Wild Goose Creative and ROY G BIV Gallery have quite a few things in common: both are non-profit organizations, both are committed to fostering the talents of emerging artists, and soon, both will be neighbors in Franklinton. As these longstanding arts institutions settle into the neighborhood, its reputation as the city’s new arts capital further solidifies.
After closing its longtime location in the Short North in 2017, ROY’s leadership team felt Franklinton was the right spot for its next iteration. “We recognized that Franklinton was an emerging arts district, and so to be an organization that supported emerging artists, it just seemed like such a natural fit,” said J.D. Beiting, ROY’s Board President. Ultimately, the gallery became the first tenant in the new River and Rich development.
In addition to doubling its capacity, building a new gallery allowed ROY to customize the space with modular walls, built-in speakers and ceiling hooks to display three-dimensional pieces. These enhancements allow for additional media, such as film, to be included in ROY’s shows. It also provides visitors with new ways to experience the art.
“Sometimes in our receptions, we’ll play music that the artists were listening to when they were creating the art that’s being shown,” said Lynette Santoro-Au, ROY’s Gallery Director.
Beyond larger square footage, Franklinton offered something that can be hard to come by when moving to a new area: a sense of genuine community. Beiting credits the organizations that set up shop early in Franklinton—including the studios at 400 West Rich Street, the Vanderelli Room, the Idea Foundry, Glass Axis, and Jim Sweeney, the former Director of the Franklinton Development Association— for bringing an arts-focused, inclusive approach to the neighborhood’s development.
“Everyone just sort of swaps assets and resources,” Beiting said. “Being collaborative and partnering is what’s making it really attractive, which is bringing in more arts groups.”
One such arts group is Wild Goose Creative; a gallery, creative, and literary arts space operating in the University District since 2006. Wild Goose plans to open a second space in Franklinton—Wild Goose West—in late 2020. Executive Director Patrick Roehrenbeck said that the second space will allow the organization to increase its capacity.
“We felt to truly fulfill our mission, in creating this strong creative community, we needed to be able to give access to all those creatives and artists that we were having to say no to, just because there wasn’t the time or the space for it.”
At the same time, Roehrenbeck feels that the artists at Wild Goose will bring new creative offerings to Franklinton.
“If you really look at Franklinton now, 90 percent of it is visual art,” he said, explaining that there wasn’t a venue focused on literary arts, music, spoken word, and fashion.
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As they plan for the opening, Roehrenbeck and his team are engaging the community in the process. They’ve surveyed over 100 Franklinton residents to learn what would benefit them. The goal, in Roehrenbeck’s words, is to, “ask them what they want, not let them know what we’re bringing.”
With Route 315 dividing Franklinton’s arts and residential districts, Wild Goose plans to partner with existing institutions in order to meaningfully connect with the community. Lydia Simon, Wild Goose’s Operations Manager, said their goal is to be intentional with the programming that they bring to Franklinton by, “building off of what’s already happening down there.” Working with schools and community-based organizations to start an artist mentoring program is one way Wild Goose is planning to serve as a bridge between artists and residents.
“We’re all about building community through art,” Simon said. “We want to continue that mission in Franklinton because there is absolutely a need for it.”
Partnering with established organizations is also a key way to break down what Beiting called “mental barriers” to experiencing and enjoying art. “I think there might be some perception barriers. Someone might walk by, and look in, and say, ‘Oh wow, this looks like, you know, hoity art,’” he said. But learning about it from a trusted individual or at a longstanding institution can make it less intimidating.
Operating as non-profit organizations also allows both spaces to worry less about costs and more about experiences, which translates to affordability. “It gives people the opportunity to experience something new without there being that financial burden,” Roehrenbeck said. Santoro-Au echoed this idea.
“We can take chances, we can be a little more nimble, a little more inclusive.”
All of this is in line with what made Franklinton so attractive as an arts district in the rst place: artists themselves have always been at the center.
“We have artists at the table in all the planning that we do, as opposed to artists coming in at the end and not being a part of the conversation,” Santoro-Au said.
I look forward to seeing what the artists have in store for us.
ROY G BIV Gallery is located at 435 W Rich St. Wild Goose Creative is located at 2491 Summit St. Visit roygbivgallery.com or wildgoosecreative.com for more information.