Leaders of a rebranded Columbus Area Arts Council have unveiled a new logo, new website design and content and reiterated a new direction highlighted earlier this year.
The arts group has narrowed its focus to smaller, family-friendly events and away from financially risky big-concert and multi-act, weather-dependent outdoor gatherings.
The switch was necessary, agency leaders said, to be more responsible with donor and grant dollars and to reach a broader base of Bartholomew County’s population.
But Kathryn Armstrong, who began steering the nonprofit agency in part of its new journey as executive director 12 months ago, said it might be tough to precisely measure the success of the new mission by this time next year.
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She spoke after Tuesday afternoon’s arts council annual meeting at The Commons before board members, agency leaders and arts patrons and supporters.
“It is always tricky to quantify the arts,” Armstrong said. “However, I think we can look at what the social media response is, and see how people might be accessing things in ways that maybe they weren’t before. We can get that kind of data.”
She said the agency already noted some growth in visibility since it began boosting its Facebook posts last fall. She compared the agency’s overall changes to the transition in the classic film, “The Wizard of Oz.”
“We had to take the organization, like Dorothy in Kansas, and move through black and white to now find that we’re landing in technicolor,” Armstrong said.
To that end, she displayed a slide of the agency’s new, bright blue logo. And she highlighted a new mission statement about “integrating art and cultural experiences into community life.
As announced in March, the arts council has dropped large events such as Rock the Park and Biggest Block Party Ever. But it will retain the free Live On the Plaza, coming up June 16, and the free, monthly JCB NeighborFEST, with a new season kicking off June 1 downtown. It also just wrapped up another successful season of the free Old National Bank First Fridays for Families.
And it will collaborate with other agencies and groups for activities such as Chaotic Tuesdays, one of which followed the annual meeting, and the Henry Moore birthday bash planned for July 29 at the Bartholomew County Library Plaza.
Outgoing arts council president Sarah Cannon, completing six years on the board, called Armstrong a creative entrepreneur and lauded her for leading the agency through what Cannon called a challenging year — one that included a rained-out Aug. 6 Rock The Park concert that initially drained $30,000 from the agency’s operating budget.
“But we had amazing support from the community (the past year),” Cannon said.
New board president Scott Poling looked to the future in his first remarks in the top volunteer post.
“We’ve learned a lot from those struggles (last year),” he said. “But we’re now really focused on going forward and not looking back.”
The Columbus Area Arts Council elected new officers at Tuesday’s annual meeting. They are: Scott Poling, president; Diane Robbins, vice president; Emily Westhafer, secretary; and Roy Ice, treasurer.