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Columbus Mayor Coleman Launches Arts Classifieds

By Columbus (OH) Mayor Michael B. Coleman
September 13, 2004

The city of Columbus is committed to weaving the arts into the fabric of our community, from public displays to new parks, and from arts education to the partnerships that keep our wonderful symphony, ballet and theaters busy all throughout the year. The arts are a critical element to increasing a community's quality of life and in celebrating the spirit of a city. As mayor, I am proud to build local partnerships with many groups, including our Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC), to move forward on initiatives that we believe can serve as national models for other cities. Two initiatives recently launched with GCAC are practical examples of leaders responding to a community's ideas and needs.

Two and a half years ago GCAC commissioned a research project to inventory the entire universe of Central Ohio arts education providers — arts organizations and non-arts organizations of all sizes. Funded in part by the Ohio Arts Council and the Lila Wallace'reader's Digest Fund, the research provided county-wide data to compare to the state-wide Ohio Arts Council's 2000 State of the Arts Report. With more than two-thirds of the county's population of 1.1 million residing within the city of Columbus, it is important to understand the working of our hundreds of non-profit arts organizations. By bringing to the table community partners from more than 100 regional businesses; civic, cultural, educational and faith-based institutions, we were able to build a new understanding of the presence the arts hold throughout the region. Following the research, GCAC built an interactive online directory called ARTS CLASSifieds, promoting the data and allowing residents to quickly find out about arts education activities and classes offered in our county to residents of all ages. By accessing this searchable directory, families can connect with 363 community arts providers in Franklin County.

Since the launch of this project, leaders of county government, city government, school districts, FirstLink, the metro library system and human service organizations have moved quickly to link the ARTS CLASSifieds directory to their web sites. Human service providers are exploring joint training opportunities to better equip their personnel in arts education program delivery. And the National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded a grant to the Greater Columbus Arts Council to translate ARTS CLASSifieds into Spanish and Somali.

You can browse this directory by visiting or and then clicking on the ARTS CLASSifieds icon. This sample of Franklin County zip codes will enable you to see how the site works: 43215, 43202, 43232, 43017, 43085.

The second initiative is called Franklin County Neighborhood Arts. This grants program is helping a variety of neighborhood and community groups (including, but not limited to: amateur and vocational groups, traditional arts organizations, civic and neighborhood associations, guilds, social service, youth-centered, and cultural organizations) to launch new arts projects as long as they are accessible to the general public. Seed money for this program was provided by the Ohio Arts Council, the Lila Wallace'reader's Digest Fund, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Requests are reviewed by GCAC's Community Arts Education Program advisory committee three times per year with notifications of grant awards going out within six weeks of each cycle's application deadline. Funds are issued to organizations only, not to individuals. Award amounts range from $200 to $2,000 and organizations currently receiving funding through GCAC's city of Columbus Grants Program are ineligible for consideration.

To date the Franklin County Neighborhood Arts grants program has awarded 37 grants, totaling $40,100, for projects in 12 different municipalities and opening new doors to as many as 142,155 residents. Grants went to many groups, including: Civic Associations, Community Arts, Dance, Film & Video, Government, Human Services, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, Traditional/Ethnic, and Visual Arts. The early results from this program are stories of creative, constructive use of modest resources to achieve great things at the local, neighborhood level.

The arts council has also just begun an important series of workshops, open to the public, to help community organizations improve their grant-writing abilities. A total of 47 organizations have already participated in these workshops.

These new programs leverage modest, strategic investments to enhance the creative potential and quality of life of residents of the entire region. We believe these kinds of investments contribute significantly to the quality of life for all residents and will have positive and long-lasting effects.

If you would like more information about ARTS CLASSifieds and/or the Franklin County Neighborhood Arts program, please contact the Greater Columbus Arts Council at 614-224-2606 or at

The Greater Columbus Arts Council will be making special presentations on both programs this fall at the Grantsmakers in the Arts national conference (October 17-20, 2004) in Cleveland.