Subscribe to email lists. Ye Olde Arts Journalist Trick: Subscribe to as many arts organizations' email lists and newsletters as possible; for example, the Greater Columbus Arts Council's monthly Front Row Center newsletter. You can just sign up for the places you're interested in, but doing this means you'll be alerted to details like parking, seating and late exhibit or performance additions or cancellations. The weekly or monthly emails also act as great reminders to exhibit openings and closings that you may have forgotten about.
Take an art class. You can find adult classes and workshops on everything from welding to glass fusing (try the Columbus Idea Foundry), ballet to beginner's Broadway tap (get your jazz hands on at BalletMet, y'all). There are painting classes at 400 West Rich and continuing education art history courses at Columbus College of Art and Design. Sign up a few weeks in advance to avoid a waitlist; we recommend checking out the class schedule about a month before the new season's classes start.
Go to artists' receptions.The best times to go to art exhibits and shows are the nights of the artists' receptions. Sometimes these are on the opening day of the exhibit (you'll get this a lot during Short North Gallery Hop) but many are not. During these receptions, the artists with work on the walls are on-hand and ready to mingle with the crowd and talk about their art. Also on-hand if you're lucky, hors d'oeuvre.
Take advantage of freeadmission and discounts. Arts organizations know how to appease a penny-pincher. Among the highlights: The Columbus Museum of Art offers free admission on Sundays; Short North Stage's Comedy Tonight series gives discounts on tickets to audience members who say "Columbus is Funny" at the door; and the Wexner Center has free docent-led tours of its gallery's exhibits (check the website or call ahead for times) and free admission on Thursday after 4 p.m. and on the first Sunday of every month.
Look for lectures. Hearing someone well-versed in the art you are viewing, whether it's the artist or a local expert on the subject matter, always enhances your experience with the artwork. Most galleries will have artist talks for each show and many of the musical and ballet performances in town will include a pre- or post-performance lecture on the history of the music involved in the show. We especially recommend the Wexner Center's master classes, which the center offers to attendees after many of its performing and film events to discuss the work they just saw, sometimes book club style, sometimes professor lecture style.