Organizers and performing artists of the Cloud City Festival pose for a group photo. Credit: Courtesy of Cassie Young

“What if a city was built by artists?”

That’s the question a group of local artists asked when they formed their new festival, kicking off this week. Cloud City is a festival funded and organized by a diverse circle of artists who have put their resources, efforts and passions behind current local artists and entrepreneurs in hopes of building a community that empowers all underground artists, according to the Cloud City website.

Cloud City festival will feature multi-genre music performances, fashion, art, local films, podcasts, arcade gaming systems, photo studios, massage therapists and a comedy club Saturday.

Cassie Young, founder of the festival and Ohio State alumna, said the festival is expected to sell a minimum of 750 tickets

Young said the festival is about maximizing the freedom of self-expression for all artists through a community-driven event.

The festival will mirror an actual city, with districts representing the different disciplines of art. Everyone attending is encouraged to bring their own props and artwork as an opportunity to contribute to this city, Young said.

“I wanted to make a space for people to come in and run parts of the city,” Young said. “We wanted to highlight the best things going on in Columbus.”

According to its website, Cloud City is about giving a platform to artists and topics that may be left out of arts events and incorporating them in ways that reflect actual city.

In addition to performances by local artists, there will be a portable studio for people to talk about the development of Columbus, including what they would like to see in the future, talks about gentrification and different activities for mental health such as yoga and meditation, Young said.

The Cloud City festival is also incorporating a way for people in attendance to nominate someone they know — through an online form — who is actively working to advance the culture and bring people together. The six candidates with the most nominations will be on a ballot the day of the event and each person who attends will get one vote to elect a Cloud City Mayor, according to Cloud City’s website.

Young and her co-founders, Sam Rothstein, head of music and film, and Isaiah Boyd, head of marketing and creative direction, began planning the event eight months ago, with the help of other local artists. They said they wanted to create a festival that is different from others in Columbus.

According to Cloud City’s website, the majority of people involved in planning the event are artists performing at the festival.

“We’re really trying to give artists attending a platform to know about all these different creatives and entrepreneurs in the city,” Boyd said.

Young said she felt a disconnect between local artists and hopes this event will create a platform for people to network and connect with new people.

The Cloud City Arts Festival starts Saturday at 2 p.m. at 400 West Rich. Tickets are $20, with an afterparty at Skully’s Music-Diner for an additional $5.