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Ohio Arts Council Announces February Board Meeting

Members of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) board will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

The meeting will take place at the OAC office on the 33rd floor of the Rhodes State Office Tower, located at 30 E. Broad St. in downtown Columbus.

The Feb. 7 meeting replaces the board meeting previously scheduled for Jan. 25, 2023, which was postponed due to hazardous winter weather conditions statewide.

All meetings are open to the public. The board meeting agenda is available online here.

Transparency and the Critical Months Ahead

We’ve read and heard a lot (I mean a lot) about “transparency” in the last few months. I’m big on the topic myself. Throughout my career I’ve always had bosses and colleagues around me who believed in telling it like it was (or is). Transparency, as a critical component of leadership, has always been my style. I want you to hear it from me first, not on the street or at the water cooler.

For nearly nine years as the executive director of your Ohio Arts Council, I’ve been transparent – through our agency’s 50th and 55th anniversaries, during online grants platform transitions, through an ongoing series of budget increases at the state and federal levels (with an historic high of $40 million this biennium), during the COVID-19 pandemic, through staff changes and promotions, across two state administrations and several board member departures and appointments, and with all of you in an evolving arts sector environment. Today is no different.

To keep you informed about FY 2024-2025 budget season I have a few things to share: 
We began the state biennial budget process last fall and submitted our request to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) in October. It was a new process and OBM Director Kimberly Murnieks was transparent about the how and why of state agency requests: they required justification with demonstrable results and supporting data. Here at the Ohio Arts Council we loved that guidance because through our transparent application and final reporting processes we collect great information and solid data from our applicants and grantees to justify why public funding for the arts and culture through the OAC matters for Ohio. 

Our collection of your data and information provided the Ohio Arts Council with the ability to create a compelling request for our FY 2024-2025 biennial (July 1, 2023-June 30, 2025) budget. We requested an additional $10.6 million over the biennium for grantmaking, and we were able to make this appeal because we had the data and facts to substantiate the need.

Since the last Sustainability grant program on-year in FY 2020, the OAC has dramatically boosted its efforts to fund the arts in all 88 counties, first achieved in FY 2016. We must live our mission to provide greater access and opportunity for Ohioans to experience the arts wherever they are.  As a result, 199 organizations are newly eligible to apply for operating support grants in Sustainability in FY 2024—an extraordinary increase of 58%. Our request for additional dollars is needed for this reason alone.
In February, Governor DeWine will release his executive budget. It will be introduced in the House (and assigned to a committee) for consideration. Next the budget will move to the Senate (and the Senate Finance Committee) in late spring, and finally to Conference Committee (consisting of executive, House, and Senate leaders). During this time frame I will have the honor of testifying in the House and Senate committees that review the OAC budget – and we will not rest on the laurels of our current record high budget. Instead, we will again remind our elected officials what they already know: how the arts are advancing Ohio’s economy, creating jobs, improving learning outcomes through arts education, and revitalizing communities big and small. 

In the theme of transparency, it is also my responsibility to remind you that we are all responsible for educating and informing elected officials when it comes to policymaking in and for the arts. All year long, not just at budget time, we must use our authentic voices and stories of impact to educate policymakers about the return on investment that public funding for the arts through the OAC continues to bring to our state.

With all this in mind, it is more critical than ever that each of you take it upon yourselves to participate in the civic process, as Ohioans advocating for the arts. We know that your voices have always been the most authentic piece of the educational process underpinning our success. As our arts and cultural sector continues to evolve and change, this unity and engagement in support of one another’s shared missions – as artists, nonprofit arts agencies, teaching artists, and others – will ensure that the work of the Ohio Arts Council continues to be recognized by our elected leaders. With you, together, we will continue to deliver the message that support for the arts is a sound investment of public dollars that yields significant returns, and that the arts create jobs, improve our competitiveness, and anchor our communities. After all, we are the advocates and educators with the real stories to tell about Ohio’s extraordinary return on investment.
Until next time,

Donna S. Collins

Donna Collins signature

Executive Director

Graphic: 2023 Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio; Announcing the Winners; OAC logo

Announcing the 2023 Governor’s Awards for the Arts Winners

Eight winners have been selected to receive Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio this year. 

