Mayor Benjamin greatly values the preservation and continuing cultivation of the arts in Columbia. This is why he has made such an effort to not only highlight and maintain the existing art in the city but to also encourage local artists to showcase their work and bring new art into the city through the Columbia Museum of Art and One Columbia for Arts and History.
First established at the beginning of Mayor Benjamin’s first term, the City’s Poet Laureate Ed Madden can be found at almost every large-scale public event in Columbia and has written and performed poetry on a variety of topics. Madden also participates in projects like River Poems and Poetry on the COMET, which bring poetry to some unexpected places for the people of Columbia to enjoy.
The City of Columbia is also in the process of creating a new city flag. This will be the first new flag for the city in more than 100 years. The Columbia Design League and One Columbia for Arts and History have come together to launch this project, and residents submitted more than 500 flag entries. A panel of stakeholders and design experts will choose the winning flag design, and City Council will do the final approval and adoption.
In an effort to increase public art around the city, many new murals have been commissioned and installed for public enjoyment. One of the newest murals is called “Milagros,” painted by the Miami-based Milagros Collective during the Indie Grits festival. Milagros can be found at the intersection of Taylor and Assembly streets on the side of the Taylor Street Garage. Located on Millwood Avenue is the Instagram-worthy “Love, Peace & Hip-Hop” mural. This colorful tribute to area residents’ love of community was painted by Cedric Umoja, Karl Zurflüh and Brandon Donahue. It can be spotted between Tree and House Streets.
Mayor Benjamin’s vision for the arts in Columbia is not only to protect and preserve the art that is already here but also to grow and prosper new art in the city and make it available to all of the city’s residents.