ArtsOhio Blog

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Arts Midwest President & CEO Torrie Allen and Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins

2020: A Successful Start!

By all indications, 2020 is already a success for the arts in Ohio at all levels—as a national leader, regional powerhouse, and state of many talents—all because of the inspiring, innovative, and creative work you do locally in your communities!

At the federal level, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Creative Writing Fellowships to three Ohioans. Each will receive $25,000 to support the development of new works of prose. Renée Branum of Cincinnati, Claire Luchette of Cleveland Heights, and Brian Ascalon Roley of Montgomery were among 36 recipients awarded fellowships. The literary talents of Ohio's writers showcase the unique voices and viewpoints that contribute to the creative spirit of our state. The National Endowment for the Arts' support of individual artists living and working in Ohio is always greatly appreciated. We congratulate Renée, Claire, and Brian on receiving this tremendous honor.

In other national news, thanks again to the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio received a total of $525,000 in individual grants ranging from $10,000 to $45,000 to support arts programs and initiatives throughout the state. Ohio is full of hard-working arts organizations and creative leaders who know that meaningful arts experiences have the power to change lives. The support of the National Endowment of the Arts is integral to empowering Ohio’s artistic visionaries to continue to excel in their work, pursue groundbreaking innovations, and share their passions. I hope you will join me in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to the National Endowment for the Arts for its ongoing support of the arts in our state.

For our state and region, another 2020 success was the whirlwind three-day tour through Ohio by new Arts Midwest President and CEO Torrie Allen. Imagine meeting more than 60 arts leaders in four cities and attending the Ohio Arts Council’s board meeting, all in an effort to get acquainted and reintroduce Arts Midwest to Ohio. Torrie outdid himself by making new friends and promoting the mission of Arts Midwest—to encourage creativity, nurture cultural leadership, and engage people in meaningful arts experiences. Need a refresher on Arts Midwest? It’s one of six regional arts organizations that serves audiences, artists, and arts organizations. Arts Midwest’s jurisdiction covers Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Some of you may recall that Arts Midwest manages National Endowment for the Arts initiatives like the Big Read. Ohio has several Big Read initiatives, and we acknowledge all who are working in their communities to broaden our understanding of the world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. Annually, the program supports around 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single Big Read book.

In the spirit of the Big Read initiative, I’ve made my selection, and I’m starting with Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies. It’s a work of historical fiction based on the lives of the four Mirabal sisters, who participated in underground efforts to topple Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's 30-year dictatorial regime in the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters—Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa—were slain on Trujillo's orders on November 25, 1960. Their story haunted Alvarez, whose own family had fled the Dominican Republic just three months earlier in fear that her father's participation in the resistance would make him a target of Trujillo. Which title will you be reading this winter?

Lastly, at the state level, the Ohio Arts Council will soon announce 75 awards of $5,000 through the Individual Excellence Awards for artists working in the disciplines of choreography, criticism, fiction/non-fiction, music composition, poetry, and playwriting. We can’t wait to share the news with you, so keep your eyes open for our post next week!

As we move past the broken resolutions and onto bigger and better things in 2020, I’m so excited and encouraged by the first 31 days in January, and I can’t wait to see what February brings … there are sure to be grant application deadlines, field visits to arts organizations around the state, poetry from our Poetry Out Loud students, and—dare I say—even more resources to support the arts in Ohio!

I’m sure you have great news to share about the start of your 2020. I hope you will drop me a quick email at—I want to hear your arts and cultural successes and be able to promote you and your organization as one of Ohio’s greatest treasures!

Until next time,

Happy New Year!

Donna S. Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

Featured photo: Arts Midwest President & CEO Torrie Allen and Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins. Artwork: "Anse La Raye Serenade" by Denny Griffith, oil on canvas, 1986. Photo by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist.

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