Monday, May 31, 2010

Columbus on NPR: Everyone Else Outsources, So Why Can't The Arts?

Listen to the story here

clipped from

In Columbus, Ohio, a number of arts groups are doing what American businesses started doing a long time ago: outsourcing. The recession hit nonprofits hard, and now these organizations have no choice but to become more efficient. So they're handing over the "back office" to the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, or CAPA. CAPA handles their finances, marketing, ticketing and fundraising — basically all the stuff that artists don't really like to do anyway.

Columbus Symphony Orchestra

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is one of the Ohio arts organizations that has turned to CAPA -- the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts -- for help with finances and fundraising.

 blog it

Artistically, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra has a very good reputation, but financially it's been a mess for some time. The recession nearly killed the orchestra altogether.

"It was a matter of running out of cash," says Roland Valliere, president of the Columbus Symphony.

Valliere says the symphony took drastic measures to save the orchestra: pay cuts, fewer concerts and layoffs. But the layoffs left the symphony with such a small administrative staff, that Valliere says it was nearly impossible to get everything done.

"It was like having the shortstop covering second and third base and expecting to win the World Series," Valliere says. "It wasn't gonna happen."

So Valliere went to Bill Conner, president of CAPA, an arts management organization. Conner says that he and Valliere arranged for CAPA to take over the symphony's back office support — which freed up $750,000 in the budget.

In the last year and a half, CAPA has made similar arrangements with five other cultural organizations — either handling their back offices or managing them outright. That's in addition to the four theaters CAPA owns.

CAPA now has 73 employees, and because it's bigger than most individual non-profit arts groups, it's able to attract more experienced professionals, Conner says. Having access to experienced marketing and development professionals matters a lot to Steven Anderson, artistic director of the Phoenix Children's Theater in Columbus — one of CAPA's clients.

Advertising and promotions manager Terence Womble is one of those CAPA professionals. Rather than all these art groups having their own PR directors, Womble says: "I just work like a slave and do it all."

When Womble buys advertising space, he gets a better rate because he's buying in bulk. "We're sort of the Sam's Club of arts advertising and marketing," he explains.

"CAPA has some outstanding clients," says Russell Willis Taylor, president and CEO of the nonprofit National Arts Strategies. "They wouldn't be using CAPA's services if they weren't good."

Taylor says she likes the idea of CAPA, but she believes arts groups that rely on their services need to be careful about giving up key relationships.

"If you outsource not just ticket sales but also communicating with your audience, what's the opportunity cost of that?" Taylor asks.

People who work in the arts in Columbus joke that "CAPA's taking over." The local newspaper recently ran a cartoon of a man with the word CAPA on his suit. On his back he's holding up a heavy load: an orchestra, an opera company, a theater company and ... a botanical garden.

Friday, May 28, 2010

BonoPIZZA Returns to the Short North Next Week

BonoPIZZA will be making a return to the Short North neighborhood next week as they start serving up their popular pizzas from the kitchen at the Short North Tavern, located at 674 N. High Street. Every Monday and Tuesday evening throughout June, Bill Yerkes will be cooking up your favorite pies from 5pm to 11pm both for dine-in and take-out service. If the demand is high enough in the new location, Bill said that he’d extend the service past June and to other days of the week.

“In honor of the Short North’s sexual habits, the Ménage à trois deal will be returning”, added Bill. “Food costs have gone up, so it’s $25 for 3 pizzas, but I still think that’s a good deal.”

The existing bonopizza location at 1717 Northwest Boulevard, near the corner of Northwest and Chambers, will remain open for business as well.

 blog it

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tonight: A One-Of-A-Kind Concert In Goodale Park

On Wednesday evening at 7:00, Goodale Park’s Shelter House will be filled with the fiery, inventive sounds of new music (also referred to as “art music” and “contemporary classical music”). The purpose of this free hour-long performance is to introduce the public to a lesser-known musical genre that thrives on uniqueness and experimentation. In other words, this isn’t music you hear every day.
 blog it

OSU’s New Music Collective and Carpe Diem String Quartet will present a fast-paced selection of new music pieces, including the jazzy post-minimalist Be-In by Evan Ziporyn for String Quartet and Bass Clarinet; a movement from Columbus composer (and jazz drummer) Mark Lomax’s String Quartet; OSU composer Gregory Proctor’s Three Pieces for Violins; Luciano Berio’s explosive Sequenza VIIb for solo soprano saxophone (to be performed by young sax virtuoso Casey Grev); Edwin London’s ethereal Moon Sound Zone for String Ensemble, Eight Voices, and Triangles; and Charles Ives’ classic The Unanswered Question for String Ensemble, Woodwind Quartet, and Solo Trumpet.

