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I’m ready to be a tourist again with the arts in Cbus

in Tom Katzenmeyer 3 min read

Today we launched the Columbus Makes Art Passport, a program designed to help Columbusites rediscover the treasures in their own back yard.

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

The program is simple. Pick up a free passport—an actual physical booklet (you can find pick up locations online). There are 66 arts stops listed and you have until Oct. 31 to visit as many as you choose. At each stop you get your passport stamped with a sticker that is designed by a Columbus-based artist (one sticker per passport, per stop). Starting Sept. 28 you can redeem your stickered passport online for prizes.

This whole idea was born late last winter. Vaccinations were starting to roll out and we were hopeful that things would start to reopen, but we were also cautious. Conversations with each other and our friends revealed that after more than a year staying home there was a hesitancy to step out, and a sense that our own city felt unfamiliar. We needed to find a way to reunite the city’s people with the city’s cultural destinations. We wanted to help but how?

We began brainstorming on how to create some sort of event that would help our arts organizations and the community at-large while not being a burden on anyone’s resources. We also needed something that would be adaptable to an ever-changing COVID situation.

And thus the passport idea was born. We created something that would build off of events that were already in the works and therefore would require no extra work from our partners. We spread the program out over two months so that people would have plenty of time to tour stops without creating a crush of visitors. We made sure that there was a combination of free and ticketed events of various sizes and disciplines to appeal to as many people as possible.

From there the plan evolved. We decided to do stickers instead of actual stamps and then pay artists to design them so that getting the stickers in themselves would be fun. We added prizes as a further incentive for people to join us on this journey.

Arts venues had to commit to two things to participate: one, have an event that was open to the general public between Sept.1 and Oct. 31; two, have the staff resources to stamp (aka sticker) the passports of guests. The Greater Columbus Arts Council is covering the cost and human resources to produce the passport, stickers, collect and distribute prizes, and market the program. I am humbled to note that so many of our participants have also offered special deals to passport holders (even organizations that do not charge admission!) In addition, several local restaurants and businesses have offered special deals to passport holders. And, many of our arts organizations, restaurants and businesses have committed to donating prizes. I love how this community bands together.

Prizes are still being delivered and placed online, but examples of what has been offered include (but are not limited to) Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art swag, Columbus Arts Festival merchandise, artist-signed prints, original artwork, gift certificates to local businesses and restaurants, tickets and season subscriptions to future arts events, a private movie screening at the Gateway Film Center, a night at the Hotel Leveque, and a signed copy of Wil Haygood’s newest book Colorization: 100 Years of Black Films in a White World.

I hope you will join us on this journey. Grab a free passport and peruse the 66 stops. Figure out what works best for your schedule and COVID comfort level (be sure to check the websites of any and all venues for updated COVID protocols).

We may not be back to “normal,” but we can still safely get out and be tourists in our own city—making the arts our destination.

Get more details on the program including participants, passport pick up stops and prizes at We will keep updating the website as we deliver more passports and collect more prizes.


— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.