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Ohio State to Invest $200M to Create Arts District

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ohio State University wants to invest as much as $200 million over the next decade to create an arts district with a goal of helping make Columbus a world-class arts destination.

The university envisions tying together its arts, dance, music and performing arts buildings and eventually connecting them to the art galleries, museums and other artistic spaces in downtown Columbus and a trendy district in between known as the Short North.

The goal is to bring together artists, dancers and musicians from Ohio State and the community, College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Manderscheid told The Columbus Dispatch.

“We live in a wonderful city, and it makes sense for us to take advantage of the cultural gems that surround us and to expand the partnerships we already have with the various arts organizations,” Manderscheid said.

Plans call for Sullivant Hall, Wexner Center for the Arts and Mershon Auditorium—all on High Street—to serve as the entrance to the district.

Sullivant Hall, which got a $33 million makeover that took more than two years, is now home to world’s largest museum of comics art, as well was OSU’s dance- and art-education departments.

William B. Conner, managing director and CEO of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, lauded the plans.

“Our relationship with the university is very important to us,” he said. “And Ohio State’s vision of creating an arts district on campus that connects the university to downtown will create a really dynamic environment for all of us.”

Instead of trying to come up with $200 million for the district all at once, the university is paying for each project one at a time. OSU has set aside $50 million for the new arts district from the $483 million up-front payment the school received for leasing its parking operation to a private investor.

The master plan also suggests that the university consider building a performing-arts complex along High Street that might include a black-box theater and a theater that could accommodate opera.

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