Six Months of In-Depth Research Reveals Insights into Public Art in Greater Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is pleased to announce the release of the State of Public Art report, a culmination of six months of extensive research and community engagement centered around public art in greater Columbus. This pivotal document offers a thorough analysis of the current state of public art in the region. While it is not the final plan itself, the report is a critical step in the creation of a comprehensive public art strategy for Columbus and Franklin County, which will be released in June 2024.
View the full State of Public Art report here.
“The research and public engagement components of this effort were critical steps in our path to creating a public art plan that works for Columbus,” said, Jami Goldstein, GCAC vice president of marketing and communications and staff lead for the project. “We have already learned so much, and we are looking forward to our continued dialogue with the community as we craft the plan.”
- Distribution of Public Art: Although there are more than 1,300 documented public artworks in Franklin County, they are concentrated in downtown Columbus and along primary transit corridors. More pointedly, significant portions of greater Columbus are devoid of any documented public art.
- Representation: Residents of the greater Columbus region expressed a need for public art that more fully represents the diversity of the region.
- Navigating Process: Artists, business owners, city staff and funders experience confusion and/or delays with the current process for developing public art.
- Call for Consistent Funding: There is a strong desire for a “New Columbus Way” that establishes a consistent public funding source for public art and encourages participation by private donors.
Survey results underscore the public’s appreciation for public art:
- 87% believe public art is extremely or very important.
- 95% agree that the city of Columbus and Franklin County should increase investments in public art.
Benefits of Public Art
The report concludes that there is research-backed evidence of the benefits of public art, which include:
- Social cohesion: Public art strengthens one’s affinity and sense of belonging to a place.
- Economic development: Public art boosts tourism, generates indirect revenue and creates jobs.
- Public health and safety: Public art furthers awareness of key issues and improves quality of life for residents.
- Built environment: Public art enhances the aesthetics of lived environments and shared public spaces.
Several stakeholders engaged through the planning process cited first-hand experience with some of these benefits.
“As a private developer in Columbus, I can speak firsthand to the value that public art and artists add to the creation of a high quality built environment— a crucial ingredient of successful economic development,” noted public art steering committee member Jeff Edwards, a Columbus-based developer and founder of the Edwards Companies.
The State of Public Art report serves as a foundational document for the upcoming Public Art Plan, set to enhance the cultural and artistic vibrancy of greater Columbus. It identifies strengths and challenges within the existing system, emphasizing the importance of public art in the daily lives of residents.
GCAC invites the public to engage with the findings of this report and contribute to the ongoing conversation about the crucial role of public art in our communities. For those with questions or feedback, monthly virtual drop-in sessions are available where participants can speak directly with researchers and GCAC staff. The next sessions are Feb. 14 at noon EST and March 6 at 1 p.m. EST. Details and registration can be found at www.takepartcolumbus.com/events.
Additional information about the research and planning process is available at www.takepartcolumbus.com.
This comprehensive study encompassed six months of detailed benchmarking, public art inventory mapping and an extensive public engagement process that prioritized equity and feedback. More than 2,000 Franklin County residents contributed their perspectives through interviews, roundtable conversations, public events and surveys.
Greater Columbus. Greater ART.
Greater Columbus. Greater ART. is an initiative led by GCAC in cooperation with the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the Columbus Art Commission, with support from professional consultancy Lord Cultural Resources and Columbus-based cultural practitioners Jonna Twigg and Marshall Shorts. A steering committee composed of representatives from local stakeholder groups will lend additional oversight and accountability for the planning process to ensure that key deliverables of the plan prioritize equity and access, both in terms of artists and cultural consumers. GCAC and its collaborators will present the final Greater Columbus Public Art Plan in summer 2024, which will mark a new era of advancement for public art in the region.
About the Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Greater Columbus Arts Council’s mission is to support and advance the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. GCAC funds artists and arts organizations in central Ohio, provides marketing services for artists and organizations through the ColumbusMakesArt.com event calendar, public art database and artist directory, and produces the annual Columbus Arts Festival. www.gcac.org
About Lord Cultural Resources
Lord Cultural Resources is the global practice leader in cultural sector planning. Since 1981, we have helped to create, plan and operate cultural spaces and places in more than 460 cities, in 57 countries and six continents. www.lord.ca
For media inquiries, please contact:
Sarah Irvin Clark
Jami Goldstein, VP, Marketing & Communications, GCAC
Holly Shen, Director, US, Lord Cultural Resources
CONTACT: Jami Goldstein