Prior to joining the staff at GCAC to promote the mission of “Supporting Art and Advancing Culture,” she served Ohioans and advocated the arts statewide as Public Information Director for the Ohio Arts Council, in the Wayne Lawson era.
In many aspects Jami’s personal life and her professional passion are one and the same. Originally from Michigan, raised on a farm near Flint, graduated from the University of Michigan and managed stages for events, including appearances by Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones.
Upon her move to Columbus, her first job was with the German Village Society, then the Edwards Companies promoting the Brewery District, and she joined the Player’s Theater during their closing days in 1993.
Jami is active in civic-minded of arts leadership, serving on boards and committees of Gateway Film Center, Columbus Film Commission, Columbus Music Commission, Columbus Arts Marketing Association, the Arts & College Preparatory Academy, and Roy G Biv Gallery.
Jami on her CORE VALUES: “Being grateful and having compassion. And I think integrity, too. Say what you’re going to do and do what you say. Treat people kindly, try to be empathetic, and be grateful for what you have because so many people have so much less.”
Current mission to EFFECT CHANGE: “One of the greatest opportunities as I work at GCAC is the capability to effect change in the arts, which contributes to individual artists, organizations, education, community centers, economic development…a really vibrant cultural community that is critical to the success to any city.” She continues that as a city, “We’re not there, yet, at a level with our peer city competitors.”
GCAC President/CEO Tom Katzenmeyer has been given the charge to work on increasing funding, helping increase endowments for organizations, and marketing, raising the visability of the arts in Columbus, selling more tickets. “We want to change the landscape of funding for the arts in Columbus.” The budget has increased annually, the majority of which goes back out to the community in the form of artists and organizations grants. But in an additional campaign, a plan is being pitched to increase funding, a user fee on certain ticket sales, plus revenue from Franklin County. After all, recent local research reveals that county-wide, 2707 arts-related businesses employ 16,358 people, increasing almost 20% from 2015 to 2017.
Her EARLIEST MEMORY: “Probably at age four, walking down the lane on our farm holding my dad’s hand.” It was a very long, tree-lined passage that bordered up against the horse pasture. Her mom and her have a phrase they continue to share, “I love you longer than this lane and higher than the sky.”
Jami’s FEELING of her CONNECTEDNESS with others, the TEXTURE of EMOTION: “It feels like my heart is full. When I feel grateful for my friends, for our creative community, I feel this expansiveness, a nice warm glow in my chest.”
SCARCITY/ABUNDANCE: “I personally feel I am far on the abundance side, not necessarily monetarily, but wealth comes in full variety of other forms. But I unfortunately feel human kind right now is on the side of scarcity in compassion and kindness. It’s kindness and compassion and love that can change the world. How you approach your own choices in your personal sphere has a ripple effect into the community.”
Her proverbial “BOX,” which we’re often encouraged to THINK OUTSIDE OF: “It’s of my own construction. I tend to be very dogmatic, I’ll put my head down and just work. Sometimes I may come off as abrupt or uncaring, when in fact I’m just trying to get work done.” Her solution is to attempt to break out of this box, to slow down, but she finds it difficult to unplug, as her personal and professional lives are so entwined.
Her MUSE, the source for her IDEAS: Two courses of action to connect with her creativity. 1) She goes for walks in the woods, to get out of her head, and 2) To walk into any library. “The smell of books…I’m a voracious reader, the smell of books gives me a visceral reaction.” We agreed we find libraries humbling, and she added, “If there’s any redeeming quality for human beings it’s that we do have imaginations and are creative, and are occasionally capable of compassion.”
On UNCERTAINTY: “It’s a constant, change is constant. Adapting to that idea better prepares us to deal with the future. I’m confident that another opportunity will come along, and I’ve had the ability to recognize these opportunities. That said, I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years.”
In 5-YEARS, 2023: “I can see myself still here, if my work is unfinished. But we still have work to do here. Columbus…we’re on a cusp now, we have problems in this community we need to address, as 14th largest city we’re starting to feel the strain of rush hour traffic, lack of mass transit, an educational issue, opioid addiction, gentrification and disparity issues in socio-economic classes that must be addressed.” But…“Columbus has been very good at finding unique solutions to challenging social issues and I hope we can continue to do that.”
ANCESTRY: Jami is well-informed on her antecedents. Harriet Lane, niece of President James Buchanan on her mother’s side, Oliver Wendell Holmes on her father’s side.
Finally, Jami…WHATCHA READIN’? British detective novels, everything of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and just read re-read SHIBUMI, a spy novel by Trevanian.
Much THANKS to you, Jami.
And THANKS, too, toward all readers of “CAFFEINE COMMUNION.”
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