Columbus, Ohio USA
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New Face at the Short North Alliance
Melanie Kortyka will orchestrate events for the arts district
By Margaret Marten
May/June 2014 Issue

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Melanie Kortyka Photo Darren Carlson

The Short North Arts District attracts a lot of attention but it also requires a lot of attention, care and maintenance in order to ensure that visitors have a positive experience and enjoy themselves. That means keeping the place safe, clean, attractive and accessible. Public events like the Gallery Hop, HighBall Halloween, the Annual Gala, and other major attractions require imagination and expertise from organizers in order to keep the events functioning and fresh. Coordinating these events will be among the reponsibilities of the Short North Alliance’s new Events and Special Projects Coordinator Melanie Kortyka.

The Short North Alliance, located at 21 E. Fifth Ave., is a non-profit organization that has been around in one form or another for decades helping to promote the district’s businesses and art. Working to fulfill those responsibilities requires a team effort. Kortyka joins two other SNA staff members under the direction of Betsy Pandora: Dana Cox, marketing and communications manager, and Sylvia Totzke, visitor relations coordinator. In addition, a team of four ambassadors can be seen daily along the Short North corridor on patrols, servicing, and responding to the needs of visitors and businesses.

Kortyka, 23, began her position in March. She previously worked as a Healthy Places assistant at Columbus Public Health. The year-long internship at CPH with the Healthy Places Program focused on promoting the Columbus Art Walks which provide self-guided walking tours aided by maps and audio descriptions of interesting public art, architecture and cultural landmarks. Her work there gave her the opportunity to attend Gallery Hops as a representative of Art Walks, passing out maps and promotional literature. Consequently, she developed a working relationship with the SNA (formerly named Short North Business Association), so when she learned about the open position at the SNA, she was very interested.

“It was a really exciting time for me when I was applying for the job,” said Kortyka. “It was a great opportunity to see what they did and learn more about what is now the Short North Alliance.”

Kortyka studied at The Ohio State University, earning a degree in City and Regional Planning and Geography and holds a certificate as a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) from Experience Columbus. She also worked as a research associate for Community Research Partners and as a neighborhood planning assistant with the City of Columbus Department of Development. She is a graduate of St. Joseph Academy in Cleveland.

While growing up in Amherst, Ohio, with her father, a computer engineer, and social worker mother, and one sibling, Lindsey, Kortyka studied the flute, knitting and quilting – and even learned cake decorating. She says she always loved to paint and that music and art are something very close to her. “When I see these performers out on the street during Gallery Hop,” she said, “I appreciate what they’re doing just because I am very familiar with what it’s like being in a band and an orchestra and playing a musical instrument. It’s just fun for me to see people being so passionate about that.”

The demands of adult life have kept Kortyka from turning much attention to hobbies like knitting and playing the flute, but she does find time to paint and bake and walk her two dogs, Rowan and Reina, in Goodale Park every day, and she loves bicycling.

Attention to her new job and organizing the Short North Gala, held on May 4, may be all the excitement she needs for now. “It’s just such a wonderful experience,” she said. “Jumping into my first Gallery Hop was so great. There’s so many people out, which is amazing to see.” Coordinating the recent gala, which honored members of the Short North community, allowed her to quickly establish relationships with a large number of active community members.

“She is a great addition to our team,” said executive director Betsy Pandora. “We can’t wait to leverage her incredible organizational skills and research background in many unique ways to benefit the Short North Arts District. I know the community will thoroughly enjoy working with her.”

Learn more about the Short North Alliance by visiting www.shortnorth.org

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