What is it?
Holler is a 30-day event highlighting Columbus, Ohio-based black artists across a dizzying array of disciplines ranging from musical performances to literary readings, from dance to visual arts, from poetry to drama. The month of March 2017 will be a showcase of the wealth of talent that Columbus, Ohio has to offer, featuring elite performances from participants from a variety of generations, backgrounds and identities.
Holler features both free or mild admission prices for events to allow for the largest cross-section of audience participation possible. All presentations are curated by longtime Columbus writer and organizer Scott Woods.
Why black art?
As of 2014 Columbus has approximately 836,000 people living in it…a 6% increase in 4 years. Columbus is growing, and fast. Something like 10,000 people per year right now. Columbus has long been heralded as the perfect textbook market city for American values, economic demographics, and political leanings. In 2010 Columbus was 40% non-white. 28% of that number was Black…more than double the statewide representation of 12%.
Which begs the question: Does Columbus seem 40% non-white to you? Do the arts in Columbus reflect the culture of 40% of its residents that aren’t of European descent? Do the politics and businesses seem 40% diverse? Does it even feel that way in February, when we have collectively decided to recognize Black contributions as a community? Probably not, seeing as how only 16% of the businesses in Columbus were Black-owned in 2007, which was still three times the percentage of Black-owned firms for the state.
As a member of that 40% of Columbus’s population that struggles with the lack of diversity my hometown contains, I can tell you that while our city does not wear the issues of other cities on its sleeve, it still has those issues. It still has crime, police relations issues, gentrification and struggling academics. It may not need the same level of address that other cities might on the same issues, but it has the same cultural, social, and political hurdles as any other city in the news. It struggles with achieving organic and wide-reaching diversity. This event is a serious blow against those issues in a concrete way.