The Greater Columbus Arts Council has exciting changes coming to how we serve our artists, arts organizations and arts administrators through our funding programs.
This summer we did extensive constituent research to learn what artists and arts organizations need from us. Our goal was, and is, to reimagine how we are serving our artistic community.
Artists and organizations were sent surveys and we conducted multiple community roundtables and discipline-specific focus groups. We used a third-party consultant, Lachandra Baker, to manage this process with trained facilitators guiding the conversations. GCAC staff were not part of the discussions to ensure that participants could be honest and brave with their feedback.
Before I dive into how we plan to use this new data, I just want to thank everyone who provided feedback throughout this process. We cannot develop impactful programs that address the needs of the arts community without your direct input. While we are always available to listen and reevaluate our work, this effort took a larger commitment of time, energy and input from you to make meaningful changes.
There were a number of recurring themes from your input but at the root we heard that the needs of artists are the same human needs that we all have, and that Columbus needs to do better in addressing those needs in our sector.
The changes we are making for 2024 are just the first step. We are charting a multi-year plan to develop meaningful support that will better serve the Columbus arts community.
In 2024 you will see:
- A new Artists Project grant program with awards of $5-$10k that will fund at least 50 artists in the next year. This will be a competitive grant process. No fiscal sponsor will be required at the time of application and fiscal sponsors will be optional.
- Eligibility-based, noncompetitive, Funds for Artist grants will continue, however the maximum grant amount will be smaller and there will be more rigor around the definition of a working artist.
- We will implement a community review process to ensure transparency in funding decisions and give more people a seat at the table.
- More nonprofit resources will be available for small and mid-size organizations.
- We will develop more networking opportunities for the arts sector to learn, build community and break down silos, while we continue community roundtables, conversations and business-of-art workshops.
- We will be adding free monthly wellness sessions for the arts community that will be facilitated by The Ohio Rest Collective.
- We will continue and amplify messaging around fair and equitable compensation for artists and arts administrators.
- We will aggressively advocate for more artistic space in Columbus–from performing and rehearsal space, to studio, gallery, gathering and incubation space.
- We will continue to push for artists and arts voices to be at the table for economic and community development planning and promote artists as creative contributors and thought leaders to all businesses and nonprofits.
- And, we will develop more ways to share human service resources available in the community to help meet basic needs or address urgent situations.
These are a few specific areas of focus for 2024. We will also be researching new program ideas based on how other cities and countries support artists, arts administrators and arts nonprofits to find those golden nuggets that should be considered for Columbus. We look forward to working with you to build a better, more creative city—one that lifts up creators, residents and all of us.
We recently launched a new GCAC website at GCAC.org and the 2024 grants guidelines are online and waiting for your review. Choose “For Artists” or “For Organizations” at the top of the page and let your exploration begin.
—Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO & president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.