First round of Spark grants announced

First round of Spark grants announced

Urban Arts Space gallery with colorful paintings on multiple walls
An exhibition of Columbus City Schools students' artwork, funded by a Spark grant, will be hosted at Ohio State's Urban Arts Space in downtown Columbus. 

Cultivating community-engaged, arts-driven innovation across the state

The Office of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University has selected its first round of Spark grant recipients. Funded by the Mellon Foundation, Spark grants will be awarded over the next three years to provide seed funding to community-engaged arts projects. These grants will enable arts-driven innovation to flourish across the state, including projects in the rural areas served by the university’s regional campuses.

Grant applications are judged on the following multiple criteria:

  • Innovative and cross-disciplinary nature of the proposal
  • Proposal’s intended impact on a well-defined community or demographic
  • Geographic scope of the project
  • Project’s potential for scalability or sustainability with outside funding

During the program's first year, grants will be funded to a maximum of $25,000.

2024-25 Spark grant recipients:

PI - Sarah Simpson, Family Education and Literacy Specialist
Schoenbaum Family Center, in partnership with the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy
College of Education and Human Ecology

A mural for the library of the A. Sophie Rogers School for Early Learning (Columbus) to be painted by artist Anthony Pomales with help and input from Weinland Park Elementary and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

PI - Joe Fahey, Professor
Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts
The Ohio State University at Mansfield
College of Arts and Sciences

A mobile technology performance lab that will enable theatre faculty and students from Mansfield to help teachers in local public schools stage performances using professional-grade lighting and sound equipment.

Co-PI - Joni Boyd Acuff, Professor
Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy
Co-PI - Nyama McCarthy-Brown, Associate Professor
Department of Dance
College of Arts and Sciences

Making Good Trouble with Old Narratives is a collaboration between Ohio State and Columbus City Schools (Indianola Informal, Arts Impact Middle School, Ft. Hayes, Africentric Early College PreK-12, Duxberry Park Arts Impact Elementary and Columbus Gifted Academy). It will culminate with an exhibition of student work at the Urban Arts Space in downtown Columbus.

PI - Austin Thomas, Lecturer
School of Music
The Ohio State University at Lima
College of Arts and Sciences

Drumming for Wellness is a collaboration between Ohio State Lima and Mercy Health St. Rita’s Medical Center. It aims to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease and those learning about it. A pilot version of the program has been running for three years.

Drumming for Wellness class of adults and students
Ohio State Lima's Drumming for Wellness program, which benefits people living with Parkinson’s disease, will receive support from a Spark grant.

“By strategically aligning our resources with those that already exist in Columbus and enhancing opportunities in communities served by our regional campuses, Ohio State will expand engagement in what we hope will be transformative art experiences for all. Our thanks to the Mellon Foundation for their support, and congratulations to these well-deserving awardees.”
Lisa Florman, vice provost for the arts