In 1943, when Harrison M. Sayre and fellow civic leaders created The Columbus Foundation, they could not have known the enduring power of their philanthropic gesture or the exponential impact their act of kindness would have. At the time, what they did know for certain was that they believed in the notion of building a better society.
As we wrap up our 75th anniversary year, we honor their leap of faith, and celebrate just a few of the ways in which we came together over the past year to continue their hopeful quest.
One year ago today, The Big Explore saw more than 55,000 central Ohioans, many of whom boarded COTA buses free of charge, check out some of our city’s extraordinary cultural attractions at no cost as part of a city-wide jubilee to recognize the Foundation’s 75th birthday. This historic day of celebration also provided free admission to the Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Franklin Park Conservatory, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Ohio History Connection, the Pizzuti Collection, and Wexner Center for the Arts, as well as 75 cent ice cream cones at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. This summer, we were honored when Experience Columbus recognized The Big Explore for its contributions to community connectivity with one of its EXPY Awards.
"As we transition into our fourth generation, we honor Sayre, and other visionaries who displayed determination, grit, and, most importantly, hope. We carry that same hope forward, with the same intent—to create a stronger community for all."
Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of the Columbus Foundation
In February, The Wall Street Journal gave a rave review of “The Flood” by Opera Columbus and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, calling it “a remarkably sophisticated piece of storytelling.” In celebration of our 75th anniversary, we sponsored the opera, which made its world debut in February at the Southern Theatre. It focused on the Ohio Flood of 1913 and its lasting effects—the legacy of trauma and how it is passed down through generations. In addition to incredible reviews, the production received GCAC’s top Artistic Excellence Award last month.
On August 28, more than 700 conversations took place throughout the Columbus region as part of the Foundation’s fourth annual Big Table. Discussions centered around the Future of Columbus and pressing issues like gun violence and the opiate crisis, as well as ongoing community concerns around housing, employment, education, and more. Sixty percent of survey respondents said this was their first Big Table experience, and a special Snapshot Poll given the day of the event highlighted affordable housing and transportation and infrastructure as areas people would like to see greater emphasis of public investment in the community. Great takeaways from time well spent together.
And, earlier this month, a performance of “I Believe I Am Everything” commissioned for our 75th anniversary and written through a collaboration of We Amplify Voices, TRANSIT ARTS, and Harmony Project, was performed in front of 10,000 people during Harmony Project’s Concert for US at Nationwide Arena.
Looking forward, The Big Book, Voices Of Our Future, a special commemorative book honoring our 75th anniversary and developed by the Columbus Metropolitan Library, will be released in February. This book features illustrated stories with personal reflections of 23 teen authors representing each of Columbus Metropolitan Library’s locations. I invite you to join us to celebrate these young authors during an event at the Columbus Metropolitan Main Library on Sunday, February 2 at 2 p.m.
Finally, stay tuned for an announcement of a special grant to close out our 75th Anniversary!
As we transition into our fourth generation, we honor Sayre, and other visionaries who displayed determination, grit, and, most importantly, hope. We carry that same hope forward, with the same intent—to create a stronger community for all.
Onward, in the spirit of generosity,