By Jennifer Sadler

This New Year’s Eve will mark not only the promise of a fresh new start in 2012, but the launch of a year-long celebration of special events to commemorate an important milestone in our city’s history—the Columbus Bicentennial. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, Ohio’s capital began its adventure as a city with its founding on February 14, 1812. Today Columbus stands proud as the 15th largest city in the U.S. made up of a diverse population of people living in dozens of distinctive neighborhoods and districts. Columbus is recognized locally and globally as a great place to live and work with a robust and colorful history and an exciting future.

The Columbus Bicentennial celebration, dubbed 200Columbus, is a time for us to envision our full potential as a city and to take pride in the ambition, drive and creativity of the community of people and events that have built the foundation for our future. Along with the 200Columbus Committee, members of community organizations, civic groups, local businesses, representatives from public and private schools, and other interested individuals have been hard at work in planning for this momentous occasion. We have much to celebrate and plan to do so in grand style throughout 2012 offering visitors and area citizens numerous opportunities to participate in 200Columbus events hosted around the city.

Columbus is a dynamic city and has seen many changes over the past two hundred years and 200Columbus aims to highlight the best Columbus has to offer. As we prepare to enter our third century, we’re sure that as you experience 200Columbus events throughout 2012, you’ll discover many new facets and enjoy facts and stories about the long and rich history of our city along the way.

In each issue of Front Row Center, we’ll highlight special 200Columbus events and programs happening around town that you and your friends and family can enjoy.  Following are just a few events to look forward to in the coming months, including some that will kick-off the New Year and  celebrate the official date of the founding of our city in February.  Join us as we celebrate our remarkable history. We encourage you to get involved…the celebration continues with YOU!  Happy 200th, Columbus! 


Ring in the New Year with 200Columbus events featuring music, dancing, sports, theatre, dining specials and a fireworks extravaganza!

First Night Columbus Ushers in 2012: There's something for everyone at First Night Columbus with more than 40 live performances in 10 downtown venues, a children's festival and fireworks at midnight to welcome the Bicentennial year. See this month's Sneak Peek for more information.

ProMusica presents Celebrate!  A New Year's Eve Concert.  The ProMusica Orchestra will play your favorite Broadway tunes and more!  See this month's Sneak Peek for additional info.

New Year's Eve Party at Shadowbox Live!  One of the best New Year's Eve parties in town will take place at Shadowbox Live! A dinner banquet, champagne toast and two+ hours of dancing to Shadowbox Live house band BillWho? performing the "20 best rock anthems of all time" as well as live acoustic music from Dr. Simple  will provide the perfect elements to ring in, and rock in, 2012 in style.  Click here to find out how to purchase tickets.

New Year's Eve on Ice with the Blue Jackets presented by 10TV

The Blue Jackets have an all inclusive New Years Eve package for a complete night of fun and entertainment for just $30! With the Tim Hortons Jackets Pack, enjoy a bonus pre-game skate with free hot chocolate, coffee, snacks and prizes.  Then see the Blue Jackets take on the Senators with food and drink vouchers and more.  Each package includes a FREE admission button to enjoy First Night Columbus festivities afterwards to officially ring in the New Year. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.


Celebration of the Centuries

Set for Friday, February 10, 2012 at the Battelle Grand Ballroom at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, is the must-attend party of the year! Celebrate our city’s Bicentennial as we come together for a Celebration of the Centuries—an unforgettable evening of entertainment and festivities that honor the past, celebrate the present and envision the future. Be a part of this landmark event as we say Happy Birthday and recognize all that makes Columbus great.  Click here for more information and to purchase your Celebration passes today!

Jazz Moves Columbus

Three of Columbus’ best organizations – BalletMet, Jazz Arts Group and WOSU Public Media – have developed an innovative and unprecedented collaboration to celebrate Columbus’ past, present and future through the first major presentation of the 200Columbus celebration – Jazz Moves Columbus (February 2-5, February 8-12, 2012). These unique and creative multi-media performances will celebrate Columbus’ 200th birthday through music, dance and imagery with the artistic leadership of Byron Stripling (JAG) and Gerard Charles (BalletMet), working in tandem with executive producer Cindy Gaillard (WOSU).  Using video and images as a narrative, the audience takes a whirlwind journey through Columbus’ "Cradle of Jazz,” weekend parties, historic neighborhoods, and dance halls while remembering the fragility of life, the civil rights movement, joyous Sunday morning church services and a celebration of the our bright future.  To learn more visit and


Celebrate Columbus in Song

Calling Columbus musicians!! To celebrate Columbus’ rich and talented community of musicians, the Celebrate Columbus in Song contest is inviting Columbus musicians to submit original songs inspired by Columbus. Early in 2012 everyone will be able to vote electronically to select their favorite songs. Celebrate Columbus in Song is designed to support local artists as they support the Bicentennial and for everyone to celebrate and enjoy the city's amazing creative talent. All individual musicians and bands are eligible. Songs must be an original creation for this contest, less than 5 minutes and must celebrate the essence and spirit of Columbus. Read the full contest rules and submit your creation by January 31, 2012. Starting February 14, 2012 check back to listen to the contest submissions. Vote for your favorite songs by building your own 200Columbus Mixtape. The 10 songs with the most votes will be included on a 200Columbus CD available in late spring. Each band with a song selected for the CD will receive $500 and the opportunity for professional studio production of the song as well as performing opportunities at festivals and events throughout the community in 2012. The winning songs will be announced in early April. Click here to read the full contest rules and how to submit your original song.

