Ohio invests in the arts


By Marilyn Delk


Ohio has always been a leader among states in efforts to support and expand the arts. The Ohio Arts Council, created in 1965 “to foster and encourage the development of the arts and assist the preservation of Ohio’s cultural heritage,” has led the nation in its work to fulfill that lofty mission ever since its founding. For decades, Darke County Center for the Arts has benefitted from the work and support of OAC, in part by earning grants which enable the local arts organization to present outstanding artists whose fees would be beyond DCCA’s means without that assistance.

This year is no exception to that happy norm, with DCCA receiving $10,860 for operating support and $12,764 to help fund artists’ fees for Chris Shutters, headliner of DCCA’s recent Barbecue and Blues, as well as the highly anticipated Artists Series season-ending concert by Toledo Symphony Orchestra. OAC funds also will support international award-winning magician David Anthony’s comedic show as well as scientist Mr. C, who utilizes hair-raising experiments to help students grasp difficult science concepts.

But that is not all of the OAC financial support benefitting Darke County! The much-loved Illumination Festival was granted $3,526 from OAC’s ArtSTART program for newer organizations, while the agency’s ArtsNEXT funds assisting innovative projects of all kinds awarded $16,292 to Main Street Greenville’s Mural Project, which will soon see art installations in downtown Greenville.

This local bounty is but a small portion of our state’s record-setting appropriation of $51,065,000 for the Ohio Arts Council’s 2024-2025 operating budget, including the $21.8 million designated to fund 907 grant awards. OAC is, of course, thrilled by the support of the Ohio House of Representatives, the Ohio Senate, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and Governor Mike DeWine, and their continued enthusiasm for public funding of the arts, an investment which also inspires and motivates Ohio artists and arts presenters.

The Ohio Arts Council Board consists of 15 voting members appointed by the Governor and four non-voting members who represent the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives; this esteemed group decides which funding requests get approved. Our community is fortunate to have one of our local citizens serving as a member of the OAC Board; Greenville resident and very busy “retired” educator Darryl Mehaffie has served as our thoughtful representative for the past several years, advocating for arts programs and projects benefitting our “underserved rural area.”

Research shows that the arts and arts education cultivate imaginative thinking, empowering problem-solving and innovation, and preparing children with skills needed for the global workforce. The arts play a central role in economic development and job creation in Ohio. In addition to anchoring communities, the arts and cultural industries are fast-growing dynamic clusters aiding the growth of other businesses. Public support of the arts provides an important tool helping create a better tomorrow for all Ohioans. The strength of Ohio’s arts support also serves as one of the state’s greatest attractions for talent and new businesses, contributing to economic competitiveness and recovery across the state.

Ohioans strongly support their tax dollars being invested in the arts, with over 90% of those surveyed stating their belief in using public funds to support the arts. The arts connect people across socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic lines, and are central to the vitality of communities and the state. Large majorities of the populace feel that the arts improve their personal well-being, giving “pure pleasure to experience and participate in,” as well as provide meaning to their lives, offering “a positive experience in a troubled world.”

Our community is justly proud and supportive of the diverse arts activities available here. As Darke County Center for the Arts gears up for a new season of presentations, that community support and the assistance provided by the Ohio Arts Council are essential components of the local arts organization’s continuing success.

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