Dear Colleagues, Today is one of the most significant days in the history of public funding for the arts in Ohio. Governor Mike DeWine, after working with lawmakers and leaders in the Ohio General Assembly, has signed into law a record-setting state appropriation of $40 million for the Ohio Arts Council (OAC)! This is a historic high, finally eclipsing our previous peak achieved more than 20 years ago. Without a doubt, the governor and legislature’s investment will further fuel our shared resilience and recovery in Ohio’s arts and cultural sector. We know the return on investment is so great in our communities. Even now, thanks to past economic relief efforts, we are already seeing the hiring and rehiring of arts organization staffers, more opportunities for Ohio artists, a return to the classrooms for Ohio’s arts educators, and so much more. Ohio’s civic life—and central to it, its artistic life—is returning. Bands regather and perform, orchestras and dancers rehearse, museums and galleries fully open their doors, public art projects instill vibrancy and cohesion in our neighborhoods—I could simply go on and on. The Ohio Arts Council shares your renewed hope and strength. Yes, like you, we too have endured deep loss—economic and personal. When the pandemic began, we tightened our belts, lost or reduced pay, cut back numerous expenses, and did more with less. In fact, we did a lot more with less—managing $20 million in one-time CARES Act funds last fall, managing an extra $1.5 million in relief from the National Endowment for the Arts, and now managing a record $40 million state FY 2022-23 operating budget. All this, without requesting or accepting any additional administrative funds. That’s because we are in this together. Our cost-savings were critical, essential to our service. We never left our mission. Like you, we kept our eye on the prize—and on getting to the other side. We have heard so much about what you withstood—and, now, how you will ultimately overcome the difficult times. It inspired us to keep as many grant dollars flowing into the economy as possible, whatever it took. Today, we have you to thank. You make public funding for the arts as strong as it can be. You make Ohio a national leader when it comes to investing in a creative future. Your stories and voices are central to our success—and, fortunately, we have exemplary leaders on the Ohio Arts Council’s board, who work daily to ensure those voices and stories are amplified as they encounter legislators and policymakers alike. To paraphrase the OAC’s Board Chair Ginger Warner: “It’s so easy to make the case for the arts. We have so many exemplary leaders and artists in Ohio.” Arts advocates and supporters across Ohio have made this a reality, so please hear me when I say, from the bottom of my heart: “Thank you, and as will always be the case—the arts in Ohio are better when we work together.” Now, I hope you will join me in the coming weeks by thanking Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and state lawmakers for supporting the arts in Ohio at this record $40 million level. They’ve done their part—and it’s time for us to do ours! Until next time, Donna S. Collins Executive Director Featured photo: Passion Works artists work on a "Turn It Gold" mural in Athens. The mural project is just one example of resilient artmaking that took place throughout Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Passion Works Studio.