A meet and greet with the musicians and free scoops of Jeni’s Ice Cream will follow the concert. Limited free parking is available outside of the Shelter House and metered parking is available along the perimeters of the park. This event is sponsored by the Johnstone Fund for New Music, which supports the creation and performance of new music. Visit for more information.

Alexandra Kelley is a featured writer for Columbus Underground and can be reached at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New in the Short North..."a little slice of Europe"

clipped from

On Restaurants

A little slice of Europe

Plates of bread, cheese, meat paired with wine in owner's vision

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 2:52 AM

By Denise Trowbridge


Architect Steve Hurtt, left, helped bring Yusef Riazi's vision to life at Mouton, opening soon in the renovated Ohio Art League building.
Architect Steve Hurtt, left, helped bring Yusef Riazi's vision to life at Mouton, opening soon in the renovated Ohio Art League building.

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou. Now add artisan cheeses and gourmet cured meats, and you have the core menu offered by Mouton, which is expected to open sometime next week in the former Ohio Art League space at 954 N. High St.

Owner Yusef Riazi is betting that Columbus palates will be won over with Mouton's combination of artisan foods paired with light and bright European wines.

"It's not tapas or appetizers," Riazi said. "This is a very specific vision that revolves around beautiful breads, cheeses and cured meats.

blog it

"Anywhere you go in Europe, this is how people eat," he said. "They sit down with meat, bread, cheese and a carafe of wine."

Some of the meats - which include pancetta, prosciutto, and salami - will come from gourmet producers such as Fra'Mani in Berkeley, Calif., and La Quercia in Norwalk, Iowa. Selections from Niman Ranch of Alameda, Calif., which supplies natural meats to Chipotle, probably will be on the menu as well.

The cheese will come from closer to home.

"There will always be an Ohio cheese on the menu," Riazi said. As for the rest, "I'm drawing a line across Wisconsin, and all of the cheese will come from east of there, all the way over to Vermont. They're doing wonderful cheeses in this area."

The bread will be made by a local baker using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the menu will grow and change in response to customer feedback.

All the meat, bread and cheese combinations will be paired with wine. Riazi, a former wine salesman, is studying for his master sommelier certification. Even the restaurant's name, Mouton, was inspired by the Chateau Mouton Rothschild winery in the Bordeaux region of France.

Like its menu, Mouton will morph from one concept to another throughout the day. When the doors open at 8a.m., Mouton will be a bright, airy coffee shop with simple, straightforward coffee drinks and handmade baked goods. The coffee beans are roasted by Cafe Brioso and served with milk from the Snowville Dairy in Athens.

Throughout the day, while some customers have lunch or dinner in the dining room, others will be able to pop in and out with carryout orders, as most items on the dinner menu will be available "to go."

Then, late at night, the space will turn into a cocktail lounge. Mouton has a full liquor license and is developing a menu of specialty cocktails made with fresh ingredients.

Riazi, who recently turned 33, has dreamed of owning a restaurant for years.

He has worked in the restaurant business since age 18, starting as a dishwasher. He is a former employee of the Refectory, Rigsby's and Northstar Cafe.

"I've worked my way through the business," he said, "and for years I've been putting together in my head what I wanted to do on my own, what I'm passionate about."

When Riazi stumbled on the space at 954 N. High St., everything fell into place - even though the roof had collapsed, and it basically was an empty shell.

"We did a complete gut renovation. It took eight months," he said. "We rebuilt the space using a lot of architectural salvage and gallery-style lighting to recapture the art-gallery vibe."

Mouton seats 32 and will be open from 8 a.m. to 10p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zillow report raises question: Have We Hit Bottom?

Looks like we might be almost there. Start looking now if you want to buy or trade up. Remember, all real estate is local so your preferred area or neighborhood could be VERY different.

Housing values in Columbus and most U.S. metropolitan areas continued their decline into the first quarter, but a new report from researcher points to encouraging signs in some of the most battered markets.

