It's taken me a few months to get settled in and get a feel for this city. Now that I have, the thing I've noticed most about Columbus Arts and Culture is that this city is/has been searching for an identity for quite some time.
I know my first impressions of Columbus were that it's a cowtown. On the surface it has lost its cowtown look and there are a lot of cool things about this city, but the cowtown mentality is alive and well here. I encounter this irrational, backwards mindset on a daily basis and it's depressing to say the least. I guess it comes with the territory of living in the bible belt.
After living in a few cool cities with very unique, well-known identities it boggles my mind that a city with so much potential [Columbus is very similar to Austin with infrastructure but nothing alike in terms of execution] can be so mediocre in terms of supporting and building its creative community.
If the leaders of this city are serious about giving this city a real identity, then they must do one simple thing. They must build a creativity and innovation mecca that supports/retains the top local creatives and attracts top talent from other cities. The only way to do this is to build some kind of resource center somewhat similar to the Northwest Film Forum or the San Francisco Film Society. This center must focus on supporting documentary filmmakers, entrepreneurs, artists, and computer coders that want to build things [businesses, websites, movies, art] that are innovative, socially conscious, and world-changing.
It really is that simple. Creative people, like the kind that move to San Fran and NYC, are the only people that can make this city unique. Not the politicians, not the bureaucrats, definitely, not the Mike Browns, Michael Colemans or Guy Worleys of this world. They only know how to imitate, not innovate.
I see that they are going to fix up the Scioto Peninsula, but unfortunately the company in charge of the redevelopment only knows how to create retail/residential wastelands that look bright and shiny and very homogenous and usually die in 5-15 years. They definitely have not shown any competence towards creating anything that gives Columbus a unique cultural identity. I would not count on them at all to understand how to create a creative mecca.
They should have never tore down city center. They could've turned that into a creative/innovative haven that attracted worldwide attention. They could've turned a symbol of failed commercialism into a symbol of creative power. Now that would've been a powerful story unique to Columbus. Art could've been at the heart of the city, but instead it's just a dead, boring park space soon to be surrounded by lame condos, which is a sad story.
Come on, Columbus needs a mecca of creativity and innovation. Why can't anyone see this?