Erika Tay Lane and Quianna Simpson receive grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council

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The Greater Columbus Arts Council on Tuesday awarded its first Artists Elevated grants to two creators living and working in the central Ohio community.

Erika Tay Lane, director and writer specializing in the creation of short plays, and Quianna Simpson, dancer and choreographer with 30 years of experience in the study of traditional West African music and culture, each have received $ 20,000 in grants to use for their crafts as first-time recipients. of the Artists Elevated Awards.

“They are two superstars,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President and CEO of the Arts Council. “A paid national jury reviewed 150 nominations and the jury was very impressed with the talent coming from Columbus.”

Katzenmeyer said the arts council created this annual grant opportunity to “support and invest directly in artists in the community.”

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They have established an endowment to the Columbus Foundation for long-term commitment to the efforts of this program, he continued. As the endowment grows, he continued, the arts organization would like to offer more prizes at an increased amount.

The endowment received a boost earlier this week when the AEP Foundation announced it would donate $ 1 million to the fund over the next four years. Bath & Body Works had previously contributed $ 20,000 to fund one of this year’s grants, among other donors already participating, Katzenmeyer said.

“The impact of the AEP Foundation donation – it cannot be underestimated,” he said. “This has an impact on the artists of the city and on our ability to continue to enrich the endowment.”

Tom Katzenmeyer, President and CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Nick Akins, President and CEO of AEP, said the company is more than happy to offer its support to artists in the community.

“We are committed to recognizing the contributions of artists to our community and to strengthening the retention and attraction of the creative talent that makes Columbus a great place for businesses and our workers,” Akins said in a statement.

Artists from seven disciplines, including visual arts, fashion, film, theater, literature, dance and music, were nominated by members of the community.

Lane and Simpson will receive the funds to be used as they wish to further their artistic careers.

Erika Tay Lane

Lane, who has worked extensively with MadLab and OG Productions, said in a statement that she plans to use the money to create a festival featuring local theater artists and musicians, in addition to a production of his integral play based on Plato. Dialogues.

Simpson, deputy director of the Thiossane Institute, hopes to use the grant to further his studies in West African dance and related performances, both at home and abroad.

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While the arts council’s overall mission is to support the arts in Columbus, Katzenmeyer said it became clear during the pandemic and after the social justice turmoil of the summer of 2020, just how important artists are. for the community and what it means to support them directly.

For example, artists have created beautiful murals around the city center on panels used to cover broken windows in June during protests.

“Individual artists are at the heart of the creative economy – they fuel this economy,” Katzenmeyer said. “They help us cultivate a more balanced society. Throughout the time in the history of the pandemic and social unrest, the artists here have truly stepped up and influenced our lives. It is time to recognize them and their contributions to society. community.”

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