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Guest Post: Spring Forward with the Ohio Arts Council

sarah_lindsey_toldeo

by Sarah Lindsey, Special Projects Coordinator—Toledo Museum of Art 

Recently I was taking a moment to reflect on a wonderful series of events and opportunities the Ohio Arts Council made available this spring; which began for me with the Sustainability category panel review in April 2015 and culminated in having the opportunity to hear the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts speak at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I am relatively new to the arts profession and even more so to grant writing (with three years experience). So needless to say I have been seeking any and every opportunity to learn from others how to refine my narratives, overall tone, and presentation of information—along with meeting some amazing, inspiring people along the way. 

Everyone has experienced at some point that dreaded feeling of walking into a room, not entirely sure if you are in the right location, and trying to find an empty spot in the back! When I went to the panel review, there were only empty spots. As the panel review day went on and I was scribbling frantically to capture every ounce of feedback the panel reviewers were providing on each organization’s application (40 in total), I was astonished how few individuals took advantage of the professional development opportunity the OAC provided; and I should mention, free of cost. And, yes, for me too the review was professional development.

As I noticed sitting in the chairs for over eight hours listening to these experts in their own fields discuss each application, they went into depth on the prose that was used, the compilation of materials, use and ease of supplemental materials, financial data captured in the Cultural Data Project, and community engagement. And I also experienced the physical dialogue that transpired between panelists, which I fear would have been lost by only tuning into the live streaming event on the internet. 

By attending the whole day event, and not just tuning into my application, this process allowed me to see trends in the comments, suggestions, and overall approach that in effect will improve my ability to capture a reader’s attention in the future. 

Then fast forwarding to May, the Cleveland Museum of Art hosted the Ohio Arts Council and Chairman Jane Chu of the NEA in a conversation about the arts. It’s unique and inspiring to see how each one of us, whatever our personal reason for supporting the arts, has a common ground for understanding how important art is for humanity. It has the potential to convey and evoke an emotion, meaning, idea, and create a moment of sheer wonder.

Having the opportunity to hear Chairman Chu speak and share her own life’s experience with art. As she said: it is about understanding the impact the arts have on our lives, how they enrich our lives with meaning. The arts reach millions of people. The conversation that the public was invited to attend opened up an understanding, a common ground, for why we are all fighting for the importance and success of the arts in our communities.
These events have been thought provoking in multiple regards, not solely for feedback on proposal writing, but the larger context of the importance of the arts and encouraging participation in the conversations that are shaping our communities. After attending a few of the spring events the Ohio Arts Council planned, I can now firmly say the OAC is an invaluable resource for the community.

A lot of things are changing and leading the arts in Ohio, and the Ohio Arts Council is a key one of them. I encourage you to attend these events in the future, most specifically the open panel reviews if you are ever afforded the opportunity, but whatever your scheduled permits, trust me you will not be disappointed!



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