This month is chock-full of celebrations. For instance, we awarded more than $14.7 million in grant funding this month —but it's more than that. It’s about leadership for the arts, support for artists and arts organizations, appreciation for volunteers in the arts, celebration of professional staff in our arts organizations, and a huge thank you to our authorizers: Governor Mike DeWine, and members of the Ohio House of Representatives led by Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Montville Twp.)! We also acknowledge grant review panelists and the Ohio Arts Council board for their review and approval of grant awards. All of this to say—we are celebrating people, resources, creativity, arts learning, and so much more because Ohio values the arts! We also celebrate the Massillon Museum and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County with Lit Youngstown, who received National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant awards . Look for more details on the fantastic programming these organizations have in store for the upcoming year. Through local partnerships and creative leadership, they are planning so many fun events that will make literature come alive in ways you’ve never seen before. Did you know the Ohio State Fair is more than agriculture, amusement rides, concerts, and food? Recently, the Ohio Arts Council honored 15 Ohio artists for their work with awards at the 2019 Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. From artwork that reflects the world around us through a natural lens to pieces that encourage interactive exploration, this exhibition—considered the largest juried exhibition in the state—is fabulous, and it was difficult to pick the honorees with nearly 250 artists participating in the amateur and professional artist categories this year. This month we also celebrate a first for the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery. The Natural Expressions exhibition now on view through October 19 was curated by four high school students with guidance by Erin Shapiro, curator of the Springfield Museum of Art. Student curators include Mikayla Anderson (Elyria High School), Kaia Armstrong (Colerain High School), Sydney Chabot (Portsmouth High School), and Jayden Nanthavong (Whitehall Yearling High School). This experiment was an opportunity for us to explore how real-world experiences can bring Ohio’s Fine Arts Standards in the Visual Arts to life, with the curatorial process touching on elements such as: exploring various methods of art criticism in responding to artworks; using appropriate vocabulary to define and describe techniques and materials used to create works of art; analyzing the work of individual artists and explain how they are influenced by cultural factors; applying methods of art criticism when discussing selected works of art; and engaging in discourse and express a point of view about issues related to the public display of works of art—to name a few! And, of course, we are celebrating the adoption of the state fiscal year 2020-21 biennial budget for arts and culture through the OAC, an historic high of $34.5 million. This great news comes at a time when increased funding was desperately needed, as application numbers soared higher than ever before—requests during this past grant application cycle were at an all-time high! Public funding for the arts is always something to celebrate, and I hope you agree that a vibrant arts and cultural state makes Ohio a better place to live, work, and learn. Our state funding allows us to provide resources that reach all 88 Ohio counties. The experiences and engagement you have with our governor, your state representative and senator; and your mayor, county commissioners, and city council members matters. Always, always invite these policymakers to your events, tell them your stories of success, and remind them that they helped make the experiences you’re presenting possible through public funding for the arts through the OAC. I've traveled the state to meet with some of the finest arts leaders in the world, and I often have to remind them that their work, long hours, innovations, and engagement also need celebrated. So, for just a moment, I’d like you to consider your successes. If you work with an arts organization, think about those successes, and now schedule time to celebrate. Share the good news—pat yourself and your colleagues on the back for jobs well done. And remember to thank your board members, patrons, audience members, and legislators for their part in making your work worth doing and experiencing in the most generous way. Until next time, Donna S. Collins Executive Director Featured Photo: The Ohio Arts Council staff recently participated in a screen printing workshop at Blockfort in Columbus. It was a great experience getting out in the field and seeing the inspiring work Ohio artists are doing every day.