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Greater Columbus Arts Council Announces 2023 Community Arts Partnership Awards Nominees and Winners

in Press Releases September 25, 2023 4 min read

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) today announced the recipients and finalists of the 2023 Community Arts Partnership Awards. The award recipients are being recognized for their exemplary support of the arts; in addition, two community projects will receive awards recognizing achievements in innovation and community caring.

All winners and nominees will be honored at the free Big Arts Night celebration on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 5-8 p.m. at the Southern Theatre and Westin Great Southern Hotel. The Columbus Makes Art Excellence winners also will be announced, and GCAC’s Artists Elevated and Ray Hanley Award recipients will be celebrated at the event. The event is free but seat reservations are required. To reserve seats go to

“As we’ve come to expect, our board had their work cut out for them in selecting the award recipients from this year’s exceptional nominees,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president and CEO of GCAC. “Every individual and organization nominated has helped enliven the cultural fabric of Columbus, from bringing the arts to school children to supporting new public art, improving the lives of incarcerated men and women, to highlighting important aspects of our city’s history. These awards are just one way we can recognize their exemplary work.”

The award winners are:

Jim Arter, recipient of the Arts Educator Award, has been a dedicated advocate for the welfare and creative well-being of all children for more than 25 years. He is the co-founder of the AmeriCorps Children of the Future program, which used the arts to build positive communication and conflict resolution skills for more than a decade and received multiple national awards. Additionally, Arter served as a long-time artist educator for GCAC’s Artist-in-Schools program. Although retired, he continues to mentor young people and artists in central Ohio. The Arts Educator Award is presented each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to providing arts education opportunities to students in K-12 within a school system or in after-school programs or activities.

Jeff Edwards, recipient of the Michael B. Coleman Arts Partner Award, currently serves as the chairman, CEO and president of Installed Building Products and president of the Edwards Companies. He and the Edwards family most recently spearheaded and provided the entire funding for the creation, and installation of Current by Janet Echelman, Columbus’ newest major public art piece at Gay and High streets downtown. Current was then gifted by the family to the Columbus Museum of Art, where funds were committed for the on-going care of the piece. The Michael B. Coleman Arts Partner Award is presented each year to a civic, community or business leader who is a role model for long-term and exemplary support of the central Ohio arts and cultural community because of their significant contributions of time, effort and/or financial resources.

In addition, the Arts Council awarded two Dale E. Heydlauff Community Arts Innovation Awards. The awards, named after Heydlauff in 2020 in honor of his contributions to the arts, each come with a prize of $5,000. Heydlauff provided matching funds to make these awards possible. They are presented to innovative projects or initiatives that have used the arts to address larger community issues of diversity, inclusion, equity or social justice.

The two winners of the Dale E. Heydlauff Community Arts Innovation Awards are:

Harmony Project’s Prison Arts Program, nominated by Eileen Paley, provides weekly programming that encourages incarcerated women and men to use their talents and voices to create positive change in their lives and the lives of others. Through the program, participants begin to trust their own voices, gain self-confidence and better coping skills, and foster connections that provide social support. The Prison Arts Program is an innovative way to break down tremendous social and geographic barriers. It has reached more than 300 people across three Ohio institutions, helping them build community and connect with the world outside prison.

Franklin the People’s Park at Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, nominated by Barbara Brandt, is an exhibition of work by photographer Steve Harrison. The exhibition is his first ever, and documents four decades of history at Franklin Park. Ranging from everyday moments to historical events, Harrison’s photos start in the 1960s and capture Franklin Park’s importance as a gathering place for the Black community of Columbus inviting community members to reminisce and reflect on the significant role the park and green spaces can have to bring people together.

On Nov. 2, GCAC will announce the winners of the Columbus Makes Art Excellence Awards recognizing outstanding achievements in innovation, risk and artistic excellence in a performance, exhibition, program or project. One $10,000 award will be given in each category of organizations with budgets of under $1 million and those with budgets of $1 million and over.

The 2023 finalists are:

Organizations with budgets of under $1 million

  • Columbus Cultural Orchestra, The Black History Month Classical Crossover Pop-Up Tour
  • Converging Arts Columbus, The Journey: Civil Rights
  • Opera Project Columbus, I, Too, Sing America Parts 2 and 3

Organizations with budgets of $1 million and over

  • Lincoln Theatre, Backstage 10thAnniversary Showcase
  • National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Identity: Exploring Veteran Narratives through Art + Music
  • Short North Stage, Slave Play

GCAC’s annual Community Arts Partnership Awards honor the Columbus community for its active support of central Ohio’s artists and arts organizations. Nearly 30 organizations and individuals were nominated this year.

To see a complete list of nominees, visit the Community Arts Partnership Awards page here:

The 2023 Big Arts Night event is supported in part by Crane Group, PNC Bank, Nationwide and Dale E. Heydlauff.

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, the Ohio Arts Council and The Ohio State University.

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CONTACT: Jami Goldstein
(614) 221-8492