Share Your Columbus Story

Columbus Neighborhoods.  The Columbus Neighborhoods Web site is a growing collection of photos, videos and stories about Columbus. Watch this video to learn more about how you can add to this rich archive. Columbus Neighborhoods wants you to submit your stories, photos and videos. We are looking for your personal, historical or interesting memories from the past. We also want current information to show how Columbus and its many diverse neighborhoods continue to grow and evolve. There are three kinds of content you can submit to this site: 1) Photos with captions and descriptions; 2) Video or audio clips with captions and descriptions; 3) Stories with a title and text. Stories don’t include photos, video or audio. Click here to find out more how to submit your stories and more.

Columbus Memory Project.  Last summer the Columbus Historical Society launched Columbus Memory, an online museum of Columbus history. This new digital collection is the result of a yearlong collaborative project with the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The Columbus Memory project houses historic material from both organization’s collection along with two donor collections - the Doug Davis 1913 Flood collection and the Reeb, Deibel, Ruffing Columbus Postcard and Sheet Music collection donated by Laura M. Mueller. The database also features an interactive time line of the city of Columbus, along with a Teacher Resource pages and CHS Lesson Plans. Following in the tradition of American Memory sponsored by the Library of Congress, Columbus Memory will be a resource not just for the citizens of Columbus, but the global community. Learn how to be a part of Columbus Memory by going to and selecting “How to Contribute”.

Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant Program

Your neighborhood could get up to $10,000 to show off its pride and heritage through the Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant Program. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation has invested $200,000 in an effort to get neighborhoods across seven counties involved in celebrating the 200th birthday of Columbus. The program is administered by the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC).  The grant program seeks to inspire neighborhoods to get creative and help create a community that is more inspired and proud of the increasing vitality of Columbus. Participants are encouraged to explore the role their specific neighborhood has played in the city’s 200-year history and develop cultural, educational, diverse and multigenerational activities that may include legacy projects, works of art, customized performances and other creative programs/activities. As one of the building blocks of our great city, we invite your neighborhood to join in this once-in-a-lifetime celebration of Columbus. The next and final deadline for applications is Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Interested applicants click here for grants guidelines and more.

Columbus Public Art 2012

Columbus Public Art 2012 is a temporary public art project in which works will be displayed in public spaces in a 360-acre area of downtown surrounding the statehouse and along the riverfront. Exploring the physical and philosophical measurement of time, projects will range from the familiar (sculpture and murals), to unexpected (interventions, sounds works and site-specific performances). These works, keyed into landmark dates during the Bicentennial year, will transform the downtown into an open-air gallery where innovative and surprising public art – accessible to all – will create memorable experiences for downtown workers, residents and visitors alike. Partners of Columbus Public Art 2012 include: The Ohio State University, Columbus Art Commission, Capital Crossroads SID, City of Columbus, Columbus Museum of Art and GCAC. Projects include a  light installation in time with a human breath on the east side of COSI to correspond with the city’s birthday in February, a work on the Scioto River in conjunction with the International EcoSummit and many more. Stay tuned to Front Row Center for more information about this exciting project.

Columbus Museum of Art Celebrates Columbus

CMA Celebrates Columbus. The Columbus Museum of Art is asking people to join the 200Columbus the Bicentennial celebration by creating their own photograph, painting, sculpture, poem, drawing or other creation inspired by the people or places in our community; then upload a photograph of the work to the CMA Celebrates Columbus group on Flickr. CMA’s goal is to show what a great, creative place Columbus is to live and work. Click here to go to the Flickr site.

Columbus in Focus. CMA is working with students from Marion-Franklin High School and Linden McKinley High School to photograph and document Columbus. During this National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored program, 60 Columbus City School high school students will explore the rich social history and diversity of Columbus. In tandem with the CMA Celebrates Columbus initiative, images of photos and other works by students from Columbus in Focus will be shared with the CMA Celebrates Columbus Flickr group.

Special 2012 Exhibitions. CMA will present a series of contemporary exhibitions featuring living artists. Columbus Views, running through March 31, 2012, features work by acclaimed Columbus artists such as George Bellows, Emerson Burkhart, Edmund Kuehn and Robert Chadeayne. Monet to Matisse, running through April 22, 2012, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Sirak Collection and recognizes the importance of Columbus collectors. Caravaggio: Behold the Man! running through February 5, 2012, celebrates the life and work of Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and commemorates Columbus' relationship with sister city Genoa, Italy’s museum, Musei di Strada Nuova, who is lending the famous painting Ecce Homo for the exhibition.

Expansion. Work on CMA will leave Columbus with what officials expect will be a bigger, more visitor-friendly museum that is greener, more financially sustainable and better set up to compete for popular traveling exhibits. The first phase has been completed and the second phase will be complete by the end of 2012, both of which involve significant renovations. The final phase will include renovations to a 1970s-era wing of the museum, and will include the construction of a new 45,000- to 50,000-square foot wing which will add public spaces for exhibitions, collections and programs. Click here to learn more.

Visit for information on more events and initiatives happening throughout the year-long celebration.  If you are planning an event in 2012 that is open to the public and wish to have it listed on the calendar, please login, or register your organization, at and submit your event. It is free to register your organization and once you are registered and approved you may enter as many events as you wish. Be sure to check the Bicentennial category for any event in 2012.

Harlem Gospel Choir, courtesy of CAPA.

Grand Illumination
Presented by Columbus Recreation & Parks Dept.
Through January 15

A Course in Film Acting
Presented by Route 40 Classes
Through January 24, 2012

Columbus Views
Presented by the Columbus Museum of Art
Through March 11, 2012

Mozart & Brahms
Presented by the Columbus Symphony
January 6-7, 2012

MLK Day Open House
Presented by King Arts Complex
January 16, 2012

Ten Cents a Dance
Presented by Columbus Dance Theatre
January 20, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!
Presented by ProMusica
January 21-22, 2012

Harlem Gospel Choir
Presented by CAPA
January 26, 2012