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Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and Sierra Leone

Ohio Celebrates, Works, and Never Rests on Our Laurels

Last Wednesday as we gathered in Columbus for the 2018 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio, we celebrated the outstanding contributions of amazing artists, arts educators, arts organizations, and arts patrons, including business leaders. It was a day I will remember as a highlight in the OAC’s long history! Thank you to all who participated in-person and all who watched the live-stream. Our winners filled our hearts and minds with profound remarks about the value and power of the arts! It was inspiration at the highest level.

My dad always told me, “You can’t rest on your laurels after a little success. You’ve got to go for the next big thing and do it well.” He was right back then, and I believe the sentiment still today because the world didn’t stand still last week while we were busy celebrating. Here’s what else happened:

On May 15, the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee proposed a $155 million budget for the National Endowment for the Arts for Federal Fiscal Year 2019. This is a $2 million increase over last year, and it matches the unified “ask” made by arts advocates from across the nation this spring! Next up is consideration of the $155 million by the full U.S. House Appropriations Committee – likely this week. The U.S. Senate is likely to consider the budget bill the second week in June. Stay tuned, and we’ll bring you more information as it happens.

In other news, on April 27, I received an email from Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Here’s her personal message, announcing the conclusion of her term:

Dear Donna:

I am writing to inform you that I will conclude my term as Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, effective on 04 June 2018.

I am so appreciative of having had this opportunity. The partnership that the NEA has with each state arts agency and regional arts organization is one of our most important. Together, we have fostered a network across the nation where the arts can thrive.

It was great to be in Ohio multiple times during my tenure at the NEA, to see firsthand the ways the arts are thriving. From meeting with artists at the Cleveland Museum and the film festival, to visiting Gordon Square. And thank you for hosting a town hall meeting at the Cleveland Museum. In my travels to meet each agency executive in your states and regions, you have all demonstrated your dedication and commitment to connecting artists and the arts to individuals throughout your communities.

Thank you for believing in what we are doing together. I send my best wishes to you for your important work.



We have all appreciated Dr. Chu’s leadership and vision as she ably led the National Endowment for the Arts. We will miss her and wish her well in her future endeavors … which will always include the arts!

Later, on May 7, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its spring round of grant awards, including $995,800 to the Ohio Arts Council! For the ninth year in row, we have been awarded the second-largest NEA partnership agreement grant, securing more NEA funding than larger states including Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. As has been the case since 2012, all of the NEA funds awarded to the Ohio Arts Council will go right back out the door in the form of grants to arts organizations!

Back at the state level, this week started with ArtSTART grant panels reviewing nearly 200 applications, Monday through today, at the Ohio Arts Council’s offices. Our many thanks to the outstanding individuals serving on four different panels to review these thoughtfully-written applications!

I’m happy to have had that “no resting on your laurels” advice from my dad—there is so much to do, so much to see, and so much more to celebrate!

Until next time,

Donna Collins' signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

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