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Greater Columbus Arts Council, City of Columbus and Columbus Art Commission Receive Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

in Press Releases July 12, 2011 5 min read

Columbus Public Art 2012 is among 51 grants nationwide selected to support creative placemaking

Columbus, Ohio – Today the Greater Columbus Arts Council in partnership with the City of Columbus and the City’s Columbus Art Commission announced that Columbus will receive an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), one of only 51 grants awarded nationwide out of 447 applications received. The project, Columbus Public Art 2012, will receive a $150,000 to present 10-15 public art projects throughout the downtown Columbus area during the City’s bicentennial year. NEA funds will be used primarily for artist project awards.

Our Town is the NEA’s latest investment in creative placemaking, through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city or region around arts and cultural activities.

The Columbus Public Art 2012 initiative is a unique partnership between educational and cultural institutions, the City of Columbus, and businesses in Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District dedicated to the vibrant cultural and commercial heart of Columbus. The project will involve local, national and international artists in a project that will engage community, promote tourism and economic development and help weave the arts into the fabric of downtown Columbus.

“Great cities are enriched by great art, and the residents of this great city deserve no less,” Mayor Michael B. Coleman said. “I want to thank the NEA for this tremendous grant, which will enable us to bring new beauty and vibrancy to our community.”

“This grant will help ensure the arts community in Columbus continues to thrive; improving the quality of life of our residents while providing a significant economic development boost to our economy,” said Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Finance Committee. “I want to thank my fellow Councilmembers, especially Zach Klein, chair of the Recreation and Parks Department, and Eileen Y. Paley, a fellow GCAC board member, for their continued support of public art in Columbus.”

Columbus Public Art 2012 will take place in public spaces, plazas, parks, streets and alleys in the 360 acre area of downtown surrounding the Statehouse and along the riverfront. These public projects, will be mostly temporary, and represent a broad range of contemporary art in multiple forms and media. Columbus Public Art 2012 will transform downtown Columbus into an open-air gallery, where innovative and surprising public art accessible to all will create memorable experiences for residents, downtown workers, and visitors.

Columbus Public Art 2012 is a major initiative of the 200Columbus Bicentennial celebration.

National Endowment for the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”

“Columbus Public Art 2012 provides an extraordinary opportunity for the community to engage in the conversation about public art,” said Milt Baughman, president of GCAC. “200Columbus, the city’s Bicentennial Celebration, is a perfect opportunity for us to explore these temporary installations and develop a dialogue with our citizens about what they want to see in the future landscape of downtown Columbus.”

“The seeds for this initiative were sown in summer 2009 when I led a studio for graduate students in the Department of Art at OSU,” said Malcolm Cochran, professor of sculpture and project director for Columbus Public Art 2012. “With the assistance of Cleve Ricksecker, director of the Capital Crossroads SID, 25 students were able to create works for vacant spaces in the downtown. Through serving on the Columbus Art Commission, I saw the opportunity to build on that experience by proposing a program of significant public art. In early 2010 we were awarded initial funding by an Engagement/Impact Grant of $45,000 from the OSU Office of Outreach & Engagement. The Our Town grant solidifies our efforts, and it is gratifying to receive this endorsement on a national level.”

The lead applicants on the NEA grant were the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the City of Columbus and the Columbus Art Commission. Other funders include The Ohio State UniversityCapital Crossroads Special Improvement District. Additional project support is provided through a collaboration of community partners including the Columbus Museum of ArtColumbus Bicentennial CommissionOtterbein University,Experience ColumbusTRANSIT ARTS2012 EcoSummit and downtown property owners.

In addition to Cochran, the curatorial team includes Lisa Dent, associate curator of Contemporary Art, Columbus Museum of Art; Shelly Willis, director, Public Art Program, Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Arts Commission; and Dow Kimbrell, curatorial assistant /project coordinator.

Speaking on behalf of the seven-member Columbus Art Commission, chairperson Diane Nance said, “Numerous artists have made valuable and widely appreciated contributions to Columbus buildings, plazas and parks. This project demonstrates our vision of temporary and permanent collaborations between artists, business owners, and cultural institutions along our beautifully redesigned downtown corridor as well as in neighborhoods, parks, and walkways throughout Columbus. The Bicentennial affords us the opportunity to delight in city spaces filled with public art and to imagine a vigorous public art program for the City.”

A total of $6.575 million in funding was awarded to 51 communities in 34 states in this inaugural round of the Our Town grants. The grant program is designed to support public-private partnerships that strengthen the arts while shaping the social, physical and economic characters of towns, cities and regions.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

About the Greater Columbus Arts Council: Through vision and leadership, advocacy and collaboration, the Greater Columbus Arts Council supports art and advances the culture of the region. A catalyst for excellence and innovation, GCAC funds exemplary artists and arts organizations and provides programs, events and services of public value that educate and engage all audiences in our community. GCAC thanks the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the Ohio Arts Council for their continued support.

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CONTACT: Jami Goldstein
(614) 221-8492