Zillow on Monday reported that its quarterly home value index fell 3.8 percent from a year earlier to a median $183,700. Of the 135 metro markets that the Seattle company tracks, 106 registered declines.

Zillow’s index is a median estimate for a single-family residence, condominium or cooperative in an area on a given day in the quarter

The Columbus area, according to Zillow data, saw a slightly steeper slide in valuation in the first three months of the year, its median home value tumbling 5.1 percent to $108,700.

 blog it

Despite the continued decline nationally in home values, Zillow reported those drops might be nearing a bottom in several large California metros, including the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco areas. But some worry the long-term improvement trends may be threatened by the federal home buyer tax credit program stealing demand from the traditional summer housing-buying market instead of creating new demand.

That shift is likely to help put the bottom of the housing value decline in the fourth quarter of this year, rather than the second quarter as originally projected, Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries said in a release. The tax credit program is scheduled to end in June.

“When we do get there, we expect the high rates of negative equity and foreclosures to keep national home value appreciation near zero for some time, possibly as long as five years,” Humphries said.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Short North Business Association Executive Director Resigns

Christina Menges, the new Executive Director for the Short North Business Association has stepped down just four months after being hired for the position. Christina followed long-time Director John Angelo who left in December after four and a half years of service.

“As much as we all liked Christina, it wasn’t a great fit, said Juli Rogers, SNBA Board Member and Owner of R Design & Printing. “She needs to work in an environment with a larger staff and greater budget. That, unfortunately, does not describe the SNBA yet.”

The SNBA Board is planning on regrouping to redefine the position before seeking new applications for the job. In the meantime, the SNBA office will continue to be staffed as usual.

“We parted on good terms and I am sure Christina will go on to great things and remain a friend of the SNBA,” added Rogers.

 blog it

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flash Mob at the Ohio Union 5/3/2010 - The Ohio State University

The Ohio Union — May 03, 2010 — Students and staff break out into a dance in the great hall of the new Ohio Union on Monday, May 3, 2010 around 12:35 PM.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hungarian Village neighborhood (in Central Ohio) reviving ties to ethnic past

clipped from

Not many Hungarians remain, but some residents of the small South Side neighborhood fly the national flag and honor the culture

Monday, May 3, 2010 2:51 AM


Yes, Hungarians still live in Hungarian Village.

Take Joseph Nagy. He ran a shoe-repair shop on Parsons Avenue for six decades, retiring last fall a few months before he turned 87. For years, he walked the block or so from his E. Hinman Avenue house to the store.

Tom Linzell, president of the Hungarian Village Society, is not Hungarian but flies Hungary's flag outside the house he bought in 2001.
Tom Linzell, president of the Hungarian Village Society, is not Hungarian but flies Hungary's flag outside the house he bought in 2001.
Shirley Ann Eastham, 5, lives in Hungarian Village with her three older brothers and a new puppy named Diego.
Shirley Ann Eastham, 5, lives in Hungarian Village with her three older brothers and a new puppy named Diego.
Margaret Leonardo, 85, has lived on Hinman Avenue since her Hungarian father moved there in 1950.
Margaret Leonardo, 85, has lived on Hinman Avenue since her Hungarian father moved there in 1950.

blog it

His father came to the United States in 1903 to mine coal in Perry County, and then moved to Columbus in the 1930s, thanks to the Works Progress Administration, the Depression-era jobs program for out-of-work Americans.

Margaret Leonardo's father, Joseph Meszaros, mined coal in Athens County. He moved his family to Columbus in 1950. Leonardo, 85, still lives in their 95-year-old Hinman Avenue house.

But for the most part, Hungarian Village is devoid of residents who can trace their roots to Budapest or Debrecen.

"Not many Hungarians in this neighborhood. All passed away," Nagy said.

Italian Village and, of course, German Village are far better known. But those who have moved to Hungarian Village in recent years are working to re-create its identity. They fly Hungarian flags on their porches and used grant money to buy signs that are red, white and green - the colors of Hungary's flag - to educate visitors.

"We love the neighborhood," said Flo Plagenz, who, with her husband, Andrew, moved to Hungarian Village six years ago. "Even though we're not Hungarian, there's pride in having that identification."

