The Comfest 365 spirit is most evident in the grants program. Every year the Comfest grants committee gathers to read grants submitted by community organizations. To date, Comfest has given away more than $330,000 to a variety of organizations. This year, as in every other year, several organizations applied and the committee had the job of determining which ones would be funded. All grant applications were very worthy of our support and the difficult task of coming up with the finalists was taken very seriously. The proposed recipients were forwarded to the General Planning Committee and agreed upon by the group. Thank you to all who applied and congratulations to this year’s recipients.
ROY G BIV was awarded a grant for their ROY residency program, currently in its third year, this program seeks to assist emerging artists who are often under represented. The focus is to support an artist who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color with a short-term studio and exhibit space in the Franklinton Arts District. The ROY Resident will further develop their art practice through ROY sponsored community engagement events, artist talks, and an exhibition of new work created in the program.
Throughout the pandemic the arts suffered as people struggled with work, housing, and food. While those are basic human needs and still very much an issue, we felt the need to support the arts and those that create to remind everyone of the importance of art in our lives.
NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES, INC has a program to help provide driver license vouchers. There currently are no other agencies providing this service. Neighborhood Services has partnered with the Ohio BMV, JOIN, and Stone Village to create this program. Not only is having a valid driver’s license is a gateway to employment, it also allows the individual to participate in voting. While you can vote using a state issued I.D., you cannot hold both a state I.D. and a driver license. This program will assist individuals whose license may have lapsed due to financial reasons and allow them to either renew a license or receive a first-time license.
ACCESS SHAKESPEARE Actor’s Theatre of Columbus has been bringing theatre to the citizens of Columbus since 1982 by performing outdoors at Schiller Park every summer free to the public. Access Shakespeare began in 2015 as a branch of Actors’ Theatre to bring theatre to those who cannot come to them. The goal of this program is to take the works of Shakespeare to locations outside of German Village and present them in as many different, diverse, and non-traditional venues as possible. Actors’ Theatre is committed to working with underserved communities in order to break down socio-economic barriers often associated with theater arts. To this end, Access Shakespeare will be working with nursing homes and extended care facilities to bring the Bard to all.
HEER TO SERVE is a unique program that is working with the most vulnerable in our community. Their goal is simple – provide the ability to do laundry and have social interaction. Heer Park is a former city park that has become a camp for the unsheltered. The individuals involved with Heer to Serve meet with people who are unsheltered and transport them to a laundromat. While their clothes are being washed, the volunteers go to lunch with the individuals. They spend time with them, listen to their stories, work to make a human connection with those who do not always feel connected. If possible, they work to connect individuals with organizations that might be able to assist them with their needs. The goal is to continue to build trust with residents and provide opportunities to further engage in care work, which is loosely defined as caring for the community on a micro level and providing emotional and mental support.
CENTRAL OHIO GREEN EDUCATION FUND is a branch of WGRN radio. WGRN is a community radio station that is one of the few places where there is an opportunity to promote media literacy. WGRN is also an outlet for independent musicians, syndicated/independent national progressive programs, and a way for nonprofit organizations to get their issues in front of a wider audience. The monies from the Comfest grant will towards moving their antenna so that they can continue to be a voice to promote the Key Green Values, which are based on the four core principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence. In these times of great political unrest, climate crisis, and the war on women, it is imperative to have a voice of truth available.
FRANKLINTON GARDENS DBA FRANKLINTON FARMS operates an urban farm in the middle of a food desert. The u-pick garden was developed in 2016 as a safe space that allowed access to affordable food for local residents. What began as raspberry picking by the side of the road expanded to a garden that provided fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Following a survey conducted in the neighborhood, the need for fresh food available year-round became evident. The grant from Comfest will allow Franklinton Farms to build a high tunnel that will allow access to no-cost fresh food all winter long. The high tunnel will be built using volunteer and community help, creating ownership by the people who will benefit directly from access to fresh food. The basic necessities of life are a right, and not a privilege! Thank you, Franklinton Farms for living the Comfest Way!
COLUMBUS COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS has hosted an annual Mother’s Day brunch for 23 years. This year Comfest is proud to provide a grant to assist with this tradition. The event honors women who face the challenge of being homeless on Mother’s Day and draws attention to the issue of family homelessness and affordable housing, as well as honoring the strength of these women. Over 250 women will be honored this year. The women will also receive a gift bag with health and hygiene items.
The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless has partnered with Comfest for many years and has a booth at Comfest. Stop by and see if there is any way you can help them in their work.