January 31 is National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day. It is a day to pause and reflect how art touches your heart—how it can move us to tears, cause us to bust out laughing, make us think, broaden our perspective and feed our humanity.
To celebrate, let’s take a moment to share the last work of art that really elicited a strong, emotional reaction—post using your social media platform of choice with #inspireyourheartwithart.
But what about the rest of the year? I pledge to actively seek out those inspiring moments by exploring the arts all year long. Are you with me? Great! Here are a few ideas for our year of seeking heart-inspiring experiences.
There are numerous opportunities to engage with the arts in our city, but because I believe that inspiration should be available to all, I am going to focus on a handful of the many opportunities that are consistently free or low cost.
For example, our incredible library system not only offers free access to the literary arts, film arts and recorded music in abundance, our libraries also have a rich visual arts collection and thanks to partnerships with groups such as ProMusica we can even enjoy the occasional live music performance. ProMusica’s Library Concert series starts in February.
On the subject of music, a fun challenge can be to experience a genre that you have little to no experience with. Between the many, many festivals in our city, plus free music series at Columbus Commons, Bicentennial Park, Goodale Park, the King Arts Complex and our sister councils (e.g. Upper Arlington, Dublin and Worthington) there are countless opportunities for free live music in all genres during the summer (and I’ve only given a few examples). We also have venues of all sizes that support local acts and bring in national acts and many of these have low admission fees, and they are bringing us music all year long.
Over the last several decades Columbus’ theater/performing arts scene has grown exponentially. With theaters of all sizes cropping up not only are audiences assured a range in the type of productions offered, we are given a range in cost—with many theaters offering donation or pay as you can based admission. Theaters that offer this do so with a mission of ensuring that theater is accessible to everyone, that income is not a barrier to experience. People who are able donate a little more, knowing it allows someone on a fixed income to watch for free.
For many of us film may feel like the most accessible art form—we can easily watch movies at home, there are plenty of movie theaters in our city, and ticket prices are generally reasonable. I personally am a fan of the Gateway Film Center, the Drexel and the Wexner Center for the Arts because they support local filmmakers and bring in movies that may not be getting as much mainstream buzz—e.g. documentaries, foreign language films, indie films, cult classics and movies from past years that deserve a fresh look. Gateway’s HOOT series, the last Saturday of every month is free with a donation of a canned good for the Open Shelter.
Exploring the visual arts is especially easy. Many galleries—both for-profit and nonprofit—are free to visit. There are so many that I’m afraid if I start listing them, I could end up with a short novella instead of a simple blog post. You can find a healthy listing of galleries by searching the organization section of ColumbusMakesArt.com. Some larger organizations, which normally charge admission, have free days. General admission is free at the Columbus Museum of Art every Sunday (and always for active military and veterans, as is the National Veterans Memorial Museum), Franklin Park Conservatory is free the first Sunday of every month for Franklin County residents and the Wexner Center is free every Thursday after 4 p.m.
I’ve noted a small slice of inspirational arts opportunities in Columbus. You can find more by searching events at ColumbusMakesArt.com, and because the inspiration that the arts bring should never be just for those who can afford it, the site has added a page curating recurring free arts experiences. Visit ColumbusMakesArt.com/free where you’ll find more details, including dates and times.
— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.