants down to 14 finalists—two in each discipline. Then they have the herculean feat of choosing two awardees. Anyone familiar with the names of the finalists knows that the competition was steep and the choice incredibly difficult.

The 2022 finalists are: dance: Karen Wing; fashion: Joan Madison and Xuena Pu; film: Gabrielle Burton; literature: Marcus Jackson andMaggie Smith; music:Antoine Clark and Hannah Moore; theater: Christopher Austin and Christopher Leyva; and visual arts: Laura Alexander and Eliana Saari. Thanks to the continued generosity of the community in giving to our Endowment, this incredible group of talented artists will each receive $1,000 each and be invited to reapply next year.

I look forward to hearing from Sterling Carter and Mariah Layne French in 2023 and learning about how this investment fuels their artistic growth and ripples across our community.

Tom Katzenmeyer, president & CEO of Greater Columbus Arts Councsil, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.