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Reflections on the 2017 Community Arts Partnership Awards

in Tom Katzenmeyer 4 min read

One week ago today we hosted our annual Community Arts Partnership Awards and it’s still on my mind.

During one luncheon I am reminded of everything I love about the Columbus arts community—the artists, the sense of family, the provocateurs and the advocates—and everything that I want for the Columbus arts community—more diverse opportunities, funding and engagement.

Each performance was a testament to the fact that the arts have the power to elevate, provoke, inspire and make us smile. The drummers of Hiuchi Taiko opened our program with energy and a feeling of power. Sara Abou Rashed’s recitation of I am America is still resonating with me. It is no wonder that she received a standing ovation from the nearly 700 people in the room.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Under the category of making me smile was Angela Pace, Nina West and Columbus Children’s Theatre. Thank you Angela: not just for your tireless contributions to the Greater Columbus Arts Council as a board member, but for the humor and grace that you bring to our event. As for Nina West and the talented young performers from Columbus Children’s Theatre, I think if we ever hosted an awards luncheon without them, we would be boycotted.

Thank you to each performer who helped create a memorable afternoon. You make Columbus a better city.

When I talk to artists in Columbus, patterns emerge. One is that within the Columbus arts scene there is a true sense of community, a sense of family. Corey Favor, who was awarded the Emerging Artist Award with his partner in Creative Control Fest Marshall Shorts, shared the remarks he prepared and he says it better than I can:

“Columbus is the place that developed me into the man I am today, and I am forever in debt to this community. CCAD is where I honed my craft as a graphic designer and met my brother Marshall Shorts. Main and Grant was the location of my first business. And OSU is where I met my beautiful wife Shayla.

Columbus is where I built friends, family, and community. I am humbled that Creative Control Fest is a part of the same community that has given so much to me.” —Corey Favor

Another pattern is honest discussion about what is still needed. Scott Woods won a Columbus Makes Art Excellence award for Holler, a series of 31 events that showcased incredible black artists in our city. Scott saw a shortfall in Columbus: a lack of spaces and opportunities for artists, and black artists in particular, to show their work. With 31 events in March in a variety of spaces small and large in neighborhoods across the city, he showed us what was possible.

“I also stand here on behalf of a community that very often goes unremarked. The goal was not to plead for awareness, but to celebrate culture—true, independent, magnificent Columbus-based culture—that had already been here. The artists involved ranged widely in age, discipline, career position, and personal politic, and it was my honor to stand in place with every one of them so that they could be their unapologetic selves on a city-wide stage.”—Scott Woods

Mark Corna, the winner of the Michael B. Coleman Arts Partner award issued a call to arms:

“We need to encourage our family and friends to attend events and make contributions.  We need to urge co-workers to get involved with boards and committees.  We need to educate attendees to locally produced arts events that the price of a ticket does not cover the cost of the production; additional support is required.  We need to seek out the newcomers to Columbus, and the owners of the many successful new startup companies and encourage them to get involved.  We need to consider our wonderful arts organizations in our estate planning to help build the endowments to where they need to be.  And we need to continue to advocate for additional public funding of the arts.”—Mark Corna

The Community Arts Partnership is in essence a giant thank you to our community. It is a way of honoring individuals and businesses who go above and beyond to support the arts in Columbus. It is also, through our Columbus Makes Art Excellence awards a way to recognize and thank those artists and organizations that take risks to develop innovative programs—the kind of programs that help Columbus earn a reputation as an arts city.

It never hurts, however, to say thank you again. So let me once more thank all of the nominees for  everything you do to support the arts in Columbus. And, thank you to all of our sponsors who helped make the event happen, to the government officials who support the work we do and understand the value of the arts for a thriving city, and to the artists—those who shared their talent during the awards and those who work every day to create, elevate, provoke and inspire.

Thank you Columbus , for supporting the work that we do. I couldn’t be happier to advocate for the arts in such a great city.

—Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

Find a list of 2017 Community Arts Partnership award winners on our website along with (where available) prepared remarks from winners. Videos of the event are on  YouTube. Photos from the event are on Facebook.