How we began
Throughout our history, we’ve worked toward a single purpose: Build a creative community at the intersection of art, risk, and meaning. For more than ten years, our organization has seen always supporting the local arts community, gathering place for local artists, audiences, and creative people. Since our founding, the unwavering dedication of our board members and supporters helped our mission come to life. We wouldn’t be who we are today without the generous grants from the Columbus Foundation, The Ohio Arts Council, and The Greater Columbus Arts Council, United Way of Central Ohio and the Coalition for a Non-Violent Columbus.
Married couples Beth and Nick Dekker, Jessie and Karl Boettcher and Jacqui and Ryan Hoke, all graduates of the undergrad theater program at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched Wild Goose Creative in late 2006. Its philosophies coalesced following those four years of undergrad, graduate school and a little bit of growing up. Wild Goose held its first events in early 2007.
As Wild Goose Creative grew, the founders not only added board members but eventually found themselves, out of necessity, stepping back their hands-on involvement. Families and full-time jobs can get in the way of volunteering to operate an arts organization, in particular, one as event-heavy as Wild Goose. Jessie Boettcher still serves on the board, and Karl Boettcher is still involved in Speakeasy, a monthly spoken-word program. “When we left, it felt like we had succeeded in what we set out to do,” Karl Boettcher said.
The founders shared a consensus that not only was it time in their lives to step away from being hands-on at Wild Goose but that a new generation of leadership (“Wild Goose 3.0”) was ready to move the organization forward, making the decision easier.
The current board is made up of a really terrific group of people with a lot of different skills. (Know More) Meanwhile, it is important to think people are made to feel welcome and made to feel like, if they have an idea, it could work at Wild Goose.
“To be able to explain it to people, we needed to call it something besides ‘the project’ or ‘the company,’” Beth Dekker said. “We wanted something that we felt was visually appealing, that was a good website and that described us both specifically and broadly, so it was this impossible thing.”
A lengthy list of working names included lots of nature imagery and lots of Celtic influence. Wild Goose finally became a serious option as the founders considered the symbolism. “We liked the idea that the process was more important than the result, like a wild goose chase,” Nick Dekker said.
“We looked up geese and we learned things like geese share leadership and they mate for life. We loved the symbolism,” Ryan Hoke said.
Location and Space
After both Dekkers were accepted to graduate programs at Ohio State University, it became clear that Central Ohio would be the eventual destination for the would-be founders. Wild Goose had rented space at the Shanahan School of Irish Dance on Indianola Avenue (the current location of Eat Purr Love Cat Café) and had drawn significant audiences, providing confidence as it pursued a permanent home.
Nick Dekker said he would catch the bus on Summit Street and was familiar with space there that had been a country music bar. When the landlord subdivided the space, it became affordable to the emerging arts organization. “It was Wild Goose 2.0,” Nick Dekker said.
Everything was both an art and a social gathering.
For an audience of eight or nine, in addition to the three founding couples, playwright/actress Christina Ritter performed a one-woman play in the first-ever Wild Goose Creative event. Then, Wild Goose moved quickly into a series of “works in progress” events that featured food, art, and Q&A sessions. Artists are invited to share something they were working on, to try and give people a close encounter with art,” Jessie Boettcher said. “It was about seeing the process and conversation.”
Nowadays, with a multipurpose creative space at 2491 Summit Street that is sometimes a gallery, sometimes a school, a kitchen table, a living room, a concert hall, or a dance floor, Wild Goose Creative cultivates the creation of excellent and surprising art. (Know More)