The Fuse Factory finds a new home at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center

Following a soft opening this week, the electronic and digital arts lab will officially celebrate a move to its new digs with an in-person Frequency Friday event on April 1

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
A still from a March 2022 Fuse Factory livestream

In the months prior to the pandemic, the Fuse Factory, which had been operating out of It Looks Like It’s Open, started to explore the idea of moving, having outgrown the cozy Clintonville space.

Around that same time, in late 2019, Fuse Factory hosted the first of two Frequency Friday events at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center (CAC), which led to a January 2020 conversation between the two organizations.

“I met with Geoff Martin, who is the head of the CAC, and it came up where I told him we were putting out feelers for a new space,” said Fuse Factory founder and executive director Alison Colman. “And then he mentioned, ‘Oh, well, we’re looking to expand our audiences and get back to our early days,’ because in its earlier days the Cultural Arts Center included music in its programming as well as visual arts."

According to Colman, Martin expressed a desire for CAC to reconnect with its original mission, opening the space up to more music, in addition to partnering with smaller organizations within the city. "And then he asked, ‘What are your thoughts about moving here? Is this something you would consider?’" Colman said. "And I basically said yes.”

With mutual interest established, the conversations continued through the early months of COVID-19, Fuse Factory ensuring that any agreement would allow it to not only continue standards it had established in recent years at It Looks Like It’s Open, but to grow in ways it had intended since Colman founded the electronic and digital arts incubator at now-defunct Junctionview Studios in 2006. (Following Junctionview's closure, Fuse Factory spent time at the former Wild Goose Creative in Old North before relocating to It Looks Like It’s Open in 2014.)

Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter

In addition to a larger event space, which will allow for increased social distancing among patrons — a pandemic-era bonus for any arts organization — the Cultural Arts Center also offers Fuse Factory improved sound and lighting, fully equipped classrooms for hosting workshops, and the potential to develop regular summer programming for kids.

The partnership also grants Fuse Factory access to the Performing Arts Center for large-scale events, the first of which, dubbed the Frequency Festival, will take place May 20-21. Colman said both nights of the fest, funded in part by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, will feature local experimental electronic musicians paired with filmmakers and artists, collaborations intended to create a sonically and visually immersive experience for attendees.

“There’s a lot of space for us to grow, and a lot of opportunity to grow our programming in ways that we couldn’t before,” Colman said. 

Fuse Factory will usher in its new space with a soft opening on Friday, March 18, featuring music from Attorneys General, Jeanne Vomit-Terror and Keith Hanlon. Two weeks later, on April 1, Fuse Factory hosts what Colman dubbed “our first big event back" with the return to an in-person Frequency Friday. 

When the pandemic hit, Fuse Factory, like many businesses and organizations, successfully pivoted to an online model, which enabled it to continue its usual programming in the form of livestreams, in addition to giving performers new opportunities to stretch themselves artistically. “We have quite a number of artists who didn’t do much with regard to visual accompaniments before the pandemic,” Colman said. “And it was great, because they really got into the visuals for the livestreams, creating some fairly elaborate visual storytelling to go along with the sound.”

Despite these virtual artistic advances, Colman said she is looking forward to seeing audiences reconnect with music live in a room following a couple of years that many spent in relative seclusion. “Over that period of time, I think some of our audience members were feeling cut off in general,” Colman said. “I think everyone’s ready to get back to live shows, for sure. … We’re happy. We’re all looking forward to a little normalcy and seeing friends and seeing the community we’ve built. We’ve missed everyone.”