Investing in the Arts. Building Community. Together.

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks and once again I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude toward the city of Columbus—the people and the institutions that support the arts.

Most recently, June 16, the Greater Columbus Arts Council board of trustees approved $8,578,211 in grants to arts organizations through Operating Support and General Support grants (more on those in a moment). This is an historic number for us and it is made possible with funds received from the city of Columbus the arts and culture fee on admissions, the hotel/motel bed tax and Franklin County. These awards are a milestone for the Arts Council and they represent what Columbus can do when we all work together.

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

This vote of course happened just days after the Columbus Arts Festival’s return to the riverfront—what a weekend! For me the most satisfying part of the Columbus Arts Festival is talking to the artists. This year felt different. I don’t know if it’s because I have missed this event so much, or because the artists were so happy to be back, but the joy I encountered was truly uplifting. And, it was everywhere. The energy on site was incredible—people singing in the streets as the festival closed for the evening, children dancing at the music stages, and artists enjoying strong sales. It was an epic weekend to be sure and all of it is made possible by private funders—sponsors and patrons. No public dollars are used for this free community event.

And, if my cup of joy wasn’t already full, we kicked of the Arts Festival with a dedication of three new murals at the new Peninsula garages. Three Columbus-based artists were commissioned to create the murals: Adam Hernandez, Lucie Shearer and Nick Stull. Every time new public art is added to our landscape, this time through a partnership between the city of Columbus and the Downtown Development Corp., Columbus gets a little better.

Lots of people in both the public and private sectors in Columbus are working together to bring more public art and public art awareness to our city. We just launched our ArtWalks 2.0 app, a partnership with Columbus Public Health, Can’t Stop Cbus and Novvia. You can filter by kind of art (Love murals? Find them all!) or set up a user profile and save your favorite public art. You can download the app from links on our public art page, which also offers a searchable database of public art. Next week we’ll be announcing a fun, temporary public art project that will go up later this year and I promise you plenty more on the horizon for our city in the realm of public art.

I want to say one more thing about the grants that were awarded this week. While Operating Support grantees saw large increases to their awards, this year we also progressed year-round producing organizations previously receiving Project Support to a new level called General Support. This grant provides unrestricted financial support and capacity-building and ensures that these organizations can still produce great content while maintaining a path to sustainability and growth.

I am so proud of the city of Columbus for its commitment to the arts, our arts organizations for perseverance and creativity during these challenging years, the audiences who are returning to support our creative sector and the Arts Council team for working tirelessly in support of the Columbus arts and artists. I look forward to continuing to build our arts community together.

—Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

Photo clockwise from left: Proud purchaser of a piece of art from Best of Show winner Richard Wilson from the Children’s Gallery; Tom Katzenmeyer and Sean Kessler present Richard Wilson the 2022 Best in Show award; We Were Promised Jetpacks performs on the ABC6 Bicentennial Park Stage at the Arts Festival; a performer on the Cultural Arts Center stage during The Black Women Rise Poetry Collective performance; Mayor Ginther with artist Nick Stull ad family during the dedication of the new Peninsula Garage murals; GCAC Operating Support and General Support grantees gather for a group photo and grant announcement. Photo credits: McKenzi Swinehart, Nick Dekker, David Heasley, city of Columbus, Toiana Almon.