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Licking Heights Local School District News Article

Heights Alumna Wins 2023 Columbus Makes Art Excellence Award

Destiny Coleman’s career as an artist is all about the journey.

Coleman, a 2009 alumna of Licking Heights, earned the prestigious 2023 Columbus Makes Art Excellence Award presented by the Greater Columbus Arts Council for her original production The Journey: Civil Rights, commissioned by Converging Arts Columbus. The Columbus Makes Art Excellence Awards “recognize outstanding achievements in innovation, risk and artistic excellence in a performance, exhibition, program or project.”

“It’s such an amazing accomplishment. I never thought something I created would receive such an outstanding award,” she says. “Winning felt as if I was finally being seen for the work I’m doing in Columbus. I’m extremely humbled by the experience and honored to be recognized as an artist.”

The Journey: Civil Rights is the second installment to a show called The Journey that Coleman created while working as the Director of Education and Artistic Administration at Opera Columbus. The Journey celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance and premiered in 2019 at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Columbus. Coleman also created a smaller outreach show called The Voice of Freedom that traveled to local libraries, community centers and colleges to showcase African-American culture and music.

"I created these productions to provide a closer look at African-American history, emphasizing the musical achievements and contributions to the music industry and broader U.S. culture,” she says. “While acknowledging the challenges faced by African-Americans, my goal is also to showcase our resilience, creativity and positive impact, celebrating the triumphs that have emerged from our experiences."

After The Journey received excellent reviews and feedback, the Columbus community asked for a second show. This prompted Converging Arts Columbus, of which Coleman is also a board member, to commission The Journey: Civil Rights. The show premiered on May 6, 2023 at the Lincoln Theatre.

According to Coleman, The Journey: Civil Rights is a celebration of music and history inspired by African-American culture, featuring gospel, jazz, and works from the Civil Rights movement. Coleman’s show featured over 50 local black artists, including the Columbus Cultural Orchestra, Columbus Dance Theatre, Milton Ruffin Gospel Chorale and Tapestry Performing Arts Company.

Coleman expresses that she doesn't frequently consider the widespread impact she has on the community. She shares, "My motivation for creating this show was rooted in a desire to contribute to the culture, support local artists and showcase what Columbus has to offer."

Coleman is a trained opera singer with a bachelor of music in vocal performance from The Ohio State University and a master of science in management and leadership from Western Governors University. Coleman currently serves as the Director of The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business, and Entrepreneurship at Ohio Wesleyan University.

While at Licking Heights, she was involved with advanced choir, women's chorus, musicals, jazz band and dance team. She credits her music teachers from Licking Heights, Debbie Costa and Tom Shook, with inspiring her passion for music, as well as her grandmother for introducing her to the performing arts at a young age. She also loves opera and jazz, and blending these two styles influences her creative process when writing shows.

Overall, Coleman’s work as an artist is guided by one major idea: celebrating and representing African-American contributions to the world.

"I aim for the audience, especially young children, to witness individuals on stage who resemble them," she says. "I believe this is incredibly important. I always strive to establish an environment where children can envision and aspire to become what they see."

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Licking Heights Local School District

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