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OP: Things have changed but Arts District isn’t dying

614now Staff



[su_testimonial photo=””]By Nate DeMars
Owner, Pursuit
Board Member, Short North Alliance[/su_testimonial]

New generation of Short North Merchants

Two years ago I moved Pursuit from campus to the Short North Arts District and opened for the first time for September Gallery Hop. After four years in business we had hit a wall and moving was a ‘bet it all’ change. I made that bet because of the people and businesses we’d be associated with as part of the Short North and the obvious growth in the district. I wanted to be a part of one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the country and it has proven a great decision.

Creative, unique, local, and independent was how I saw the district and my new neighbors, and how I hoped people would view Pursuit. The inspiring history of pioneering galleries was the foundation of that identity–Gallery Hop its signature manifestation. While there is so much happening in the district, art remains alive and critical to our identity and I see huge potential to draw new audiences to the district with art in various forms.

Recently I read your piece by a gallery owner proclaiming the death of the arts district and it bothered me on a few levels. First, it was a farewell from a longtime Short North gallery who helped build the neighborhood. Heart and soul goes into building a business, I can only imagine how painful it is to close a business. It also bothered me because I’ve seen too much creative energy put toward art in the district since my arrival to believe it’s dead/dying.

But the piece shouldn’t be ignored. It was a blunt reminder that sustaining the magic that made the Short North one of the most vibrant and unique neighborhoods in the country will take a commitment from a variety of stakeholders including, and beyond, galleries. As the neighborhood grows, the arts identity is one that merchants, restaurateurs, developers, consumers, and the city must collectively decide is important to maintain–not in name, but with action.

Short North developers aren’t all bad

I see that action from a cross-section of the district. Wood Companies, preeminent Short North developer and my landlord, chose to lease the first space I wanted instead to another district newcomer, Hammond Harkins Gallery (the right decision!). Developer Pizzuti Companies not only brought Pizzuti Collection but also an impressive art collection at The Joseph. Hilton and The Greater Columbus Convention Center have invested heavily in art. The Public Art Committee of the Short North Alliance, led by gallery owner Michelle Brandt, recently unveiled a new permanent installation by a local artist and has been working with the city on a major public art study to keep that momentum. The committee has also worked with organizations like the Greater Columbus Arts Council to adorn construction barricades with the work of CCAD students during next year’s unprecedented construction season, a powerful symbolic statement.

Most importantly, and despite what you read in Facebook comments, there are fifteen art galleries in the district. They are the most recognized stewards of our arts identity and are a community treasure. They face a different environment and new challenges, no doubt, but visit them during Gallery Hop to see what they continue to bring to the district.

A thriving arts scene with healthy galleries are in everyone’s best interest and I believe as neighbors the best thing we can do is add to the art in the district, to reinforce the atmosphere galleries create for visitors. There are plenty of businesses doing exactly that, many have for years.

Feeding the creative spirit

For that reason, in February we teamed with The Wild Path to launch our monthly In Pursuit Concert Series, featuring young Ohio musicians performing (in suits, of course) during Gallery Hop. Our window to High Street gives these artists unique exposure and the Gallery Hop crowds are eager to support. The response has been amazing with hundreds passing through the shows and tens of thousands watching event videos online. It’s exciting that the majority of our audience are millennials eager to support local artists, excited to be a part of Gallery Hop.

I recognize that I am benefitting from a neighborhood that galleries and artists were integral in building. A suit shop hosting concerts and exhibits is not a replacement for galleries but it adds to the atmosphere long established up the street by neighbors like ROY G BIV and Lindsay Gallery. The growth of the district is a testament to the vibrant community that art helped build.

I believe maintaining the identity as an arts district is central to keeping the Short North special and vibrant and it’s important for businesses to contribute to that culture.

As I write this, I’m looking up from my Village Salad at Northstar, out the window where Sandy Wood surveys construction of his company’s new mixed-use project across the street. I can’t help but think that Wood Companies leased first to galleries, then a few decades later to Northstar, and another decade later, to me.

Things change but there are so many who want to maintain the special culture of this arts district.

It will take contributions from old school to new school, Short North Alliance and city leadership, artists, galleries, merchants, residents, and consumers. I’m excited to play my small role and I think these last eight months have shown there is a new generation in Columbus ready to support this arts district. I hope more will decide to invest in the arts component of this arts district.

Check out the last concert of “In Pursuit” Season 1 on September 8th.  Pursuit will be hosting musician and illustrator Nicholas Nocera of Winter Makes Sailors and pairing a concert with his month-long gallery show.

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Biz + Dev

What can Columbus learn from Georgia’s reopening?

Wayne T. Lewis



As Columbus continues to awaken from its economic slumber, many residents have voiced concerns that the re-opening is happening too early and that we risk re-igniting the spread of the virus. Our own polling has captured this sentiment and you don't have to scroll long on social media to read your neighbor's opinion on the matter.

