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Greater Columbus Arts Council Announces 2023 Recipients of Artists Elevated Awards

in Press Releases October 3, 2023 5 min read

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A national jury has selected the five recipients of the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s (GCAC) $25,000 Artists Elevated awards for 2023: Jenny Deller, Noah Dixon, Marcus Jackson, Joan Madison and Ricarrdo Valentine.

Jenny Deller (she/her) is a screenwriter and director whose award-winning debut feature, Future Weather, stars Amy Madigan, Lili Taylor, Marin Ireland and Perla Haney-Jardine. While in development, Future Weather received the Showtime Tony Cox Award for screenwriting and three grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its unique exploration of climate change. Trained as an actor in New York and San Francisco, Deller has performed in classical plays, a one-woman show, experimental theater and on Law & Order, and produced the Athens, Ohio thriller Claire in Motion. She has been selected for numerous film programs with Film Independent and The Gotham Film & Media Institute. Her projects have been supported by Tribeca Film Institute, Netflix, Women in Film, The Nantucket Screenwriters Colony and the Wexner Center.

Noah Dixon (he/him) is a screenwriter, director and co-owner of the Columbus-based production company, Loose Films. Recognized for his “assured debut” by The New York Times, Dixon’s first feature film, Poser, was selected for the 2020 Gotham Narrative Lab and had its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. Poser found theatrical distribution through Oscilloscope Laboratories and was awarded a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times in 2022. Dixon’s films and music videos have screened at festivals around the world and have been featured in Rolling StoneVarietyIndieWire and MTV’s Total Request Live. Dixon was recently a recipient of the 2023 Artist Exchange in Dresden, Germany sponsored by GCAC.

Marcus Jackson (he/him) is a poet and photographer who studied in New York University’s graduate creative writing program and as a Cave Canem fellow. His poems and photographs have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. His second book of poems, entitled Pardon My Heart, was released in 2018. Of Pardon My Heart, Jeff Gordinier for The New York Times writes, “Jackson’s collection confirms the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American poetry, one whose writing, on page after page, has the fullness and glow of a jubilee.” Jackson’s forthcoming photography monograph of street portraits is slated for publication in 2024. Jackson lives with his wife and child in Columbus, and he teaches in the MFA program at The Ohio State University.

Originally from Queens, New York, Joan Madison (she/her) has amassed more than 20 years of experience in the fashion industry. After studying fashion design at FIT and Syracuse University, Madison embarked on her professional career designing garments for Ellen Tracy, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor before relocating to Columbus to work at Express. Her custom couture gowns have graced the runways of Fashion Week Columbus, Lexus Charleston Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week. In 2006 Madison opened her own full service bridal boutique in Reynoldsburg, and in 2022, she opened her own boutique in the Common Thread on Third district in downtown Columbus.

Ricarrdo Valentine (he/him) is a second-generation Black, Jamaican American/estadounidense, same gender-loving interdisciplinary artist and certified Ohio master farmer, who finds value in collaboration and community. With Orlando Hunter-Valentine he co-founded Brother(hood) Dance!, an interdisciplinary duo that seeks to inform its audiences on socio-political and environmental injustices from a global perspective, bringing clarity to the same-gender-loving African-American experience in the 21st century. Valentine is a third-year MFA candidate in dance, integrating agriculture and technology at OSU, and a 2020 Bessies Honoree of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies for Afro/Solo/Man.

Each of the five artists will receive unrestricted awards of $25,000 each. The awards are focused on providing substantial funds to Columbus-based artists who have been working professionally for at least three years, and are intended to provide a more meaningful investment in moving an artist forward in their career. This year the awards were expanded from two to four recipients, with a fifth added in honor of Nick and Donna Akins, in acknowledgement of their contributions to the arts.

“This new round of Artists Elevated award winners joins an accomplished group of previous recipients,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president and CEO of GCAC. “It’s remarkable how they stand out for the strength of their work, especially given such a talented pool of applicants. We’re incredibly proud to have increased the awards and expanded their numbers, with Nick and Donna Akins’ help, to five Columbus artists.”

GCAC invited community and arts leaders for nominations of Columbus-based artists to apply for this year’s award. A total of 283 artists were nominated and 134 applications were received.

The five award-winners were selected from a group of 14 finalists that also included:

  • Carla Chaffin (theater)
  • Antoine Clark (music)
  • Makenzie Coyne (music)
  • Cameron Granger (visual arts)
  • Christopher Leyva (theater)
  • Tracy Powell (fashion)
  • Sarah Ramey (dance)
  • Sa’dia Rehman (visual arts)
  • Maggie Smith (literary)

In recognition of their standing, these nine finalists will each receive an award of $1,500.

Recipients were chosen by a national jury of seven creatives with representation across disciplines. They included Baba Stafford C. Berry, Jr. (dance); Chas Gillespie (literary arts); Kathryn Gremley (visual arts); Michelle Lesniak (fashion); Rehana Lew Mirza (theater); Jacques Thelemaque (film); and Michèle Vice-Maslin (music).

“Having to jury the artists, in all of their varied mediums, was an honor and a curse,” said Michelle Lesniak, one of the jurors. “Taking more than 130 talented, gifted minds and going through their emotional work was incredibly difficult. It was an emotional rollercoaster that inspired me and stripped me at the same time. That is what art does. I felt naked, joyous, scared, sad, angry, hungry, spunky, burned… but most of all inspired.”

The five awardees, along with the nine finalists, will be honored at GCAC’s Big Arts Night on Nov. 2, 2023 from 5-8 p.m. at the Southern Theatre and Westin Great Southern Columbus. Visit to reserve your free seat now!

The awards are part of GCAC’s Artists Elevated endowment campaign, designed to uplift individual artists through investment. GCAC currently has an endowment, the GCAC Community Fund, at the Columbus Foundation. GCAC’s giving site can be viewed at

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