A tradition since 1971, the Governor's Awards showcase and celebrate exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, educators, and business support of the arts. Award recipients are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor. 

In recognition of their impactful and visionary leadership in Ohio’s creative sector and their sustained dedication to promoting artistic excellence, awardees will be honored during a ceremony on May 17, 2023. 

"Ohio features a wealth of artistic talent, creative entrepreneurs, and innovative arts leaders and educators. Our shared strength in the arts makes the Buckeye state a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We’re proud to showcase and celebrate Ohio’s cultural assets through the Governor’s Awards for the Arts,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. 

Each of the winners will receive an original work of art by painter Brian Robinson of Dover. 

Registration for the event opens soon, and additional information will be available in the coming weeks. Visit the Governor’s Awards page for regular updates. 

The 2023 award recipients and categories follow: 

Arts Administration | Kathy Wade | Cincinnati (Hamilton) 

Arts Education | Dr. Douglas Marrah | Ashland (Ashland) 

Arts Patron | Louella Reese | Granville (Licking) 

Business Support of the Arts | Walnut Street Gallery, LLC | Wooster (Wayne) 

Community Development and Participation (co-winner) | Michael London | Dayton (Montgomery) 

Community Development and Participation (co-winner) | Black Swamp Arts Festival | Bowling Green (Wood) 

Individual Artist | Tricia Kaman | Cleveland (Cuyahoga) 

Irma Lazarus | Ann Hamilton | Columbus (Franklin) 

Biographical information and headshots are available.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Andrew Paa, Communications Strategist

Collage of student documentary photography work

Bellaire High School Taps Highly Published Photojournalist for OAC-supported Artist Residency

A multi-year collaboration between Bellaire High School in Belmont County and upper Ohio Valley-based photojournalist Rebecca Kiger is helping students learn about photography and engage in several documentary-style projects.  

Kiger—whose photo credits include Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post—has led and mentored students in several educational projects, each documenting their lives and experiences in rural Appalachia. The in-school artist residency is supported through the Ohio Arts Council’s TeachArtsOhio grant program, which helps bring schools and organizations together with teaching artists for high-quality arts learning experiences. 

Over the past two years of the residency, students have individually examined topics ranging from mental health and responses to COVID-19 to social and economic struggles.  

They’ve also worked together on larger projects. One comprehensive project brought the students’ photographs and written reflections together in a “zine”—a self-published, small-circulation work of original images and text—to engage the wider community. Another project they participated in was “Unfinished.” Part of a global social experiment, the project explored a variety of topics, including the stigma of discussing mental health. 

While working with Kiger, the students also had the opportunity to hear from prominent professionals in the field, meeting virtually with many renowned photographers and journalists—including Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Judy Walgren. 

The collaboration continues this academic year, again supported by a TeachArtsOhio grant. Their current project is focused on documenting, through photography and reporting, environmental work being done in their corner of Appalachia. Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, students are having discussions with academics, scientists, journalists, advocates, and community members. They’re also photographing “hometown heroes” who are active in the region’s efforts to better preserve and protect the local natural environment. 

Once complete, the student’s projects will become part of a new nonprofit center dedicated to supporting and creating a visual archive of environmental work being done across the United States.  

Learn more about TeachArtsOhio, including contact information, upcoming deadlines, and application requirements.  


Article by Andrew Paa, Communications Strategist
Featured photo images provided by Bellaire High School. See more of the student's work on Instagram

Ohio Arts Organizations and Artists Receive $615,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded 37 grants totaling $615,000 to Ohio, the NEA announced in a media release earlier today. As part of its first round of funding for federal fiscal year 2023, the NEA said it has recommended 1,569 arts grants nationwide totaling more than $34 million.

