The Columbus Invitational Arts Competition

CCoMo Dance by Janet George

I’m a believer in philosophy in action.  My main project in recent years is the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.  Since this annual event is reaching it’s culmination next week, I thought I’d take the time to explain some of the goals behind it.


    The mission of the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition is to support and promote organizations that combine artistic excellence with exceptional community commitment.

  • GOAL:

    The overall goal of the Invitational is to use competition in the arts as a means to stimulate widespread social and economic change.


    The Invitational strives to meet the following objectives, first within the Columbus community, and then in the widening circle of other communities involved with the competition:

    • Make the arts more important and central in public life.
    • Increase the size and the critical apprehension of the audience for the arts.
    • Increase the quality and the quantity of artistic production.
    • Channel attention and resources towards participating groups.
    • Increase mutual awareness and stimulate collaboration between participating groups.
    • Support distinctive localized urban communities.
    • Shift cultural values towards valuing those who do the most for their community (in preference to those who do best for themselves).
    • Demonstrate the positive value of diversity.
    • Create peaceful alternatives to armed conflict for solving cultural and political disputes between different communities and nations.
    • Establish conditions for equitable meritocracy, where everyone can reach the level he or she deserves based on merit, regardless of circumstances of birth.
    • Increase avenues towards gainful employment in the arts.
    • Serve as an economic engine building jobs and tourism.

    A group of arts organizations, selected against criteria of geography, artistic reputation and community involvement, are invited to compete against each other, in a public exhibition or showcase, to be judged by a panel that includes one juror to represent each participating organization. The winners move on to the next higher level of competition, if applicable.

    The overall plan calls for the competition to be conducted at a local level the first, second, fourth and seventh years, at a regional level (between different states in a single region) the third, fifth and eighth years, at a national level the sixth and ninth years, and at an international level the tenth year, to be followed after that by a four year rotation through all four levels.

    The Invitational was conducted locally with Columbus-based groups in 2012 and 2013, and is currently in its first regional iteration, with groups competing from Indianapolis (Indiana), Charleston (West Virginia), Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Lexington (Kentucky), and Detroit and Ann Arbor (Michigan) against the 2013 Columbus (Ohio) winners.

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