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Connected Communities Spotlight: Columbia Museum of Art

Guest blog by the Columbia Museum of Art, a Connected Communities grant recipient.

If you’ve passed by Boyd Plaza while strolling along Main Street this summer you may have noticed something going on. Perhaps it was the soulful sounds of jazz with Chaye Alexander that grabbed your attention. Or snippets of dialogue from a Japanese film. Maybe you encountered a group of yogis getting centered or families flexing their design muscles with big foam blocks.

From the start, the goal of the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) Connected Communities grant from the Central Carolina Community Foundation has been to ramp up activity on the newly renovated Boyd Plaza, ultimately helping to make the Main Street district a more vibrant and exciting place to play, work, and live. We hit the ground running, planning and executing a slate of programming that ranges from free family nights with performances by the Columbia Children’s Theatre to classical concerts with the South Carolina Philharmonic.

These varied programs have accomplished what we set out to do – attract audiences to Main Street who may never have visited the museum before or who might not otherwise be spending their time downtown. In welcoming people, we provide an opportunity not just for visitors to experience what the museum has to offer but to make connections with one another and, we hope, to feel a sense of belonging in our community. Our weekly Play on the Plaza program has been welcoming repeat visitors each Saturday. The families enjoying the big blue blocks have come to look forward to each new design challenge and it’s not uncommon to see a big group of children working together on a collaborative project – whether it’s a spaceship or a skyscraper.

The range of programming we’ve put together so far has enabled us to not only connect people with one another but organizations as well. Programs like Self-Care Sunday have allowed us to showcase the work of local artists and small business owners. Other community organizations like Historic Columbia, DACA United, and Girls Rock have used our Play on the Plaza Saturdays as a springboard to start conversations and get the word out about the great work they’re doing. If you know of an organization that would like to be part of an upcoming program, please reach out and let us know.

With cooler weather and an exciting exhibition coming up (Van Gogh and His Inspirations opens October 4th!) you can be sure we’ve got lots more great programming in store. We’ll see you out on the plaza!