Ohio Humanities has been awarded a Creative Economy Grant of $15,394 from the Ohio Arts Council for the Pilot Partnership, a project in Westerville that will act as a pilot for a statewide heritage tourism initiative. The project brings together Westerville city government, Westerville Arts Council, public library and historical society to assess cultural heritage assets that can contribute to quality of life and economic development in the community. Ohio Humanities executive director, Pat Williamsen says, “This kind of project creates virtuous circles for cultural heritage tourism by creating dynamic collaborations between local and statewide agencies.” And, “We are very appreciative of Ohio Arts Council’s support for the project and look forward to partnering with them.” Once the project is completed next summer, it will act as a template for a planned statewide cultural heritage tourism web portal. The project will enable Ohio Humanities to test digital tools being designed for the statewide portal and create templates for other communities.
The Pilot Partnership will begin with a survey of cultural assets in Westerville to identify the overarching stories of the town. The project will also provide training to citizen-curators for script and itinerary development. Once the pilot project is completed, Ohio Humanities will expand to work with other partners in the tourism and cultural heritage industries.
Westerville was selected for the pilot project because of its unique collection of cultural assets and highly engaged civic and cultural leaders. Westerville mayor, Diane Fosselman says the city is eager to partner with Ohio Humanities and, “introduce Westerville and our historic role in the fabric of the state of Ohio to visitors near and far.”
National arts and tourism studies show that, with the right combination of amenities, cultural heritage travelers will linger 2.5 days and spend up to 15 times more visiting cultural sites and on local dining and retail. The project will elevate Westerville’s cultural assets to create a destination experience where history and culture partner with business to attract more economic activity.