Denisonians are passionate about the arts and make significant contributions in their communities. A recent event by the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) spotlighted two members of the Denison University family, Sara Abou Rashed ’21 and Andrew Levitt ’01, as well as Denison Artist-in-Residence Available Light Theatre.
Known for his performance art as Nina West, Levitt uses his platform to focus on issues that affect the LGBTQ population. He has been recognized for raising more than $2 million for philanthropy through the Nina West Fund at The Columbus Foundation, which he founded 16 years ago. At the GCAC event, Levitt was honored as an “Emerging Arts Leader” nominee.
Through the Nina West Fund Levitt has supported a variety of projects, including sending an LGBT family and their sick child to Disney World through Make-A-Wish, and giving to the Kaleidoscope Youth Center to provide a space for queer kids to stay after school.
A refugee from Syria who calls Columbus her home, Rashed presented her poem “I am America” to the GCAC audience. Rashed, who spoke no English until she came to the United States four years ago, also presented at the Ohio Women’s Leadership Summit in Columbus in September.
The Available Light Theatre (AVLT), a Denison Artist-in-Residence, holds theatre-making workshops and mentors student artists. AVLT was nominated at the event for its Columbus Voices Workshop/Performances, a travelling open house performance that incorporated interviews of more than 150 central Ohioans, 40 performers and a dozen artists.
“The arts are so important to learning,” said Michael Morris, director of fine arts programming at Denison. “They help us transcend background and culture to get a deep understanding of how others think and feel. Arts experiences are terrific bridges to build relationships. We need them even more today. We’re thrilled that the GCAC recognizes these Denisonians’ contributions.”