Amplify-ing Cola


Photo by @beardedspoooon

Table of Contents

A little louder for the people in the back

You’ve probably seen the broad strokes about Amplify, the City of Columbia and nonprofit One Columbia’s new arts initiative, teased all month and announced last week in a press conference with speakers like Mayor Steve Benjamin. You may have even seen the reveal on our Instagram story or on YouTube.


Vlogger Xavier Parker went to the Amplify launch + made a video about how inspired he was.

But if you’re still a little ~unclear~ on what Amplify is, we hear you. And we’re here to help.

Key terms: 🔑

✔️ Amplify = the name for the planning process by the City + One Columbia to create a unified cultural plan

  • “Amplify” because we’re having a conversation and heightening awareness about Cola’s culture and its arts access, offerings + development
  • Will highlight existing arts, cultural + heritage resources and recommend ways to strengthen those
  • Bottom line = align efforts between the arts + other sectors across Cola to get things (well-)done for the future of our city

✔️ Cultural plan = a community conversation that ID’s opportunities for broadening public participation in arts and cultural activities

  • Will focus on 4 core areas:
    • Economic prosperity for the Columbia Region
    • Cultural vitality
    • Social and cultural equity
    • Ways to embed arts and culture across the City’s Comprehensive Plan
  • Cities like Dallas, Denver, Raleigh and Boston have also recently developed or are currently developing cultural plans

✔️ City Planning Department’s Comprehensive Plan = 10-year plan by the City to help guide the city’s growth/development; includes Cultural Resources section (same thing as cultural plan that Amplify is developing)

  • Looks to improve 8 areas like Housing (need for additional + affordable housing), Natural Resources (prevent development from replacing natural reserves/parks), and Cultural Resources (desirable location to attract + retain residents – this is the section that will be created through Amplify)

✔️ South Carolina Arts Commission’s Long Range Plan for the Arts 2011-2020 = long-range vision + broad goals for the arts in S.C.; will be referenced throughout Amplify’s planning process

Cultural planning process: 📒

✔️ Cost = $80,000. Half paid by the City; other half paid by the Knight Foundation via Central Carolina Community Foundation + Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

✔️ Three phases over the next 18 months:

  • Community Engagement (gathering public input)
    • Neighborhood town hall meetings | March 14-17 (details TBA)
    • Individual interviews
    • Artist-led focus groups | led by 2-3 people; can be hands-on creative sessions held anywhere with participants ranging in all ages + interests
    • Online survey | 12 questions like “define culture,” “how does Cola compare,” and “which pieces of public art are most important to you?”
  • Analysis of public input
  • Draft and final development of the Cultural Plan for review + adoption by the Mayor and City Council

✔️ Leaders = a lot of people are involved.

  • One Columbia Board of Directors (16)
  • Amplify staff + advisors (5, including consulting team led by Margie Johnson Reese, nationally recognized arts management professional)
  • Amplify Steering Committee (17 volunteer leaders from various industries)
  • Amplify Thought Leaders (41 volunteer leaders from various industries)
  • Amplify Artist Facilitators (8 local artists)

How to help with Amplify: ✋

✔️ Take the online survey

✔️ Go to a neighborhood meeting (March 14-17, details TBA) + look out for future events

✔️ Be up to date with meeting schedules + events

✔️ Send proactive ideas/feedback to

✔️ Stay in-the-know by following @onecolumbia on Twitter + Facebook

I’m stoked about Amplify as it evolves and we learn more about it. If you participate in the arts + culture scene in Cola (from appreciating a mural to attending a festival), you should definitely carve out time to talk about it during a town hall meeting in March. Maybe we can sit together.


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