City renames arts center in honor of former council member Priscilla Tyson

Columbus has renamed its downtown Cultural Arts Center, former longtime city council member, art advocate and local gallery owner Priscilla Tyson to a Friday event across the street at Bicentennial Park.

“The arts, the building, are near and dear to me,” Tyson told the rally, reminding current board members present at the ceremony – with a laugh – that “we will definitely come to you for funding. ..because once your name is on a building, you want to make sure you have resources.

“So there are additional benefits to having my name on this building, because we’re going to make sure it’s representative of who we are. … Thanks in advance.”

The Columbus Cultural Arts Center, located downtown at West Main and 2nd streets, was renamed in honor of Priscilla Tyson, former city council member, local art gallery owner and arts advocate .  Tyson is shown here in a file photo from her time on city council, where she was the longest-serving female member before deciding in January to step down.

Tyson was the oldest woman on the city councilserving just under 15 full years when she left in January after deciding not to run for another four-year term.

The facility, located downtown at 139 W. Main St. at 2nd Street across from Bicentennial Park, has been the cultural arts center of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for more than four decades. The arts center is housed in a historic former Civil War armory, built as a brick fortress in 1861, and opened under a long-term state lease in 1978 as a workshop for artists local.

Today, the structure includes a ceramics studio, painting and weaving labs, two galleries, and offers classes and community arts programs.

“It pays tribute to my family and the people who loved and supported me,” Tyson said. “The only reason my name could be on any building is because my family, who loved me, taught me what to do.”

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said in a written statement that the decision recognizes Tyson’s commitment to advancing the arts and quality of life in Columbus.

“His efforts have helped connect countless residents to the visual and performing arts – a central part of any vibrant and inclusive community,” he said. “We all owe her a debt of gratitude for all she has done to enrich our common cultural fabric.”

Tyson’s contributions to the arts include:

  • Support local artists by exhibiting their works in its gallery, Star Arts Gallery.
  • Member of the Greater Columbus Arts Council for over 14 years, the longest tenure of any member.
  • Advocacy for the arts during his tenure on Columbus City Council, including funding public art and establishing the first funding for the Columbus Arts Commission.
  • Help revise the funding formula for the arts through his service on the Creative Columbus Policy Steering Committee in 2009 during the city’s budget crisis.
  • Funding for arts organizations and events, including the Columbus Performing Arts Association (CAPA), the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
  • Advocacy for Urban Strings, which was founded in 2007 to recruit and support underserved minority youth who play string instruments.

Tyson said she hopes young people of the future will come downtown and see a building named after a “seasoned black girl,” who was “born in this community of humble beginnings,” who attended the Columbus City schools, graduated from local colleges. and served his community in a meaningful way.

“I hope this will be an inspiration to all girls – all girls – but especially black girls,” said Tyson, who while on the board pushed the city to create the commission on black girlsand funding it as an ongoing concern, exploring policies to eliminate inequalities that can present significant challenges in the lives of black girls.

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James C. Tibbs