Hungarian Village is wedged just south of Merion Village and north of the Reeb- Hosack/Steelton Village neighborhood. It's little more than Woodrow and Hinman avenues between S.High Street and Parsons Avenue, although in the 1970s, neighborhood leaders listed the northern border as E. Markison Avenue, said Doreen Uhas-Sauer, president of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation.

A century ago, the neighborhood teemed with immigrants from Hungary, Croatia and Italy. So many countries were represented on the South Side then that a Parsons Avenue market called Foreign Grocery employed a staff that spoke about a dozen languages.

The residents had left the mines to toil at nearby businesses and factories such as Buckeye Steel Castings, where they made parts for railroad cars. And Parsons Avenue hummed with commerce. "It was a vibrant community through the 1940s and 1950s, even the 1960s," said Alex Huber of the Hungarian Cultural Association in Columbus.

In 1973, the Rev. Zoltan Szabo, pastor of the Hungarian Reformed Church on Woodrow Avenue, proposed a "new" Hungarian Village akin to German Village. The Hungarian Cultural Association still meets in the 104-year-old church, once a neighborhood hub.

The church now has only 175 members. But in the 1940s, "You had to get to church early, or you didn't get a seat," said Julius Gyurcsik, who grew up on the South Side and now lives near Carroll in Fairfield County.

In May 1991, Hungary's president at the time, Arpad Goncz, visited the church on a seven-day U.S. trip.

Many Hungarians or those with Hungarian roots attended St. Ladislas Roman Catholic Church, also on the South Side.

Last summer, Columbus Landmarks led a tour of the neighborhood, visiting houses and studying their century-old architecture, including Queen Anne and Dutch Colonial styles.

Thousands of Hungarian refugees from the failed 1956 anti-Soviet revolution settled in U.S. cities with larger Hungarian populations such as Cleveland, New York and Newark, N.J., Huber said. A few came to Columbus, infusing the neighborhood and city with new blood, said Huber, himself a refugee.

Today, some residents are working to restore the neighborhood, which struggles with foreclosures, boarded-up houses and a spate of arsons a little more than a year ago.

Tom Linzell, president of the Hungarian Village Society, bought his Hinman Avenue house in 2001. Like the Plagenzes, he was a first-time buyer, and the price - $82,000 - was "obviously a factor," he said.

But more than that attracted him. He likes being 3 miles from work Downtown. And he likes the traditional neighborhood feel, with garages along alleys behind the houses, and the racial and economic diversity.

Linzell, 41, grew up in Worthington and knew nothing of the neighborhood's history. He does now, and flies a Hungarian flag.

You might not hear szia - Hungarian for "hello" - on Hinman Avenue today. But you can imagine it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Men's Clothing Store Opening Downtown

New retail ventures are slowly re-entering the Downtown market, and the addition of The Player’s Catalog, a new men’s clothing store marks a very significant move into the area. This mail-order-turned-retail store is located at 10 W. Broad Street inside the One Columbus Center at the corner of High & Broad, and will be holding their grand opening on Monday, May 10th.
blog it

“We’ve operated as a print catalog with online sales for quite awhile, but we actually started many years ago as a golf business”, said Ben Simon, General Manager of The Player’s Catalog. “So that’s where the name comes from.”

The transformation into a retail venture has been a gradual one for the business, as their focus has evolved over the past few years.

“We were testing some different products, and we determined that there was a market in the high-end menswear business, so we started moving in that direction five or six years ago,” said Ben. “We decided to totally move in that direction and now we have hardly anything golf-related and are strictly high-end menswear.”

Some of the brands carried include Cole Haan, Allen Edmonds, Jhane Barnes, Robert Talbott and Tommy Bahama.

“Our merchandise mix is a bit faster than others, kind of like a Nordstrom on steroids,” added Ben. “Customers will find a very wide selection of almost all of the popular brand names they know. It will look like Nordstrom’s Men’s Department in Downtown Columbus.”

The new store will serve as both a retail space for walk-in customers as well as office space for the continuation of the catalog and online business.

“We have about 1,000 square feet of retail in the front and we’ll run the catalog from the rest of the space in the back,” explained Ben. “The big impetus for doing this Downtown is that we’re not a true retail store, so we don’t have to abide by traditional retail hours.”

The store will be open from 11am to 4pm to start, with additional hours to be added as necessary.

“We’re hoping is that the people in our building will help get the word out,” said Ben. “It feels like a small community Downtown even though there are a lot of people working in these buildings.”

More information can be found online at