COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–The Greater Columbus Arts Council is urging Columbus residents to become tourists in their own city with a new arts passport program.

The program, which encourages people to visit dozens of arts and cultural experiences this fall, was launched to inspire people to venture out safely once again despite Covid-19. Many of the stops are Covid-19-friendly, with masks required or the ability to socially distance.

“After almost two years, we started to feel like strangers in our own city,” said Jami Goldstein, vice president for marketing, communications, and events at the arts council.

Through the end of October, people who attend any of more than 60 art experiences can earn stickers to earn prices. Potential rewards include Hamilton tickets for when the Broadway musical comes to Columbus next year, a stay at Hotel LeVeque, private movie screenings at Gateway Film Center, and more.

The arts and tourism sector has been the most negatively impacted due to Covid-19. Nearly 30% of arts industry workers in Ohio lost their jobs last year.

“It’s been hard financially and emotionally for arts organizations and the public during the past 18 months,” Goldstein said. “Knowing that the arts can heal both our souls and the community, we wanted to find a fun way to encourage people back into art spaces and experiences.”

The council is paying all costs associated with the program. It has also paid 23 Columbus artists to design custom stickers that are being used as passport stamps.

“We wanted to create a program that didn’t put a financial burden on arts organizations or the general public,” Goldstein said.

While not every art experience on the list of stops is free, Goldstein said, several of them are or others offer at least one free day, meaning residents can “tour many stops for free and redeem their stickered passports for prizes at no cost.”

The public can participate in the program until Oct. 31. Dec. 1 is the last day for people to redeem prizes.

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