“Together, these grants show the NEA’s support nationwide for strengthening our arts and cultural ecosystems, providing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contributing to the health of our communities and our economy,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., in the release. “I encourage everyone to explore these projects and the ways they help provide inspiration, understanding, and opportunities for us to live more artful lives.”

Most of the Ohio awards were distributed through the NEA’s Arts Projects program, which the NEA media release states is the federal agency’s largest program and covers a wide range of projects in 15 artistic disciplines and fields. Ohio’s Arts Project grantee awards range between $10,000 and $40,000 to support arts programs and initiatives across the state.

Seven Ohio nonprofit organizations received Challenge America grants, with each award totaling $10,000. These grants were “awarded in all artistic disciplines to reach historically underserved communities that have rich and dynamic cultural identities,” the media release stated.

Additionally, two Ohioans were awarded Literary Fellowships. Connor Yeck of Cincinnati is the recipient of a highly competitive $25,000 Creative Writing fellowship in poetry, which enables recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and career development. Teresa Villa-Ignacio of Cleveland Heights is the recipient of a $10,000 Translation Projects fellowship, which supports the translation of literary prose, poetry, and drama from around the world into English.

“On behalf of the Ohio Arts Council, we send our gratitude to the National Endowment for the Arts for their continued recognition of the strength and quality of Ohio arts organizations and artists,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “Congratulations to all award recipients. Your hard work and creativity uplift communities across the state, provide life-changing experiences for people of all ages, and help to power our state’s economy.

A list organized by city of organizations and individuals receiving NEA funding follows:

Chagrin Falls

  • Chagrin Documentary Film Festival | Grants for Arts Projects—Media Arts ($15,000)


  • American Sign Museum | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati | Grants for Art Projects—Theater ($15,000)
  • Cincinnati May Festival | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($20,000)
  • Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park | Grants for Arts Projects—Theater ($15,000)
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($35,000)
  • Kennedy Heights Art Center | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • Price Hill Will | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($10,000)
  • Connor Yeck | Literature Fellowships: Creative Writing—Literary Arts ($25,000)


  • Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($30,000)
  • Center for Arts-Inspired Learning | Grants for Arts Projects—Arts Education ($20,000)
  • DANCECleveland | Grants for Arts Projects—Dance ($15,000)
  • Cleveland Play House | Grants for Arts Projects—Theater ($10,000)
  • Tri-C Foundation (on behalf of Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland) | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($15,000)
  • East Cleveland Farmers Market Preservation Society | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • Rainey Institute | Grants for Arts Projects—Arts Education ($15,000)
  • Foluke Cultural Arts | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • GroundWorks Dancetheatre | Grants for Arts Projects—Dance ($10,000)
  • Karamu House | Grants for Arts Projects—Theater ($30,000)
  • The Cleveland Orchestra | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($40,000)
  • Zygote Press, Inc. | Grants for Arts Projects—Visual Arts ($30,000)

Cleveland Heights

  • Teresa Villa-Ignacio | Literature Fellowship: Translation Projects—Literary Arts ($10,000)


  • BalletMet | Grants for Arts Projects—Dance ($10,000)
  • Central Community House of Columbus | Challenge America ($10,000)
  • Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History | Grants for Arts Projects—Folk & Traditional Arts ($15,000)
  • Maroon Arts Group | Grants for Arts Projects—Presenting and Multidisciplinary Works ($30,000)
  • OhioDance | Grants for Arts Projects—Dance ($10,000)
  • Opera Columbus | Grants for Arts Projects—Opera ($20,000)
  • Opera Project Columbus Incorporated | Grants for Arts Projects—Opera ($10,000)
  • Wexner Center for the Arts | Grants for Arts Projects—Presenting and Multidisciplinary Works ($10,000)


  • Kenyon Review | Grants for Arts Projects—Literary Arts ($10,000)

Gates Mills

  • Encore Chamber Music Institute | Grants for Arts Projects—Music ($10,000)


  • Kent State University Kent Campus | Grants for Arts Projects—Design ($30,000)


  • Stuart’s Opera House | Grants for Arts Projects—Presenting and Multidisciplinary Works ($10,000)


  • Gateway Arts Council | Challenge America ($10,000)


  • Westcott House Foundation | Grants for Arts Projects—Design ($20,000)


Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the National Endowment for the Arts supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.


