Inside the Columbus Arts Scene
By Anietra Hamper

As the performers for Cirque du Soleil Corteo get ready for their opening night in Columbus, they know they can expect an excited crowd.

“The audience reacts in Columbus and the artists feed off of that energy. Columbus responds and makes us feel welcome. We’ve been so well received here that it is an automatic stop for us,” said Maxwell Batista, publicist for Corteo.

A warm welcome of the arts is one of the reasons Cirque du Soleil has returned to Columbus 13 times with 12 different productions since 2003.

Batista takes me behind the scenes of the massive production that rolled into town with 21 semi-trucks, more than 100 costumes and 51 artists from 17 countries.

While the artists get to enjoy some of Columbus’ arts scene in the Short North and other areas during their brief stay they are mostly prepping and training to entertain the crowd they love to return to.

The Columbus arts scene is thriving which is one of the reasons it is ranked sixth as the “Best City for Culture” by Business Insider. In addition to traveling acts like Corteo that come to town, Columbus has an established arts scene that you can enjoy anytime. Even hotels like The Hilton Columbus and The Joseph are incorporating art exhibits into their décor. Here are some of the best ways to get artsy in Columbus:

Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art is one of the artistic treasures in the capital city. With galleries that showcase paintings, glass, sculptures and photography there you can enjoy changing exhibitions and workshops. You can even try creating your own masterpiece in the JP Morgan Chase Center for Creativity where artistic materials are provided. The new wing and Creative Campus will incorporate some new works and collaborations with the Columbus College Art and Design (CCAD). Don’t forget to grab a bite at the Schokko Art Café that serves up artistic culinary dishes.

Performance Art

The performance arts in Columbus showcase national and international acts. The Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre and Southern Theatre have almost nightly shows of theater, symphony, ballet and music performances.

Wexner Center for the Arts

Situated in the heart of the Ohio State University Campus is the stunning art and exhibits of the Wexner Center for the Arts. The center has collections of artwork, theater music and dance performances throughout the year. The changing exhibits feature various artists and mediums from film to fashion.

Pizzuti Collection

The Pizzuti Collection of artwork, founded by Ron and Ann Pizzuti, is a collection of artwork on display representing sculpture, photography, paintings and more from around the globe. You can visit the collection for a specific program or just stop by to enjoy an afternoon of music on the weekend.

Short North Arts District

For the most immersive arts experience in Columbus, spend time in the Short North Arts District.  An array of galleries lines the district featuring a variety of art forms. Stop by on the first Saturday of the month to experience an evening at Gallery Hop when the galleries stay open late, live music abounds and the eateries along High Street welcome you to enjoy extended hours. Download a gallery map to scope out the stops that speak to your artistic interests.

Public Art

You will notice Columbus’ artsy side around town in the form of public art. Throughout downtown look closely at the featured sculptures and murals. You will find works of art in the parks, by the river and outside of buildings. The Columbus Arts Festival every June is a top event in the city where juried artists from around the country come to sell their works. If you want to hone your artistic skills you can take a class at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center and learn everything from painting to weaving. One of the largest public art displays is the As We Are display, a massive selfie machine, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

To learn more about the growing art scene in Columbus, the Greater Columbus Arts Council has embarked on the Columbus Makes Art campaign which has events and programs through the city.

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About the Author

For Anietra Hamper, writing is a passion. Anietra spent nearly 20 years as a top-rated television news Anchor telling thousands of stories that impact people's lives. Now, away from the spotlight, Anietra is a published travel writer. In fall 2013, Anietra was honored to be selected as a member of the prestigious Society of American Travel Writers. Anietra's zest for exploration and photography has taken her to untouched regions of Vietnam and tribal territories of the Philippines, sharing those journeys along the way through articles and blogs. Anietra is also a correspondent for Child Fund International; one of the largest non-Government Organizations in the world. Anietra graduated Cum Laude from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio and studied journalism at American University in Washington D.C. She enjoys fishing, photography, fitness and playing with her rescued dog Sunny. You can follow Anietra online at