The Ohio Arts Council, our state agency that funds and supports the arts, strengthening Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically, is acutely aware that current health concerns present unique challenges which directly impact artists and arts organizations. A recent communication from OAC Executive Director Donna Collins assures that as our elected officials make tough and important decisions about public health, they are also thinking about the arts sector. “They understand the arts as a convenor of people, they understand that arts venues are economic drivers, and they realize that more than 290,000 Ohioans work in or get support from the creative sector,” Ms. Collins wrote.
Darke County Center for the Arts Executive Director Andrea Jordan reports that the Ohio Arts Council has requested that the final reports required following completion of OAC-funded events be submitted now rather than the usual late summer deadline so that the agency can move forward with allotting funds to artists and organizations trying to make ends meet in spite of cancellations and postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrea also says that her organization’s economic situation is currently stable, at least until DCCA moves forward into the unknown with the new season.) This action by the OAC is typical of their work to do everything possible to provide leadership so that the arts can continue to transform people and inspire communities.
“Artists provide us the ability to examine the world, to find clarity, appreciation, and possibility. Ohio is a more vibrant, rich, and dynamic place to live, work and be educated because of artists,” OAC Executive Director Collins explains. In recognition of this truth, the Ohio Arts Council annually hosts a gala luncheon celebrating the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, honoring those Ohioans who have strongly and uniquely impacted the arts. Past recipients of the Governor’s Award include Bradford-area resident John Scalzi, an inventive author whose fiction has also earned national literary awards, and arts supporters and benefactors Jim and Enid Goubeaux, who were residents of Greenville prior to moving to Chicago where Jim died earlier this year.
Although this year’s celebration has been postponed from its usual March date, award winners were announced and include Andy Snow, a photographer who lives in Dayton and whose body of work has appeared in national publications such as Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The New York Times, as well as locally. In addition to the expected accolades regarding the beauty of his iconic work, supporters of Andy Snow’s nomination recognized that his photography “captures our stories.” The award winner himself gives credit for this award honoring his work to the fact that “when it comes to photographing our community’s rich and ever changing environment, there’s joy all around.”
To my mind, those two truths pretty much sum up what artists do. They communicate the joy around us by capturing our stories. Visual artists have, since the beginning of time, depicted stories—on cave walls, on ancient vases, in paintings, sometimes capturing a moment in time, narrating a story, or documenting momentous events in ways that move and inform us. Through melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that speak to the listener, musical artists express emotions evoking memories, inspiring hopes and dreams, reinforcing feelings of joy or pain.
Andy Snow is especially admired for his ability to capture dancers as they “hit the apex of a leap;” a feat he accomplished with aplomb in a photo taken of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s “Flight.” commemorating the Wright Brothers first flight. In this image where three white-clad male dancers appear to be suspended in air while holding dynamic poses, a sense of motion is captured and communicated. Snow describes photographing a live performance thusly: “My heart beats faster and I am filled with joy and wonder, my brain on fire with the fun and the challenge.” Joy and wonder, fun and challenge; that’s what the arts bring to our lives, qualities always appreciated, but especially while we live with the uncertainties of our present time.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.