Nonprofit organization to build community around the arts

A new art gallery will open this fall on the South Side, giving art a home in the struggling-but-emerging community and utilizing the arts as a driver of continued community-building.

That might seem a bit high-minded for a fledgling organization like All People Arts, but the folks behind it have a track record of making a difference in the Parsons Avenue corridor and beyond.

An initiative of Community Development for All People, itself an outgrowth of the South Side's Church for All People, All People Arts will be a gallery and workshop space located at the Parsons Village II senior apartments, so at its open it will already be part of a community partnership. Indeed, the initiative is currently offering workshops at the Reeb Avenue Center.

All People Arts, which will formally introduce itself to the larger Columbus community at an event at the Cultural Arts Center on Thursday, May 23, will continue with that kind of programming this fall, but will add bi-monthly exhibitions focused on collectives and emerging artists, Executive Director Shelbi Harris-Roseboro said.

“The arts connects everybody,” Harris-Roseboro said, “whether it's making art themselves or coming to an exhibition.”

“We want the gallery to be a physical space where people come and experience art being created across the community and to bond over it,” said Rev. John Edgar, executive director of Community Development for All People. “The hope is to draw diverse parts of the [South Side] community together and to have that diversity create inclusivity.”

All People Arts' location on Parsons Avenue will be about a block from the former South Side Settlement House, the community service center that closed in 2011. Edgar said All People Arts honors that agency's legacy.

“The South Side Settlement House always had an emphasis on the arts and expression and self-actualization,” Edgar said. “We have had a yearning to carry that legacy and move it forward.”

Edgar added that April Sunami, board president for All People Arts, is the daughter-in-law of longtime South Side Settlement House Executive Director Mari Sunami.

“I've been involved over the years with things Community Development for All People has done, and I'm a member of the church,” April Sunami said. “There has been the thought that the missing element on the South Side was the arts.”

Harris-Roseboro said the space will feature the performing as well as the visual arts.

“You can't be All People Arts and not do it all,” she said.