While businesses are busy creating safer spaces to shop and dine in, a substantial portion of their customers (many of you) will likely stay home and watch closely as others venture out into the world, masks on face and sanitizer in hand.

But the state of Georgia may offer actual insight into how our own reopening might go. Ohio mirrors many of the restrictions Georgia placed on its businesses as a prerequisite for reopening. These include social distancing within establishments, workers wearing gloves and masks, no self-service stations, to name a few. So far, the results are encouraging.

From Bloomberg:

Their Governor, Brian Kemp, lifted a state order on April 24, allowing salons, hairdressers, bowling alleys and gyms to reopen a long as they followed state regulations. Restaurants and theaters were given the go-ahead three days later.

The move was widely criticized, with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms saying she was “dumbfounded” and “extremely concerned.”

That message was echoed this week by Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, who warned before Congress that an early reopening of the economy could risk new outbreaks.

So far, this hasn’t happened in the Peach State. Kemp said this week that Georgia has seen the lowest use of ventilators and lowest hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients since it started tracking the numbers. Confirmed cases still may go up, he said, reflecting greater testing. More than 1,500 people have died, and the case total exceeds 35,000, according to the state department of public health.

“The Georgia data are encouraging,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. “Like many states, a large proportion of Georgia’s cases have been in nursing homes. Georgia has done a great job of helping secure nursing homes recently, which may account for some of the overall improvement.”

From The Telegraph (UK)

Georgia and other US states that were first to start reopening after coronavirus lockdowns have not seen an initial spike in cases, according to data now emerging. 

Trackers from The New York Times and the website Axios which take a seven-day rolling average show new cases have continued to drop despite the relaxation of rules. 

The statistics offer a glimmer of hope that lockdowns can be loosened without immediately triggering a new surge in the virus, though firm conclusions are hard to draw. 

Factors such as lags in identifying new cases, local counties not adopting statewide reopening moves and the continuing cautious behaviour of residents could play a part. 

While time will be the ultimate judge of whether Ohio's opening was premature or not, consumers, employees and business owners are cautiously stepping on the gas, but with safety always in mind.

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Biz + Dev

North Market’s reopening brings required face masks for guests and employees

Mitch Hooper



As the North Market works towards gradually reopening, things will look a little different next time you are shopping there. Starting May 2, all guests at the North Market will be required to wear a face mask or facial covering; this comes just a day after all employees being required to wear face masks or facial coverings.

The announcement cited the CDC recommendation of the public using facial masks in public settings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It also noted that face masks are still not an alternative to social distancing.

"In order to best protect our beloved community and prevent the spread of COVID-19, North Market is requiring all guests* wear a mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times while at North Market," the press release state. The asterisk states this requirement does not apply to children under the age of two as well as individuals who are unable to wear a facial covering due to a medical condition.

The North Market will be taking the recommended steps per the CDC as well as the Columbus Public Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health. This includes routine wipe-downs and cleanings of areas and maintaining a six-foot-distance from other folks.

"Together with our merchants, and the understanding and cooperation of our guests, we can protect each other. Community support is essential to the future success of our merchant businesses," said Rick Harrison Wolfe, North Market's Executive Director.

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Biz + Dev

Ologie gets creative with its annual bring-your-child-to-work day

Mitch Hooper



If hiding away from your kiddos in your bedroom for Zoom conference calls with your co-workers has become the norm, Ologie has suggested an alternative: invite them!

In past years, Ologie—a branding, marketing, and digital agency in Columbus—has hosted an annual bring-your-child-to-work day, but with its employees working from home, it is switching gears to keep the day running. Instead of meeting in the office, Ologie has set up a day for its employees to bring their children into planned Zoom calls where activities will be set up for them.

To learn more about what Camp Quarantine will look like, 614now caught up with Dawn Marinacci, executive marketing director of Ologie.

614Now: What will the virtual bring-your-child-to-work day be like?

DM: We've celebrated this day at the office for several years now and we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to keep it going just because we're all working remotely. We gathered up a small committee to help with planning. The day will be a mix of planned events for Ologists to entertain kids via Zoom, and other activities to do on their own with their families. With every day being bring your kid to work day right now, our hope is that this will provide points of connection, excitement, and relief for parents giving them fun activities to do with their kiddos.

What are some of the activities they will be involved in? 

We've tried to organize a range of things: story time with the pups (Ologists bring their dogs to work on a normal day so everyone knows each other's dogs), science experiments, a magic show, virtual talent show, make your own popcorn trail mix, making pizza faces, scavenger hunts, recreate a famous photo, coloring contest, other arts and crafts, and Mad Libs quarantine edition. There's sure to be a few last minute surprise activities thrown in, too.

How do you see this helping lift folks' spirits and make them feel more connected during shelter-in-place?

We have a really close-knit group so we're always looking for ways to stay connected to each other through this time. We couldn't fathom not taking the opportunity to get our kiddos involved to help keep us lifted and connected. Even during our weekly company meetings, we've had a surprise little guest who joins the meeting to share what they've been doing at home. Kids bring the laughter and love we all need right now. 

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