Volunteers are the power behind the Columbus Arts Festival. Literally. And the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) couldn’t do the Festival without them. More than 200 volunteers working nearly 300 shifts are the people who make the Columbus Arts Festival happen. They are the breath and life of the Festival. Sure, we have two staff members that work year round to deal with the paperwork and the artist jury and the food vendors, etc., etc. And they are great, and dedicated and work really hard. But we absolutely COULD NOT do this festival without our volunteers. Some of them work year round to make this event happen – yes, with no pay – only for the enjoyment of pulling off a well-executed event.
We want to thank each and every one of them for their dedication, their hard work and patience with everyone – especially with those of us who are new to this gig!
Some of our volunteers have been with the Festival for more than 15 years. They are seasoned veterans who know the answers to questions in an instant and pretty much now how to get anything done or fix anything – including changing a tire on a golf cart. Who changes a tire on a golf cart????!!
Renea Houshour, Operations Committee member for the Columbus Arts Festival is a school nurse at South High School. That’s her day job. But for 4 days out of every year she is the Columbus Arts Festival’s very own “McGuyver.”
Hushour served as a medic during the Vietnam War before transferring to the Military Band and then to the Reserves where she served as a patient administration officer.
Her role during the Festival is Operations – Planning. And she is very good at it. Ops measures and make sure everything fits right and runs smoothly. It’s that last part that’s the toughie. And safety is also a big concern. With nearly half a million people expected over the course of three days it’s essential that all Festival attendees have their needs attended to and enjoy their experience in a fun and safe environment.
“Waterlines have to be laid, electricity hooked up” says Houshour. “Moving-in day really is critical. We need all hands on deck and a lot of hours are spent beforehand trying to choreograph when things come in: when tents are set-up and participants can come in, where the dumpsters go, the Porta-Johns – we’re basically building a city in a day”
When asked how she got her nickname “McGuyver” she humbly replies “It’s a very generous label! I think it started when I changed a tire on one of the golf carts. I don’t know, but I’ve never honestly lived up to the name.”
She adds “I like the combination of working with the artists and the technical side. I think it’s a wonderful event for the city. I love it! I’m proud of the Festival, I’m proud of the city for supporting this event. When so many things look pretty dismal in the world, it’s good to have art.”
The Columbus Arts Festival presented by Time Warner Cable takes place June 4, 5 and 6 and runs on Friday & Saturday from 11:30 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 11:30 am to 6 pm. For more information, please visit www.ColumbusArtsFestival.org.
GCAC presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at the arts in Columbus.