You still have time to get your act together — for the 2016 Columbus Got Talent competition.

That’s the multi-cultural arts gathering that attracted more than 40 musicians, singers, dancers and even something of a young yoga contortionist for a finale audience of more than 500 people last year.

In fact, the extended registration deadline approaches July 30. And organizers want to build on the 20 performances already slated for auditions Aug. 6 at Southside Elementary School.

Rajesh Garg, one of the organizers of the event for the Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization, loves the idea that the inaugural effort in August 2015 included everyone ranging from dancers from India to singers from Venezuela. Plus, the winning group capturing the $1,000 top prize was the Tiptonians, pop-rockers representing several different countries.

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The winning act gets to perform at Ethnic Expo, the city’s free, international festival held in October.

“When we did this show (last year), you could see the depth of culture,” Garg said.

Before that initial show, organizers forecasted an eye-opening experience for those aiming to build bridges among varied cultures locally. In fact, therein lies much the aim of CAMEO, which also helps its members feel more at home in Bartholomew County. That’s especially important since CAMEO itself grew out of the study from the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

The local Welcoming Community survey showed that people moving here from other nations sometimes struggled to feel welcome in the Midwestern culture.

The Heritage Fund helped launch Columbus Got Talent with a $10,000 grant last year. Organizers spent only half that, in order to save the other half for this year, according to Garg.

To help bring back some of last year’s performers with new acts, leaders recently have offered to cut their registration fee — $30 for groups and $20 for individuals — in half.

“We just had a few of them sign up,” Panda said.

Plus, show volunteers such as Garg and Rajib Panda recently have promoted the event on local radio, on social media and via posters all over town.

One other tweak includes dividing the competition among various age groups instead of including everyone in the same category.

“Since the first time, we certainly realize that there always things to improve upon,” Garg said. “We had a lot of students last year who did very well (judges felt). So we wanted to find a way to be very encouraging to them.”

Garg mentioned that the mix of cultures at both the audition and the finale featuring 18 acts “definitely helps make Columbus a better and a more welcoming place.”

But his sights are set on a larger event this year — and in years to come, including as many as 100 acts in auditions. He pictures a full house of ticket buyers at some point, which would be more than 700 at the Columbus East High School Auditorium next month or nearly 1,100 at Columbus North in coming years.

And amid all that entertainment, education steps into the spotlight.

“Some people might never experience other cultures otherwise,” Garg said.

Registration details

When: Through July 30.

At:, then click on 2016 cgt application.

Cost: $20 for individual acts; $30 for groups.

Age groups: 10 and younger, 11 to 14 years old, 15 – 18 years old, and older.

Audition: Aug. 6 at Southside Elementary School, 1320 W. County Road 200S, Columbus.

Finale: Aug. 27 at Columbus East High School auditorium.

Time: Each act’s presentation should be shorter than 5 minutes.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.