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Meet the Staff: Jarred Small

Meet the Staff: Jarred Small, Arts Learning Coordinator

When he’s not reading The New Yorker or biking to work, the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Jarred Small is traveling from Honduras to New York City and back again. He once considered making a career out of playing the shawm (a medieval woodwind instrument), but he now serves as the OAC’s newest Arts Learning Coordinator.

Q. How did you get started in the arts world?Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Coordinator Jarred Small
I got my start as a music educator in the schools of southwest Michigan, teaching band, orchestra, choir, guitar…  all that good stuff. After doing that for a bit, I discovered arts administration and arts management, and I thought that it was a very compelling, worthwhile calling.  I decided to go to The Ohio State University and get a graduate degree in art administration.

 After that, I found myself in the consulting business, where I spent a couple years in New York and Washington, D.C., doing arts management consulting. It was a lot of strategic plan writing, capital campaign fundraising, and program management for a variety of organizations from very small dance companies all the way up to major museums.

 A lot of my experience has been in the consulting world, so I’ve married the ideas of program management and education into this nifty position here as Arts Learning Coordinator. I get to use my background and passion for making a big difference in education and in the lives of children and communities. It’s been a great opportunity for me professionally and personally to really grow.

Q. What does it mean to be a part of the OAC?
I really think of it as an honorable duty. To bring the arts and arts education to Ohio’s most disadvantaged communities and to communities throughout the state in all their diverse forms is an exciting challenge for me.

Continually, the leadership and the staff here have really gone above and beyond to support the arts throughout the state. From thinking in new ways to thinking of bigger and better programming and projects, asking, “How can we really reach all corners of the state to give them something that we know will be beneficial to the students, community, administration, and the various schools?” I take it as a personal challenge, but it’s one that I am really looking forward to tackling with our whole team here.

Q. What do you like to do outside of the office?
I guess you can tie my professional and personal life together. I’m a musician, and I got my start in music. I really enjoy performing, attending live concerts, and enjoying live music in general. My training has always been in the classical world, so I played the violin, oboe, keyboard, piano, and I got my start on saxophone in elementary school. So, I perform in orchestras, community bands, and occasional gigging if the opportunity presents itself. But it’s all in good fun—it’s something I’ve always done and something that’s a part of me.

Outside of the arts, I’m a big traveler. I love travelling around the country. I had a lot of wonderful experiences teaching in Honduras, and my master’s thesis was on the arts in Chile.  I’ve got this bug in me to get out and see the world and discover what the arts community is doing.

I like keeping active. I’m known here as the guy who bikes to work, but that might change with the cold weather. I do a bit of running and I’m always looking for my next running trail.

Jarred SmallQ. What are you most proud of in your personal or professional life so far?
I think really being able to come in and do what I love every day. I’ve found a career where I get to work with some of the most dedicated people on the face of the Earth—and some of the most amazing organizations—and to be able to help support something I believe in. I think that’s what I’m most proud of.  

I’m happy to say it’s been an ongoing theme in my career of doing things with people and organizations who I truly believe in and who I think are doing important things. It’s not one particular moment or item, but it’s this collective mentality. I’m proud of the journey.

Q. What does art mean to you?
Art, to me, really offers a variable means to connect and share with others. It helps to connect our common bonds, and it allows us to really see others as they want to be seen. I’m sure everyone can point to one event in their life, art or otherwise, where you take a step back and look at humanity and think, “We’re all just one being trying to get through this complicated, complex series of life events.”

 Art is a vehicle to unravel or dismantle the confusion of the daily grind. I really think of art as a way to connect with other people. Arts education in particular plays a really deep role in that—it really exposes children and adults to understanding and becoming more knowledgeable about the world around them.

It’s also a vehicle just to express yourself. You don’t get a chance to do that very often. I can point to a few different points in my life where I got the feeling that, outside of these walls, life itself is so small and the bigger picture is really what matters. Art is what helps, for me, to really focus on that bigger picture, and education is one of the top ways to do such a thing. That’s why I really believe in arts education. It’s one of the best things we can do as artists and educators to understand what the bigger picture of life is.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Kayla Draper, 2017-18  Social Media and Events Fellow
Photos courtesy of Jarred Small

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