While the doors to most Ohio K-12 schools are closed for the summer, that doesn’t mean learning has gone by the wayside. Students across the state are engaged in all kinds of arts-related activities. In Nelsonville at Stuart’s Opera House, young people are participating in the Performing Arts Camp that includes songwriting, playwriting, acting, and technical production. In Toledo, the Arts Commission continues to grow its Young Artists At Work (YAAW) program where teens from diverse neighborhoods come together to find a completely unique summer employment opportunity tapping their creative skills. All over Ohio, camps for music, theatre, comedy, art making of all kinds, and dance are happening. Many students not participating in summer programs are still taking the time to visit museums, galleries and dance venues, and going to concerts and plays. Learning in the arts takes no vacation. It’s happening year-round. About this time a couple of summers ago, we began to dream about how to engage more students with the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Riffe Gallery. You will recall last fall we hosted an exhibition called Arts Educators as Artists . It was a hit, with record attendance at the gallery. So, our dreaming and planning paid off—engage the teachers, engage the students—it was a win-win. I’m pleased to share with you that for the very first time, the Riffe Gallery will feature the curatorial work of four Ohio students: Mikayla Anderson (Elyria High School), Kaia Armstrong (Colerain High School), Sydney Chabot (Portsmouth High School), and Jayden Nanthavong (Whitehall Yearling High School). We were fortunate to engage Erin Shapiro, curator of the Springfield Museum of Art, to work with our students as a teaching curator. The exhibition is focused on artwork inspired by and concerned with nature. Erin, along with Mikayla, Kaia, Sydney, and Jayden, have worked throughout the entire 2018-19 school year to mount this exhibition, titled Natural Expressions: A Student Curated Exhibition , on display July 25 – Oct. 19, 2019. The start of summer also brings the finalization of the state’s budget process. As I shared with you last month, we are grateful that both Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio House of Representatives have proposed increases to the Ohio Arts Council’s General Revenue Fund (GRF) budget. The Governor recommended $29.5 million in GRF funding for the OAC, and the House recommended adding an additional $2 million in grants, setting the agency’s budget at $31.5 million. This is already good news, but we have more—the Ohio Senate has recommended an additional $3 million, setting the agency’s budget at $34.5 million. Attention will turn now to the anticipated Conference Committee between the House and Senate to reconcile the two versions of the bill. Ohio’s budget should be signed into law by June 30, 2019. I will keep you updated on any final changes. One last thing: Please let your elected official know how much their investment in arts and culture means to you and your community. As my Grandma used to say, “Saying ‘thank you’ is more important than the ask.” Until next time, Donna S. Collins Executive Director Featured photo: A student participates in the Arts Commission's Young Artists at Work program. YAAW provides teens from diverse neighborhoods in Toledo the opportunity to come together to find unique summer employment while tapping their creative skills. Photo courtesy of the Arts Commission.