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Change for Charity: Greater Columbus Arts Council

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A new year brings six new Change for Charity partners. Our January and February beneficiary is the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC).

Since 1973 – when GCAC was officially incorporated as a private nonprofit – the organization has worked to grow, support, and promote a rich arts community in Central Ohio, providing millions of dollars in grants and resources for artists and performers, and producing the annual Columbus Arts Festival.

GRANTS FOR ARTISTS DURING COVID-19

At the beginning of 2020, GCAC was poised for another year of possibilities and new funds for artists. But when the COVID-19 crisis hit and the arts and cultural community was forced to cease programming, performances, and activities, GCAC’s two major revenue streams from the hotel bed tax and the cultural admissions fee dropped to nearly zero. Artists were among the hardest hit economically and GCAC immediately launched the Emergency Relief Fund for Artists to help with basic needs like rent, food, medical bills, and other miscellaneous expenses. In just over three months, the fund raised more than $325,000 to support 438 artists.

#ArtUnitesCbus

On June 1, 2020, after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the resulting protests, GCAC and the Columbus Association for Performing Arts (CAPA) partnered to launch #ArtUnitesCbus, an initiative to employ Columbus-based visual artists to paint murals on the plywood installed over the broken windows at the Ohio Theatre and the GCAC office. A number of businesses engaged Columbus visual artists to create murals throughout the city, most notably businesses throughout the Short North and in front of the Huntington Center on High Street. By the end of June 2020, more than 200 murals had been created on plywood throughout the city.

The murals’ messages ranged from support of the Black Lives Matter movement to tributes to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to messages of love and hope. These beautiful and inspirational murals will now be part of traveling temporary installations around the city, ensuring that those messages are on display for those in the community to see. The temporary installation at Easton will be in place through the month of February. It is located on New Bond Street across from Macy’s.  

DELIVER BLACK DREAMS

The #ArtUnitesCbus temporary mural installations make up one component of public art and visual expression for a new aspirational racial equity campaign, Deliver Black Dreams.

Deliver Black Dreams is led by the Maroon Arts Group in collaboration with GCAC and the City of Columbus. It uses public art as a launch point for a sustained and future-oriented approach to achieving racial equity in Columbus. It is a campaign that is of, by, and for black people.

The first phase of the campaign is based in visual expression and will employ black artists to create public art and encourage mentorship of young people and new artists around the central narrative of “Deliver Black Dreams” in several large-scale murals to be painted around the city.

CREATING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS, PROGRAMMING, OUTREACH, AND MENTORSHIP

The #ArtUnitesCbus and Deliver Black Dreams initiatives support GCAC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statements to support an arts community that provides opportunities for thoughtful dialogue and paves the way toward equity.

“We must focus our efforts on racial equity to make meaningful progress and we must take a hard—and often uncomfortable—look at how we have operated in the past and course correct,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President and CEO of GCAC. “The Greater Columbus Arts Council has embarked upon a sustained and focused commitment to these efforts by incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for every department, across every pillar in our strategic plan.

We support individual artists in all disciplines, who are at the root of community conversation and art, and we provide support for organizations to move diversity, equity, and inclusion goals forward in their own organizational structure and programming. Every community and every sector needs diversity of voices and perspectives to thrive and every human being should be assured of equal respect, opportunity, and treatment.”

GCAC will use funds raised from Easton’s Change for Charity program to fund Deliver Black Dreams initiatives and their Thrive grants program.

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