It is not unusual for a year to be full of both endings and beginnings. This year, however, the feeling of transition—of wrapping up old projects and embarking on new directions—seemed particularly poignant.
A few weeks ago we celebrated the book launch of Art / Activism / Action. The book is the end product of the #ArtUnitesCbus project, which spanned more than two years, grew and changed organically and included many incredible partners. The 225-page, hardcover book produced by the creative team at Warhol & WALL St., is meant to be much more than documentation of the emotional moments of 2020, but a teaching tool that can be used to help us continue to fight for social justice. There are many incredible images of the murals and the scenes captured by photographers, but it is also full of thought-provoking commentary by Black creatives on the work that must still be done, every day, to effect change. While the project is wrapped up, through this book the artwork and the essays stay with us to continue to drive meaningful conversations and actions. Quantities are limited but you can purchase the book for $60 at the stores (click for online list) Proceeds from the book will benefit artists of color participating in GCAC’s new mural grant program.
We also wrapped up the Columbus Makes Art Passport program. Launched in 2021, the program was intended to help get folks return to arts spaces after more than a year of pandemic lockdowns and uncertainty. We ended up offering it again this year and we feel we accomplished the goal of helping people get back into the groove of experiencing the joy of arts.
As I look to 2023, I am excited about many things. GCAC will be celebrating 50 years of supporting art in Columbus and I can’t think of a better embodiment of that commitment than to see our grants programs expanding. Though it’s been a few years since Columbus City Council passed the culture fee to get the city’s arts funding on par with peer cities, the pandemic kept us from immediately realizing the fruits of those labors. As we go into the coming year we are expecting to have record funds to distribute to both artists and arts organizations. The maximum request for most grants is increasing and once again we have new programs launching, including one to help fund the creation of murals.
A new program we are launching, after several years of planning, is the GCAC Navigator program. Seventeen artists have been tapped to act as ambassadors for GCAC. We know that there are artists and arts organizations out there who do not know about us, are overwhelmed by the idea of trying apply for a grant or perhaps think GCAC isn’t for them. GCAC Navigators will go out into the community and help their peers navigate the grants process and connect them with resources. You’ll hear more about this incredible program in January when we introduce the Navigators.
Some of the projects that we embarked on this year were pre-cursors for what comes next for the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We spent much of 2022 engaged in an intensive rebranding process, which was revealed at our Big Arts Night event on Nov. 3. You’ll see our new identity roll out over the course of 2023 touching everything from our citywide arts marketing campaign, Art Makes Columbus, to the Columbus Arts Festival.
And, in 2022, we took the first steps toward jumping into the public art space. We currently have an RFP out for a firm to help us develop a comprehensive plan. I am looking forward to diving into this work in 2023. I strongly believe that public art is critical to a healthy city and culture and I look forward to GCAC leading this process.
And, finally, keep your eyes peeled for Art Spot. As I write this, 13 public art installations are in the process of being installed in windows throughout downtown and the Short North. These installations, under the theme of Climate Conversations, will be up through June of 2023 and encourage viewers to explore climate change, crisis and the role of art in science communication.
If you are reading this then you have my gratitude, because you are part of the community that drives artist expression in our city—whether by making, supporting, engaging, or all three. You understand that art is central to human life.
Cheers to a new year and new adventures,