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2021 Marks Leadership Changes at Franklinton Arts District, 934 Gallery

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman 2021 Marks Leadership Changes at Franklinton Arts District, 934 GalleryPhotos courtesy of 934 Gallery.
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Just over a year ago, 934 Gallery was preparing for a new decade, in which the gallery would begin the year by pursuing 501(c)(3) status, a goal since its inception.

Unbeknownst to anyone stateside at the time, a global pandemic would slow many plans and completely cancel others in 2020, including some for 934.

Well into the pandemic, the gallery had to pivot its annual festival into a virtual one, and, despite a change in their timeline, managed to continue on its path to becoming a not-for-profit organization. They spent the year meeting with a short-term advisory board and getting documents together in order to move closer to that goal.

Liz Martin, who has now been on the gallery’s leadership team for three years, recently took on the new role of 934’s board president, in tandem with an inaugural Board of Directors for the first time in the gallery’s history.

She says before now, it was easier operating under the fiscal agency of other local organizations like Wild Goose Creative, Side Hustle Syndicate, and most recently Community Shares of Mid Ohio. But now, the gallery will have a new means of achieving sustainability in the Columbus arts community.

“I’m really excited to work with our board on really developing a vision for the gallery,” she said. “Our board now is really just so passionate about making sure that 934 has a really awesome future in the arts community. And so I can’t wait to see what we’re gonna do with this team.”

Martin will lead 934 as former Executive Director Johnny Riddle moves on to the Franklinton Arts District, taking on another leadership role as its first-ever executive director.

Up until now, the Franklinton Arts District has supported arts programming in the neighborhood as a volunteer-run organization.

Riddle says the Franklinton Arts District has been looking to create a full-time position at the organization for some time, but the pandemic slowed down that search.

Recently, as that search reopened, Riddle applied, was offered the position, and made sure his former right hand was able and willing to step in to lead 934’s new board before he took the job.

“One of our mutual goals from early on was to get to 501(c)(3) status. And as much as we initiated the process, she has been the champion of making it happen,” he said. “I have to say that there is not another person that I would feel as good of handing the reins over to as Liz Martin.”

Riddle’s new position will see him run programming and arts initiatives such as Urban Scrawl and Franklinton Fridays, among other programming opportunities now possible with a full-time employee.

“What I want opportunity-wise for artists and art organizations is for them to make a living doing what they do, whether it comes from public art initiatives where there [are] opportunities to do murals, or there are art exhibitions, or outdoor markets or shows, or just ways for artists to support their career,” he said.

Martin believes the arts district will thrive under Riddle’s leadership and ability to fundraise and build relationships. Meanwhile, Martin will be responsible for helping further the mission of 934 with a team that includes marketing and PR experts, legal and organization experts, artists, and more.

“We’ve been able to build an awesome board with a huge array of expertise,” said Martin who, with Riddle and Abigail Hartung, will have two former directors alongside her on the board. “Some folks with a lot of history with the gallery and some folks who are newer to the gallery, but everyone’s super passionate about the art.”

Martin says hopefully by March, the gallery will know if their application for 501(c)(3) status has been accepted or if more needs to be done.

As a not-for-profit organization, 934 Gallery will continue to be 100% volunteer-run. And there will still be opportunities for more volunteers, Martin said.

“We’re trying to build our committees out and get a lot of diversity so that we just have a great representation and provide relevant programming for everyone,” she said, adding that she feels very lucky to be able to lead this team.

“We’re just really grateful for the support of the community and everyone that’s come on to volunteer their time,” Martin said. “I hope that I can just help further our mission.”

For more information, visit 934gallery.org.

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