Everything is bigger at the 2014 Artbeat, a two week-long celebration of the Chattahoochee Valley arts.
There are more performers at this year’s opening ceremony — almost 200, compared to last year’s 90 — and more programs.
At a Friday morning news conference, Artbeat organizers debuted details of this year’s event for the first time.
Even the conference was large: the CSU Trombone Ensemble played next to CSU music school mascot Pianosaurus as guests walked through the entrance of Columbus Bank & Trust’s downtown Bradley Building; ballerinas directed guests up to a second-floor ballroom.
Inside, ushers walked by on stilts.
The pomp had a purpose: Artbeat Chair Helen Johnson, a CB&T executive, said during the conference that the performers were “a little sample” of who would be coming out in a few weeks.
Artbeat 2014 kicks off March 13 with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. at Woodruff Park and concludes March 30.
Artbeat is privately funded through the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley; as well as by fundraising during the annual Georgia Gives Day.
“One of the main parts of the Artbeat, the main mission, is to educate people and to engage people and to get them interested and comfortable,” Johnson said.
Even the site-specific installations are large.
Alex Brewer, an Atlanta-based muralist better known as HENSE, has covered the side of the two-story building at 1211 Broadway in every kind of color while the Brooklyn artist Rachel Hayes will attach a fabric sculpture beneath the arches of the Dillingham Street Bridge.
Many of this year’s programs will be “in the public all the time,” Johnson said — including five donated Steinway grand pianos, which will be painted and placed in public spaces around Columbus for anyone to play.
Last year’s theme was “Arts in the Streets.” This year, it’s “Arts on the Chattahoochee.”
Highlights from among the 20-page program include both Brewer’s and Hayes’ installations, as well as the Columbus Symphony’s annual Toast of the Town and a production of “Beauty and the Beast,” among many others.
Participating organizations include nearly every major arts organization in the Columbus area: the RiverCenter, the Springer, the Columbus Museum, the National Infantry Museum, Columbus State University and so on.
Kristen Zohn, co-chair of Artbeat’s programming committee, said that this year’s submissions were up by about 25 percent over 2013.
Zohn said that Artbeat has not funded any of the programs this year in their entirety. Some were funded by participating groups; others were partnerships among at least two other arts organizations to produce programs that dealt specifically with the year’s theme.
She said that the volume of Artbeat’s programming this year is just a reflection of the arts community’s daily bustle.
“I’m very excited about the opening celebration, actually — the combination of theater and dance and fireworks,” Zohn said. “How can you get better than that?”