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A collage of photos of Ohio Arts Council staff, fellows, and contractors wearing face masks.

I’ll Take the Snapshot Every Single Time

I was thinking about snapshots this week. (Remember those things we took with a camerabefore our phones became the camera?) Snapshots of children on their first day of school. Snapshots of senior parent night for the marching band. Snapshots of vacation, families standing outside the museum or the State Fair entrance.

When I was a kid we used a Polaroid to capture those special snapshots. My memories are countlessblowing out the candles on a birthday cake; welcoming the arrival of family from Appalachia; and posing together for big, joyous pictures. Even then, it struck me that those snapshots could be capturing some final momentsthe last opportunity for hugs with aging grandparents, or that time my childhood best friend was moving to a new town. We hugged each other forever as my dad took the Polaroid picture. We’re still caught up in an eternal hug in that snapshot.

A collage of photos of Ohio Arts Council staff members, fellows, and contractors wearing face masks.This past weekend, I reflected on what the snapshots of 2020 might be. Pictures on our phones seem so disposable now, so intangible and hard to access when technology changes. Do we just lose them, stuck in someone’s broken smartphone, or off in “the cloud” somewhere? Do we care enough to retrieve them, especially in this incredibly hard year? What joy remains? Will anyone be able, in the year 2040, to find a box of snapshots in the corner of the closet, hiding under a tattered quilt or the old boots that should have gone to the cobbler decades before?

I know one thing for sure. When we look back, what we will find are images and sounds by the artists, makers, and creatives among us. Yes, times are hardvery hardbut I stand ready to defend the arts to my dying breath, and I know many of you are doing the same! Right here in Ohio we have arts leaders who are beating the odds; artists who are finding new ways to deliver their creative content; development teams who are creating new streams of revenue through innovative trial-and-error; board leaders and patrons who are stepping up and supporting in ways that are unprecedented; audience members who are donating to support free streaming content without being asked; and volunteers who are helping in unsung ways.

At the Ohio Arts Council, we must recognize state support and funding from Governor Mike DeWine and the legislators serving in the Ohio General Assembly. Without these funds and this continued support, the OAC could not be as strong and resilient on behalf of the arts. The OAC has worked with Ohio’s elected leaders for 55 yearsand they have rarely let us down. We always come back, and that has never been more true than the current bienniumeven after a decrease in our budget, we continue to fund the arts at near historic highs. The arts are important to Ohioansto our economy, to education, and to our communities. We have spent decades “making the case for the arts” to spread awareness of this basic truth, and I can assure you that our state elected leaders have not forgotten this.

There is certainly more to do to ensure the arts heal from the many wounds of 2020. At the federal level especially, we need funding to support our arts organizations who have been shuttered for seven months, we need funding to get our artists and musicians back to work, and we need resources to work in the new normal to make our facilities safe and welcoming. We need confidence that audiences will return and that our futures are bright and viable.

As I share with you time and time again, you are the best arts advocates because you have authentic stories to telland your stories bear repeating. Your genuine voices and your positive, forward-thinking attitudes foster this exchange of information and ideas. Being solutions-oriented produces cooperation and collaboration.

I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and say thank you for the funding through the Ohio Arts Council. When you do, you can also provide the facts about your situation and your needs to survive and thrive in a proud and strong Ohio.

I hope you’ll think about the snapshots of days gone by, the snapshots of today, and the stories we will tell on the other side of the pandemic. Let’s be sure we’re making memories, doing good for the arts sector, and imitating the very best snapshot in your memory. And remember, the arts are always stronger when we work together!

Until next time,

Donna S. Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

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