Experience Columbus wants visitors to imagine a weekend infused with Black culture.

Perhaps grabbing treats at Bake Me Happy, taking in an exhibit or show at Maroon Arts Group and the King Arts Complex, and dining at Ena’s Caribbean Kitchen or Shrimp Lips.

The tourism group’s new initiative, called CBUS Soul, highlights Columbus’ Black culture and Black-owned businesses.

Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus, said the initiative – a collaboration between the tourism group and local Black artists and activists – is one of the ways that Experience Columbus is becoming more intentional about showcasing diversity.

“Our community is a very diverse community,” Ross said. “We always talk about being smart and open and a progressive, inclusive and welcoming community, but we never really were intentional to bring awareness to the tremendous multicultural assets we have in our community.”

CBUS Soul includes several potential weekend itineraries, a rundown of Black-owned businesses and diverse cultural experiences. That includes highlighting dance classes at King Arts Complex, a program featuring local author Hanif Abdurraqib and others at Wexner Center for the Arts, and more.

Experience Columbus also has launched a series of videos that highlight Black community members and their stories to “connect visitors directly with the city’s movers and shakers,” according to the organization.

The group also worked with the Columbus Fashion Alliance to design and produce limited-edition apparel, including hoodies, sweatshirts and beanies, the proceeds of which will “support the CBUS Soul movement to continually amplify Black people, places and experiences in Columbus,” according to the group.

Ross said the goal of CBUS Soul is to “really amplify the rich, historic, innovative and forward-moving” Black culture in Columbus.

“This isn’t something that Experience Columbus just created,” he said. “We partnered with the community to tell us and consult us on how we can best showcase the Black culture that we have.”

Ross said Experience Columbus also hopes to similarly promote the businesses and cultural attractions of other diverse groups, such as the local LGBTQIA+ and Latino communities.

“That’s continuing to be built out now,” he said.

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