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Why Columbus, Ohio, Is the Perfect Place For Creatives And Makers

Looking for a creative community where you can bring your dreams to life? Columbus is calling.

By Claire Hannum on November 16, 2018

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo by Randall L Schieber

Looking for a place to bring your creative endeavors to life? Look no further than Columbus, OH. The city regularly makes waves as a startup hotspot (it even launched the country’s first-ever Small Business Concierge!), but it offers especially exciting opportunities for creatives. With dozens of local galleries, studios and niche creative communities, Columbus is the place to be.

Here’s why so many creatives are living – and thriving – in Columbus.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo by Randall L Schieber

1. The arts districts provide plenty of inspiration – and opportunities.

There are museums and art venues to be found everywhere in Columbus, from downtown to the far reaches of the city, but a lot of the city’s creative energy is concentrated in two vibrant neighborhoods: the Short North Arts District and Franklinton Arts District.

Regularly cited as a shining example of urban revitalization, the Short North is the heart of Columbus’ hip creative scene. The happening neighborhood serves as a headquarters to many local makers, and it offers great restaurants, nightlife, locally owned shops and, of course, plenty of art. The Short North is home to more than 15 galleries. On the first Saturday of each month, the neighborhood hosts a Gallery Hop with evening art hours, live music and awesome food.

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Nearby, the Franklinton Arts District is channeling passion for the arts into a growing revitalization project in the neighborhood. The community hosts Urban Scrawl, an annual summer art festival full of painting, music and delicious food. The center of Franklinton’s creative pulse is Idea Foundry, an innovative maker space and incubator in a former warehouse.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo Courtesy of Columbus Arts Festival

2. Columbus is home to one of the most exciting arts festivals in the Midwest.

The annual Columbus Arts Festival draws in more than 280 artists each June. Held on the city’s Scioto River, it’s the perfect opportunity to find some artistic inspiration – and make connections with other artists – in between plenty of food and live entertainment.

3. Brilliant performers take the stage every night.

You’ll never have trouble catching live performances in Columbus. The city is home to Shadowbox Live, the largest resident theatre company in the U.S., and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra regularly takes the stage to take your breath away. If dance is more your thing, you can check out BalletMet, the city’s top notch ballet company.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo Courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory

4. There’s a scene here for every artistic discipline – even glassblowing.

Whether you’re into fiber arts, sculpting, abstract painting or any other creative pursuit under the sun, this city has something for you. One of the more unique artistic scenes in Columbus is the thriving glassblowing community. A beloved creative fixture in the city is Glass Axis, a nonprofit glass art studio with an awe-inspiring gallery and plenty of talented members. The studio also offers classes to try your hand at glassblowing.

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Columbus’ love of glass art doesn’t stop there – even the local botanical garden is in on the fun. The beautiful Franklin Park Conservatory And Botanical Garden is adorned with colorful glass art by renowned artist Dale Chihuly, and has its very own hot shop on site. Visitors can watch master glass blowers create works of art right in front of their eyes, or give it a try themselves.

5. The museums are world class.

The Columbus Museum of Art is one of the city’s most beloved institutions. This fantastic museum is home to more than 13,000 works, including pieces by Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. In 2016, a $37 million expansion gave the museum the space to bring several gorgeous pieces out of storage that were once too big to exhibit, so there’s even more to explore. Art fans will also love the Pizzuti Collection, which features rotating exhibits from the personal art collection of founders Ron and Ann Pizzuti.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo Courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory

6. There are plenty of maker spaces and art studios…

The Columbus Idea Foundry, one of the most innovative spots in the city, is a space for more makers and artists to create magic. Artists and creative entrepreneurs can attend classes and meet-ups while getting to know like-minded neighbors. Another thriving maker space, 400 West Rich, offers studios for more than 100 Columbus artists, performers, and creatives.

7. …And if you need a place for your creative business, there are plenty of co-working spaces too.

In addition to art studios, 400 West Rich also offers a more traditional co-working space for remote workers, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Columbus is also home to dozens of other great co-working spots, like The Perch, a beautifully designed space complete with spiral staircases, and The Salt Mines, which focuses on the power of shared creative energy.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo by Greg Bartram

8. Meeting other creatives is easy in Columbus.

Around every corner, there are art talks, meet-up groups, and other opportunities for networking with your fellow artists. The city’s Cultural Arts Center, a hub for local makers, hosts Columbus’ longest-running weekly art talk, in addition to specialized meet-ups for calligraphers and writers.

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If you’re looking to bond with new creative friends over a class, drop by one of the many ceramics, sip and paint, or even candle-making classes offered in town. You can even try your hand at a new discipline through adult art classes at Ohio State or the Columbus College of Art and Design.

9. The local university adds a whole new creative energy.

College towns have a special creative magic to them, and as home to Ohio State University and the Columbus College of Art, this city is no exception. Ohio State’s Wexner Arts Center is a renowned space for performing arts, video, film and exhibitions. The center hosts around 60 performances and 175 films every year.

Columbus OH
Columbus / Photo by Randall L Schieber

10. Oh, and there’s plenty of funding to be found.

The city places a premium on creative innovation, and that shows through the many grants available for local makers. The Franklinton Arts District offers arts funding through the George Bellows Grant Program, and as does the Greater Columbus Arts Council. The Wexner Prize, offered through the Wexner Center, offers a grant to contemporary artists making waves in their discipline. If you have a creative spark and a dream to go with it, the sky’s the limit.

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