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The Columbus Arts Festival is a Celebration of Community

in Tom Katzenmeyer 3 min read

Earlier this year my team and I went to the new riverfront for a walkabout. We went to explore the new site and talk about how we could best utilize this beautiful new park during the 55th Columbus Arts Festival.

We decided to move the Columbus Makes Art Activity Village, with its popular hands-on activities area, closer to the river allowing for a roomier more relaxed space with seating. We tapped a spot that had been unusable last year, due to construction, as a location for aerial and movement artists, and we scheduled street musicians for Coleman’s Pointe. In general the new landscape finally provides bike access directly to the Festival site as well as more room for people to walk about, more greenspace, and more places to sit and relax in between visiting the 300-plus exhibiting artists and enjoying entertainment on our seven stages.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Discussions on how to build on the Festival experience are not new at the Greater Columbus Arts Council. They happen every year. They have led to things like new stages and opportunities to showcase even more artistic disciplines. And, our meetings often result in partnerships.

I love that word, partnership. And it’s something that Columbus does well.

This year we have so many collaborations in the works.

For starters, we are joining forces with Shadowbox Live to present Gallery of Echoes—The ColumbUS Public Art Project, an innovative meta-performance involving music, dance, theater and large-scale media projections of artwork from 20 Columbus artists. The show will be presented on the ABC6 Main Stage Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11 at 9 p.m.

Also on the ABC6 Main Stage, on Friday night, you can see ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Columbus Jazz Orchestra pairing up.

To ensure the art of film is represented, the Festival, COSI and the Film Festival of Columbus (FFOCOL) have teamed up to present FFOCOL’s closing night, a screening of My Blind Brother, at COSI.  COSI will also be showing shorts and animation throughout the Festival weekend in their giant-screen theater.

COSI has always been a great partner to the Festival, and this year they are adding to our interactive offerings. Artist Daniel McCauley will be assembling his large one-of-a-kind metal dinosaur T-REX Delilah—I’m looking forward to checking it out.

A new collaboration for us, GROOVE U Music Career Program will host an emerging talent stage on Washington Blvd. near COSI that will highlight upcoming artists ages 14-26. The stage will provide GROOVE U students with experience in multiple areas of the music industry, including booking, stage management and live sound engineering.

And a returning collaboration, is the always popular Big Local Arts Tent. Every time I visit I am proud to see so many of our local arts groups representing  Columbus and showing our thousands of visitors their expertise and craft—this year I am especially excited to see blacksmith Adlai Stein do demonstrations.

Speaking of “thousands of visitors,” the Arts Festival brings more than 400,000 people to the downtown riverfront in a short three-day period, and every year we work to make the Festival as environmentally friendly as possible.

This year we are working with SWACO, which is providing support for a recycling management supervisor, Clear Stream Recycling Containers for better recycling collection and hauling services each day. We are also teaming up with Pelotonia to provide secure bike parking, which we hope will encourage more people to bike to the Fest.

This brings me back to the riverfront and another new, fun partnership: The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has coordinated their June Riverfest event, a celebration of the region’s water resources, to take place in conjunction with the Arts Festival, which will include the inaugural MORPC Columbus Arts Festival Boat Float—everyone with self-powered watercraft is encouraged to transform their boat into a work of art and join the fun.

We couldn’t produce the Columbus Arts Festival without the city’s support. This year we will celebrate our 55th year with an opening ceremony with Mayor Andrew Ginther, followed by a processional of musicians, dancers, drummers and Columbus’s own Artists Wrestling League.

We are a tight knit community and I love that about ColumbUS.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.