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Measuring the Impact: Arts Impact Ohio 2016

Measuring the Impact: Arts Impact Ohio 2016

How do we measure and illustrate the impact of arts experiences? 

That is the question we posed to nearly 200 arts administrators, educators, artists, and other peers at the 2016 Arts Impact Ohio conference on May 19. We came together to find the answers, share stories and lessons learned, and develop a roadmap for future success. 

Kevin Smalley, a graphic illustrator from northeast Ohio, observed each session and absorbed common threads throughout the day. The result is a vibrant portrait of what participants shared. Do you see yourself? A quote from a session you attended? A spark from a discussion?

arts impact illustration 2 arts impact illustration 3 arts impact illustration 4

When asked how likely participants would be to recommend the OAC's next professional development opportunity to a friend or colleague, 87% responded with very or extremely likely. A majority of survey respondents said participating in Arts Impact Ohio will help increase the impact of their work and allowed them to connect with colleagues across the state. Other outcomes include gaining more confidence in their role and having time outside the office to think about big picture issues. Survey data is a great way to determine next steps and our favorite part is hearing what the field has to say.

"I think the experience reinforced what I already know and gave me the inspiration to set some action steps to help shape my program(s)."

"Hearing from Shari, Liz, and Nancy in the Connecting Cuyahoga County session made collaborating seem less scary. That may seem silly, but approaching another larger arts organization or, even scarier, a for-profit business, hospital, school, etc. is really intimidating. Almost like asking someone on a date. They provided organic examples of how mutually beneficial partnerships began, and a lot of it had to do with being active and present in the community, nothing too scary at all. This simple notion made me want to go out and talk to people rather than worry about producing a big, long scary cold call proposal.

"The Creative Aging session was excellent! Relevant, timely, outcome-driven, and utterly worthwhile. Thank you for bringing Greg Finch to Columbus to present at the conference."

Arts Impact Ohio focused on methods to illustrate the profound impact of the arts. When we asked: What, if anything, was personally meaningful for you about today's conference? Participants shared earnest examples.

"It helped me clarify my (ever-changing!) goals — my prism grabbed the light and focused. I loved the frank talk about business!" 

"Having a better understanding of how systems work and how to work with them (combined with Christy's persuasion presentation) gives me a lot more confidence about things I am already doing and thinking about in the future. Knowledge is Power."

"I was very touched by a game that was played in the teaching artist workshop. It was both fun and emotional for everyone. That reminded me of how much I love what I do as an artist and how it can impact everyone."

"Collaboration. Generational discussions were really exciting, knowing that many are on the same page, so to bring those to a multi-generational table would really pump things up moving forward."

"It was so refreshing to see/hear how others are passionate about the arts and understand its value to our communities and economy!"

Presentations from Arts Impact Ohio sessions are available online via the Thought Leaders page. We will continue to check-in on action steps and impact stories throughout the year. Have something to share? Contact the OAC at

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