The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Andrew Paa, Communications Strategist 

Governor DeWine Appoints Four to Ohio Arts Council Board

Governor Mike DeWine appointed four members to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) board on January 6, 2023.

Robert (Robb) Hankins of Canton and Jon D. Holt of Dayton have been reappointed, returning to the OAC board, with terms ending July 1, 2027.

Kristie Dukes Davis of Cincinnati and Peter Lawson Jones of Shaker Heights have been newly appointed to join the OAC board, with terms ending July 1, 2026.

“On behalf of the Ohio Arts Council, I am thrilled that Robb and Jon will continue their service to fund, support, and strengthen the arts broadly throughout Ohio, and we welcome Kristie and Peter and their valuable experiences as public officials and community leaders,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins.

Biographical information follows and headshots are available for download.

Mr. Hankins is currently a consultant who specializes in using the arts to revitalize communities. Before that he was the CEO of nine different community and state arts councils across America. Most recently, for 15 years, he served as the CEO of ArtsinStark, the county arts council for Stark County. While there he created the Canton Arts District, installed more than 100 pieces of public art, and ran the only united arts fund drive in America to make its goal for 15 years in a row. In 2012, ArtsinStark received a Governor’s Award for the Arts. Mr. Hankins has sat on the boards of the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. He was first appointed to the board of the Ohio Arts Council in June 2013, was subsequently reappointed in July 2017, and was elected board secretary in July 2018.

Mr. Holt is senior corporate counsel in the global legal department of Elsevier, Inc. He supports Elsevier’s research solutions for North American and Latin America with a corporate transactional and intellectual property practice focus. Before joining Elsevier, Mr. Holt was director and senior corporate counsel at LexisNexis, a division of RELX, Inc. Prior to that, he worked at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP in Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Holt also sits on the board of Ohio Legal Help. He was first appointed to the OAC board in January 2014 and subsequently reappointed in July 2017.

Ms. Dukes Davis was elected trustee of Springfield Township in Hamilton County in November of 2019 for a term beginning in 2020. She is a Cincinnati native, currently residing in the Finneytown school district of Springfield Township. She is a graduate of Princeton High
School and earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Northern Kentucky University. Ms. Dukes Davis has served in leadership positions and has worked collaboratively with people of very diverse backgrounds throughout her 31-year career in Hamilton County government. Ms. Dukes Davis currently serves as chief of mediation services at Hamilton County Juvenile Court and serves as an executive board member on the board of trustees for Linden Grove School.

Mr. Jones is an attorney, business consultant, professional actor, dramatist, and former elected official. He is a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude in government) and Harvard Law School. From 2002 to 2010, Mr. Jones was a member of the Board of Cuyahoga County Commissioners, serving as its president for three years. From 1997 to 2002, he served in the Ohio House of Representatives, where he was the ranking member of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and second vice president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. He was also formerly the vice mayor and a councilman in the City of Shaker Heights. A member of SAG-AFTRA and Actor’s Equity, he can be seen in the Tom Hanks film, A Man Called Otto. He has appeared in more than 20 films, on network television (e.g., NBC’s Chicago Fire and ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7), and on stages throughout Northeast Ohio. As a successful dramatist of three plays, his latest, The Phoenix Society, enjoyed its world premiere in 2022 at Playwrights Local in Cleveland. Mr. Jones is the executive producer of Fatherhood 101, a documentary on the critical importance of responsible fatherhood. Mr. Jones and his spouse Lisa are the proud parents of three children.

All appointments remain subject to the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate.


The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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