Tom Katzenmeyer and Karen Bell feel the arts community in central Ohio is more efficient, collaborative, and welcoming than ever—and poised to reach new heights in the coming years.
As president and CEO, and chair of the board, respectively, of the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC), the pair recognizes there’s strength in local arts organizations. Attendance is good, earned income is rising, and expenses are in control. More than anything, the arts community is creating an artful vision for the entire city.
“Right now, I think the arts community is in a renaissance of realizing our potential—and that potential is all about people and talent,” Karen said. “That’s what brings us together.”
In 2014, the GCAC Community Fund, an Organization Endowment Fund, was established to help ensure sustainability of the arts, and provide continued support of local artists, musicians, dancers, and more.
“We stand up on behalf of the organizations, the artists, and the creative class that works and lives in the city.”
For more than 40 years, GCAC has been connecting people of all ages and backgrounds with the arts. It funds artists and arts organizations, and offers programs, events, and services aimed at educating and engaging audiences. Establishing a fund to see that vision into the future was something that has been a goal of GCAC for years. It is one tenet of a 10-year plan to secure the vitality of the arts in our community.
“This is part of a larger strategic plan to have multiple, diverse revenue streams available to underpin arts and culture in Columbus,” said Tom. “We’re going to let it grow, and let people add money to it as they choose. It’s all about sustainability.”
Central Ohio area nonprofit arts and cultural organizations generate $226 million annually for the local economy, employ more than 8,500 people, and attract nearly six million people to events each year, according to the 2012 study, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences in the Greater Columbus Area.
“We are working hand in hand with all of the constituent groups and peer entities to say, ‘who do we want to be and what do we want to look like in the arts?’ Having a fund like this is going to bring that conversation to the fore,” said Karen.