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First Neighborhood Arts Connection Fellows Selected

in Press Releases July 6, 2021 2 min read

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Greater Columbus Arts Council (Arts Council) is pleased to announce that Jessica Naples Grilli and Ras Jahlani Ben-Levi will receive the first two Neighborhood Arts Connection fellowships. Grilli will receive a $5,000 grant for South Side Stories, while Ben-Levi will receive a $10,000 grant for an artist showcase at Citadel 614.

First announced in May and made possible by support from the Crane Group, the fellowship is designed to celebrate a specific neighborhood each year by inviting resident artists to create participatory arts experiences for the selected neighborhood. The neighborhoods for this year’s grant are those served by the Columbus South Side Area Commission and the Far South Columbus Area commission, which are defined on the Columbus Area Commission’s website.

“We’re very excited to make this investment in Columbus neighborhoods,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president and CEO of the Arts Council. “We believe that the arts help celebrate neighborhood identities and build communities, so we hope these fellowships will empower local artists to create experiences that bring the South Side together.”

Jessica Naples Grilli is an artist, designer and bookmaker living in Columbus. She was born in Fremont, California and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. She received a BS from Kent State University and an MFA from The Ohio State University. In addition to her own creative work, she works as an image researcher and designer at the Ohio History Connection. Her project, South Side Stories, is a participatory art experience facilitated by herself and Amanda Le Kline, designed to collect and share written stories about the south side of Columbus as told by members of the community. The stories, along with artifacts such as photographs and maps, will be curated into a newspaper that will be freely distributed online and to south side community centers, libraries and other local businesses.

Ras Jahlani Ben-Levi attended Columbus Alternative High School and the Fort Hayes Career Center before graduating with a BA in music technology from Capital University. He was a co-founding intern and program leader at Capital University’s Bonner Leadership Program, and currently works as an audio supervisor for Spectrum News. Ben-Levi’s project is a September showcase of 16 artists at Citadel 614, an arts space on the South Side. Citadel 614 will feature indoor and outdoor performances, music videos on an outdoor screen and a presentation introducing the organization’s production label, Sour Boys.

A committee consisting of neighborhood residents, community leaders and an Arts Council Board representative selected the two fellows out of 10 applications. The neighborhood projects will be completed between July and December of 2021.

Mission of the Greater Columbus Arts Council: To support and advance the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council receives major financial support from the City of Columbus, Franklin County Commissioners and the Ohio Arts Council.

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CONTACT: Jami Goldstein
(614) 221-8492