Location: Westgate Park, 455 S. Westgate Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43204.
Sidebar: In order to shorten this article, I posted the interviews with the Carole Walker, Artist Zac Roc, and Paisha Thomas. Click on their names to go to those articles.
Tell me about the festival.
The festival is still called Summer Jam West. We changed the name of the non-profit organization to Hilltop Arts Collective because we are a year-round program. We are not just the festival.
Why put on a festival? Why have an organization?
If you are from the Hilltop, you know that many words associated with the Hilltop in the past have not been positive. There is so much positivity going on here. The Hilltop Arts Collective is a part of that. This festival has been around for eight years. It has always created a positive environment. Neighbors being able to meet each other. Bring in local artists. Bring in local venders. Bring in local food trucks. So, they can contribute to the positivity of the Hilltop.
As a person of color, why volunteer?
I am a board member for Hilltop Arts Collective. I am the chair of the Outreach and Community Engagement committee. I have been a west sider for over 30 years. I participated in this festival in 2019 as a vendor, as a community partner. I noticed there were not a lot of diversity. I could not be the diversity professional that I am and not become involved in my own back yard. I reached out to Hilltop Arts Collective and the president reached back out to me. We have done a lot of improvements. We have a lot more diversity at this festival.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think I should have asked you? If so, go ahead and answer that question.
What does the future of Hilltop Arts Collective look like?
It is a continuation of growing and engaging community. Engaging inclusivity in our events in our opportunities. Also engaging more volunteers. This is a total volunteer organization. No one gets paid. If there are diverse people that want to become involved in the Hilltop Arts Collective, reach out to us through social media. I am also responsible for getting volunteers. I welcome the help.
My Take Summer Jam West 2022:
I have fond memories of Westgate Park. As a youth, my dad taught me how to play tennis there many years ago. Since my grandparents lived in the area, on occasion, I would rain down jumpers at the basketball court while my uncle Byron attempted to guard me. I love the vibe of the festival. I love the festival, because in my view, it is planned around live art.