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Marietta Main Street Mural Project

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Arts Supporter

What a difference a year makes! There has never been a better time to be an arts supporter. Throughout this difficult time, arts supporters have made their voices heard and demonstrated their generosity time and time again. We’ve seen ticket buyers and subscribers donate the cost of admission to a canceled show or even a season. Annual arts donors and philanthropists increased their giving to ensure the stability of arts organizations across Ohio. State, federal, and even local governments also stepped up with CARES Act and American Rescue Plan funding to assist with paying salaries and other operating expenses, including rent, utilities, employee health care, and other benefits. These funds also supported costs associated with safely reopening arts venues and ensuring health and safety needs were top-of-mind.

The many emails, texts, phone calls, and social media posts I’ve seen are full of messages of hope and renewal—from the return of festivals and concerts, to theatre curtains rising again. Audiences are coming back in a big way, at outdoor and indoor arts events alike.

As vaccinations became available, the pandemic has subsided, and health orders eased, we have all begun to witness the renewal of our civic life. This has only been possible due to the careful planning and visioning of Ohio’s arts leaders—staffs and boards—from Ashtabula to Zanesville. From the moment the doors closed, yes, we all wrung our hands, worried, and dealt with our fears—but we also took deep breaths, did some strategic thinking, and formulated brave action plans that have us ready to move ahead as summer arrives.

After all, there’s nothing like an 18-month business interruption to allow shuttered venues to replace air-handlers, improve filtration, train staff on safety protocols, and work with the public to garner trust for a safe return to shows, concerts, dance recitals, poetry readings, gallery and museum exhibitions, festivals, and more.

Simply put, arts leaders were able to do their jobs because arts supporters did theirs. The dynamic synergy of arts leaders working hard, and arts funding lifting us up (whether public or private), has shifted what could have been a complete disaster into a season of renewal.

The start of summer also brings the finalization of the state’s budget process. At the writing of this article, both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate have invested additional funds in arts and culture through the Ohio Arts Council’s budget. In fact, at the currently recommended funding level of $40 million in state general revenue, this investment means we can fund FY 2022 applicants to a greater, deeper degree. That directly translates into support for jobs, better educational outcomes, restored cultural vitality, and positive economic impact. We are grateful for Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, members of the Ohio House of Representatives led by Speaker Bob Cupp, and members of the Ohio Senate led by President Matt Huffman. Their support for the arts will drive a revitalized Ohio economy and job growth.

I was going to say, “In closing,” but that doesn’t seem right as we start to reopen! So I’ll simply ask this: Please let your elected official know how much their investment in arts and culture means to you and your community.

I am often reminded of something my Grandma used to tell us: “Saying ‘thank you’ is more important than asking!”

Until next time,

Donna S. Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

Featured photo: Marietta Main Street Mural Project

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