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Ohio Arts Council staff photo. Staff members are holding signs that read: The arts in Ohio are better when we work together! Love, the Ohio Arts Council

No Place Like Home: A Thank You to Ohio's Arts Leaders

Ohio Arts Council staff photo. Staff members are holding signs that read: The arts in Ohio are better when we work together! Love, the Ohio Arts Council

I’m reflecting today on Ohio’s arts leaders after reading a passage from C. JoyBell C., an author and poet. She once wrote:

“The problem when you are a strong, capable, self-confident person, is that more often than not, people think that you don't really need things like comfort, reassurance, loyalty, and guidance. People are more likely to look at you and say, ‘She doesn't need this,’ ‘She doesn't need that,’ ‘She's already all of this and all of that.’ And the truth is that most probably, you are a strong, capable, self-confident person because you built yourself brick-by-brick into that person; because you HAD to BECOME that person; because you had determination enough to make yourself into the image that you knew you needed to become. At the heart of many strong, confident people, is a heart most longing of the things that most others simply take for granted.”

When I read this quote, my mind went to the hundreds of arts leaders I’ve been talking with over the last few months. These are strong, smart, innovative leaders who, like the Ohio Arts Council, are forward-thinking and people-focused. And, like all of us, they are living in uncertain times.

Let me share with you this: We are all in this together. We are fully aware of the scarcities and sacrifices you face, and the unknowns you continue to play over and over in your mind. But we also know that our artists, our arts and cultural leaders, and our teaching artists are simply amazing. We have confidence in you.

I’m reminded that arts leaders in Ohio have seen tough times before, and we have risen over every obstacle in our way and found solutions. One day we’ll reflect on today’s challenges and know that our collective innovation and determination created opportunities we would not have had otherwise. Thank you to the innovators and risk-takers in the arts sector. We need you, and we are not taking you for granted.

As Ohio begins to reopen, I know that many of our arts organizations who offer summer camps are thrilled, and our dance companies are ecstatic to open their doors. Others continue to wait as they make additional preparations or adhere to restrictions still in place. Theatres, museums, galleries, and performance venues are working together with local, state, and national entities to prepare for the day they can also safely reopen. Collaboration abounds, more than I’ve ever seen, and it is because we have a host of brilliant and innovative arts leaders in our state willing and able to tackle complex issues.

Last week I read an article by Christopher Purdy about choirs, and it struck me when he said, “… common sense puts the communal health over the communal heart.” And, Kellie Walsh, a choral leader contributing to the article shared that, “If choir is about teaching and learning, growing, connecting, community, cultural exploration and transmission, and innovating - we will find a way to have choir.” I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of digital choir offerings and felt joy from the collection of voices … all of these digital experiences provide the opportunity to teach, learn, collaborate, and perform. Imagine what we would be missing had everyonechoir directors, singers, musicians, adults and students alikejust stayed home and sat in silence. No teaching, no learning, no performance, no joy. Again, our arts leaders can’t be kept down, and when we add artists, musicians, and studentsit’s like magic!

While we find ourselves continuing to telework, or looking for work, or returning to work … I keep thinking about Dorothy. After a long journey down that yellow brick road, at the end she simply clicked her heels together and said, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” She had done the work, met the enemy, made friends, collaborated, and found solutions. Just like Dorothy and her friends, let’s continue on our path, too. Remember that you’re a strong, capable, self-confident leader in the arts. Let’s make a promise to one another, right now, to reach out to a colleague and offer some comfort and reassurance. You’ll be glad you did. The arts in Ohio are better when we work together.

To close, it seems appropriate to recall that when Dorothy made it home safe and sound, her supporters and friends were thereher home was intact. It’s time to find your ruby slippersmine were way back in the far corner of the closet, but I found them, and they fit! I’ll meet you on our yellow brick road to success … mask on, 6 feet apart, doing what we do best … supporting the arts in Ohio!

Until next time,

Donna Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

An Ohio Arts Council staff photo with staff members holding signs that read: Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep creating!

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