Proposed ticket fee could enrich Columbus-area student’s education

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The Greater Columbus Arts Council wants to add a 7 percent ticket fee to events at venues catering to more than 400 people on tickets of more than $10.

This would nearly double the amount of money they have access to which could be used to help organizations like Momentum grow their educational outreach programs.

“One of the most remarkable parts about this program is watching students achieve throughout the year and often times it’s even more than they knew they could achieve,” said Elyse Dakin, one of the instructors with Momentum.

Momentum was started 16 years ago and has grown from one person into nearly two dozen with roughly half of them being dance instructors or accompanists.

If the ticket fee proposal passes some of the money brought in would trickle down to Momentum and other organizations like it.

Recently, students involved in Momentum balanced on one foot and the driving chords of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” fueled them with the energy needed to continue planking to build core strength. The fourth graders at Horizon Elementary School in Hilliard were learning about two aspects of what is needed to be a successful dancer.

Two instructors and an accompanist spent nearly 45 minutes teaching the kids snippets of choreography that they will eventually put together in a final performance at the end of the year.

The work they do with nearly 1,600 fourth-grade students at Columbus and Hilliard schools is paid for through a variety of sources.

The school pays a small fee, but most of the funding comes from outside sources like the GCAC.

Momentum seeks to go deeper than just teaching kids a few dance moves.

“These lead teachers are so incredible that it’s so much more than a dance class,” said Doug Hare, an accompanist for Momentum. “They’re teaching how to honor each other through respect and patience.”

He is talking about the pillars Momentum is built on, as explained by one of Momentum’s lead instructors Micela Gonzalez.

“We do something called the big-four where they learn about working hard; never giving up for things; doing their best; being healthy,” said Gonzalez.

“They can take these lessons and make any facet of their live more meaningful and more powerful,” said Hare.

According to the program’s founding director, Monica Kridler, what they have seen for years is a track record of success.

“We’re able to help these children experience tremendous joy when they are being disciplined, when they’re working hard, when they’re striving to be ready to perform, that joy bubbles up inside those children and makes them more open to learning. (They’re) more open to being excellent. And what we hear from classroom teachers is they take that willingness to learn, to be vulnerable, back into the classroom,” Kridler said.

Kridler says Momentum has seen natural growth over its 16 years, but she would like to see a large expansion so they can reach more students.

An infusion of funding that could come from a ticket fee would allow the organization to do that.

Right now, the majority of the money brought in by the fee would go back into the community through funding of the arts.

Thirty percent of the fee would be set aside to go toward maintaining Nationwide Arena which, hasn’t been significantly upgraded in nearly two decades, according to the GCAC.

Because it has not been upgraded it is now near the bottom of the list of venues some events want to use because it cannot handle the technological demands some events now carry.

The remaining 70 percent would nearly double the amount of money the GCAC uses to fund arts on an annual basis.

If the fee is not passed arts funding could begin backsliding as soon as next year due to not having enough to meet needs, according to the GCAC,

“We have been studying this problem for a very long time,” said Jami Goldstein with the GCAC.

“Our arts organizations never really recovered from the recession like business did in Columbus and we’ve identified a $15 million funding gap between GCAC and our arts organizations programming. We run out of money in several of our programs each year. The demand is just too much.”

Beyond enhancing education through the arts, making sure adequate arts opportunities are available to the people of Columbus is needed for continued economic development and as part of the quality of life component, many companies and individuals assess when deciding whether to make Columbus their home, , Goldstein said.

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