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A parade at a previous year's FireFish Festival in Lorain, Ohio. FireFish Arts is an Ohio Arts Council grant recipient.

Summer is Hot and So Are the Investments in the Arts

On July 21, the Ohio Arts Council’s board approved nearly $18.5 million in grant awards which were made possible by the State of Ohio under Governor Mike DeWine’s leadership. Throughout the past year and a half, we have been reminded time and time again that the arts are better when we work together, and these grants prove just that. They will support the restoration of arts programming in communities across Ohio, the hiring and rehiring of arts professionals, and the renewed work and livelihoods of artists and arts educators. Things are truly heating up in the arts in the best possible way.

Our commitment to providing statewide support of the arts has renewed importance following the announcement of a record-setting state appropriation of $40 million for the OAC’s 2022-23 operating budget. We are very grateful to Governor DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and members of the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate for their continued support of public funding for the arts. This investment fuels the spirit of innovative resilience that defines Ohio’s arts and cultural sector.

In addition to the historic biennial appropriation to the agency’s budget, the OAC achieved a number of firsts through the FY 2022 funding round announced last week:

  • This marks the largest amount of funding the OAC has ever invested 1) into operating support for small organizations, via Arts Access; 2) into arts and cultural projects for newer organizations, via ArtSTART; and 3) into innovative arts projects, via ArtsNEXT.
  • All operating support awards for large and mid-sized arts organizations via Sustainability exceed or equal the prior fiscal year.
  • Awards for the Fund Every County program increased by $235,000, continuing to ensure greater access and geographic equity in the arts, reaching more Ohioans.
  • The amount invested into projects for culturally diverse organizations, via Building Cultural Diversity, doubled compared to four years ago.
  • The amount invested into in-school residencies for teaching artists in PK-12 schools throughout Ohio quadruple compared to four years ago, funding $1.4 million via TeachArtsOhio compared to $340,000 in FY 2018.
  • Of those applying for OAC grants, 17 percent were new applicants to the agency and received funding.

I also want to extend a special note of thanks to folks who have called, emailed, and texted with words of appreciation. When the collective voice of arts leaders join together in a united message for public funding, Ohioans win—and truly, everyone wins!

Our role at the Ohio Arts Council is to tell the story of investment and engagement of our artists, arts organizations, and all who provide the arts in their communities. And to all of you, the state’s arts advocates, thank you for telling your positive stories and experiences that impact the arts and arts education!

And as if the state’s funding wasn’t enough on the road to recovery and resilience, on July 19, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced their latest funding update on the Save Our Stages (SOS), otherwise known as Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG). In reviewing this recent list of grantees, I noted with pride that nearly 100 of them are also OAC grantees. Those organizations will receive more than $80 million from the SVOG program. For reference, at present, 280 for-profit and nonprofit arts entities in Ohio  received more than $202 million from SVOG this spring and summer.

A chart showing Shuttered Venue Operator Grant awards by state. The line showing Ohio is circled in blue, showing that Ohio was awarded 280 awards totaling $202,229,806.

The energy and savvy of arts leaders across the state continues to open venue doors, bring arts professionals back to work, and provide world-class arts to Ohioans. Lawn concerts, summer camps, and festivals are filling our summer calendars … I just can’t wait to see you there!

Until next time,

Donna S. Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director  

Featured photo: A parade at a previous year's FireFish Festival in Lorain, Ohio. FireFish Arts is an Ohio Arts Council grant recipient. Photo by Ron Jantz/Jantz Photography.

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