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Art Makes Columbus: Edwaard Liang Puts Local Arts on Global Stage

Walker Evans Walker Evans Art Makes Columbus: Edwaard Liang Puts Local Arts on Global Stage
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columbus-makes-artArt Makes Columbus. Columbus Makes Art. The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is launching a new five-year marketing campaign to highlight the innovation and connectedness in the local arts community. The new program will highlight both individual artists and organizations from a wide variety of visual and performing arts mediums, with a goal of increasing awareness and boosting arts patronage all across Columbus.

This week, Columbus Underground is presenting a series of interviews with local creatives to find out what being an artist means to them, what they face as challenges, and what their hopes for the future are.

Edwaard Liang is a well travelled local artist. He was born in Taiwan, grew up in Northern California, and moved to New York at age thirteen. He spent many years dancing in performances on Broadway as well as choreographing performances for other ballet companies. He’s been in Columbus for two years now working as the artistic director at BalletMet and describes the culture shock of relocating from New York as a positive experience.

“I had to learn so many different things here in Columbus… I bought a house for the first time, learned how to drive, and moved to a city where we didn’t have any friends,” he laughs. “But this is also the first time I am working as more of an administrator, so I’m not only doing choreography but also overseeing the the academy and helping with the organization’s budget. There’s a steep learning curve, but that’s why I signed on to this role.”

Liang explains that settling into Columbus and meeting new people was tough because of hectic work schedules, but he says that through the creative sector and through his neighborhood (German Village), he’s been able to create a network of close contacts.

“The amount of time I have to dedicate to my personal life is not much, but what is nice about Columbus is the high quality of life,” he says. We really enjoy cooking at home and a lot of our produce comes from our backyard garden. I don’t think we’d be able to get that in Chicago or New York.”

Columbus is not without its challenges though, especially when it comes to supporting the arts and cultural organizations. Liang says that those challenges aren’t entirely unique for large cities like Columbus where there’s always a lot of different things going on and many different options competing for the attention of audiences.

“I remember speaking abroad in Australia and noticed that Sydney and Melbourne are very similar to Columbus, being very sports-oriented,” he says. “We have to be visible to remind people there’s a huge variety of incredible art organizations and galleries here. The arts are the heart of any city’s identity, and the heart in Columbus is pumping strong.”

The Greater Columbus Arts Council has just launched a new long-term program called Columbus Makes Art / Art Makes Columbus, which is an ambitious effort to promote arts and culture across the board in the region. The program aims to increase awareness, boost attendance and keep the focus on the individual artists that make the city unique and interesting.

“This effort has been a couple of years in the making, so it really does need to be communicated to a broader audience that it takes a lot of work, determination and belief in the arts,” says Liang. “We’re very lucky to live in a city that does believe that the arts are a huge vital part of the growth and health of our city. So half the battle is already won.”

For more information, visit www.columbusmakesart.com.

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