Why the arts matter


By Marilyn Delk


This column’s subject line is the title of an Ohio Arts Council report stating the economic impact of arts and culture to our state. The arts sector is responsible for over 158,0000 jobs offering $11 billion in compensation to those workers; overall, the arts provide almost $24 billion dollars to our state’s gross domestic product total! Nationally, 4.85 million jobs contribute over $1 trillion to the economy.

Ohio continues to be a leader among the states in providing financial support to art projects and artists; this essential support is provided through the Ohio Arts Council, whose stated mission is “to help preserve the state’s cultural heritage and encourage the development of the arts in communities around the state through funding to artists and arts organizations.” Our community has received much such support for the arts through the years, most recently benefitting from OAC funding to help underwrite the local mural project. The ongoing project has already produced delightful additions to downtown Greenville—two colorful murals which were preceeded by eye-catching utility box covers designed by Greenville High school students—with more to come.

Past OAC funds have been granted to Mississinawa Valley art instructor Ashley Austerman, whose uniqueachievements have been chronicled in this column. Ashley has taken on large community projects, collaborating with resident artists who work with students to achieve impressive results. As part of the notable highly successful efforts,collaborative artist Timothy Wells was brought in to help students create a stunning mural that currently enhances a Union City viaduct; this residency led to the creation of a photography curriculum at Mississinawa, as well as immersive artistic experience for young residents of our rural community without the opportunity for much previous exposure to such creative achievement.

Additionally, visiting artist Timothy Wells remains very much involved with the arts in our community to this day; in addition to additional time spent working with Ashley and her students, he has contributed to other area artistic projects, including the Greenville murals. His delightful abilities inspire creativity in those with whom he works, enhancing amazing imaginative progress on projects fortunate to receive his attention.

Darke County Center for the Arts has benefitted from OAC and its services almost since the local arts organization’sbeginning; funds provided by the council have made possible presentation of outstanding artists that would be beyond the reach of DCCA’s budget were it not for the financial assistance granted by the state agency. Ultimately, benefits extend to a broad audience, including students in all grades of every local school who are annually treated to memorable entertaining educational experiences at no charge to the students. Additionally, audiences of all ages enjoy outstanding artists fulfilling their dreams of making a living by sharing their inherent talents in performances at intimate venues or in events held within the impressive grandeur of Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall.

The joy and inspiration provided to the human spirit by exposure to and involvement in the arts is truly unmeasureable; however, the monetary value ascribed to this essential of life offers a glimpse of the worth of the arts. The arts matter because of their impact on the lives of people; this truth has existed since the beginning of time and will continue into the foreseeable future. The Ohio Arts Council provides leadership and a voice for the arts, not only fulfilling the stated vision of the agency, but also transforming people and communities through their continuing commitment to encourage development of the arts and preserve our cultural heritage.

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