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Honoring Heritage and Welcoming a New Year

Honoring Heritage and Welcoming a New Year

It was just a few weeks ago that I closed out my year with Elaina Hernandez, one of 2016’s Ohio Heritage Fellowship awardees. When I arrived with my colleagues Kathy Signorino and Carla Oesterle at the Toledo Museum of Art for the awards presentation, we were met by hundreds of people buzzing about the lobby and exhibitions – families, couples, individuals. The Great Escape, a holiday tradition where special programs are presented between Christmas and New Year’s Day, was well underway. In each hallway of the museum, people were enjoying performances, art activities, and, later in the evening, after-hours flashlight tours that fill the galleries, Glass Pavilion, and Peristyle with light.


Our main order of business that day, however, was to honor Elaina’s achievement in preserving folk and traditional art. Lucky for us, that involved witnessing a spectacular performance by Elaina’s dance group, El Corazon de Mexico. Dancers, adorned in traditional costumes made by Elaina’s mother, treated a full audience to an hour-long performance. The Mexican folkloric dances were amazing. The smiles, the talent, and the joy that exuded from every dancer (from five-year-olds to professionals) made the audience truly understand the passion of dance.




Welcoming 2017 was equally as impressive. My travels around the state have already included visits to Canton, Lorain, and Athens. Opportunities lie everywhere in our state as I’ve visited with professional arts educators in classrooms, met with arts organization leaders as they plan upcoming opportunities for their communities, and spoken with artists who want to make a bigger impact through their creative endeavors.


The theme for 2017 might just be engagement and innovation – words that mean so much to us in the arts sector. We know first-hand that building relationships and engaging with one another leads to creative and innovative endeavors. We will continue, at the Ohio Arts Council, to keep our promises to invest, engage, innovate, and lead through our work at all levels. In many ways, those four words represent our New Year’s resolutions.


We promise to keep our focus … because our creative sector is worth it, our citizens and communities deserve it, and the creative economy’s return on investment is second to none! Happy New Year!


Until next time,

Donna Collins Signature

Donna S. Collins

Executive Director



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