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Meet the Staff Patrick Roehrenbeck

Meet the Staff: Patrick Roehrenbeck, Organizational Programs Coordinator

Born and raised in Ohio—with annual summer trips to Nebraska to practice his polka dancing at the St. Stanislaus Polish Festival in Omaha—Patrick Roehrenbeck has a nonprofit arts career that’s taken him to several Midwestern cities, from Chicago to Minneapolis to Columbus. Now, as one of the newest members of the Ohio Arts Council team, Patrick is ready to get involved in arts and culture on a statewide level as the Organizational Programs Coordinator for Northeast Ohio.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your background in the arts?
I have been involved in the nonprofit arts sector for 20 years. I am a passionate champion and advocate for the arts. I started working with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, and then with CATCO, and the longest tenure I’ve had was with the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus as their executive director for seven years.

Then, I moved on to Wild Goose Creative, and I was the executive director there for two years. And then onto Shadowbox Live, where I was the director of development, helping the organization navigate the challenges of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When the opportunity became available here at the Ohio Arts Council, I jumped on it because this is like a dream job come true.

Q. What do you like most about working in the arts?
Even though I am not an artist, it’s my passion, and I think what I get most excited about is the performing arts. I respect and admire visual art and visual artists, but often, someone will say, ‘When I see a piece of work or a painting, it brings back all of these memories.’ Well, for me, when I hear a song or see a show, that’s what really brings back those memories for me.

One thing I really liked about working at Wild Goose Creative was how I was able to be involved with all different kinds of art forms. I am in awe of all artists, no matter their genre. It just amazes me what they can do and the impact that they can have on people.

Q. What is your favorite arts memory?
Growing up in Columbus, I would go to CATCO performances when they were still at their Park Street location—so, this is in the late ‘90s. And I always remember going to The Nutcracker and Scrooge when I was little with my parents and my brother and sister.

In grade school, I was fortunate enough to go to a school that had a choir. And we had arts classes and plays that we put on that everyone was encouraged to participate in. I was lucky in that sense. And a lot of children aren’t privileged to have that right now.

I think the arts have always been there for me. When I was a little kid, I learned how to polka dance because my family would go to the St. Stanislaus Polish Festival in Omaha. We would spend about a month every summer in Omaha. And polka music and polka dancing is what we did. There’s always been that in my life.

Q. What are you looking forward to in your new role?

What’s great about the OAC is that it touches all the art that happens in Ohio. I really can’t wait until I have all of the processes down and understand all of the ins and outs of what happens here in the office so I can start getting out and meeting people. I want to see where they are doing all of the great things they do. I’m excited to thrive on the creative energy that’s out there.

I see my role as really starting and maintaining strong relationships with constituents and letting them know that I am here for them. So that they know they have someone who is their liaison to everything that happens here at the OAC.

Q. Having recently served in administrative roles for several nonprofit arts organizations in Ohio, do you have any advice for individuals who may be navigating the OAC grant application process right now?

I think the biggest advantage of the OAC is that arts organizations have a person to talk to. They can call us, and when they do, they’re talking to someone who is intimate with their history with the agency. That’s the nice thing about all of us within the OAC team. I think we’re friendly, and we’re approachable. And that’s how we want to remain. Because approaching an agency or a government entity can be intimidating, but that’s just not who we are. That was never the intention of the OAC. The Ohio Arts Council is there to make sure that the arts grow and help Ohio grow.

I understand that administrators are being pulled in so many directions, and I want to walk with them on this journey as they go through this process. I know that time is valuable to them, just as it is to us, and I just want to make sure that I am the best resource for them.

Q. What makes the arts in Ohio special to you?

Throughout Ohio, arts and culture has been critical in the revitalization of downtowns. The arts play a big role in encouraging companies to come in and make their headquarters, add a division headquarters, or find ways to do business in that community—because there’s an arts and culture life in that city for their employees.

If this COVID-19 shutdown and pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the balance between work and life. And I think cities and states and regions that have invested in that life, not just the job aspect, are the ones that really succeed. People have realized that there can be a nice balance between work and life, and the arts are a huge part of that.

It’s the arts that have kept people together when they are apart. And it’s been amazing what arts organizations have done across the state to be able to continue to keep people together virtually. That was a skill not previously in their wheelhouse, but they had to pivot and adjust quickly. And you know, what? They did a great job of it, and it has kept people together. I think it has kept people sane in some cases.

Personally, I’d rather spend an hour on a Zoom watching a performance than in a 20-minute Zoom meeting. It just shows that there’s still love in life.

Q. What do you do outside of work?

I love spending time with my family, especially my niece and nephews. My one niece is in college, and my four nephews are in high school or middle school.

I love traveling. Abroad, I really enjoyed visiting Costa Rica. And domestically, I love San Diego—the weather there is perfect. I go to Las Vegas once a year. My cousin, her husband, and her daughter live out there, so when I go visit her, we always have a great time.

I love snow skiing—and I ski, I don’t snowboard—and my favorite place to ski is Telluride, Colorado.

In Columbus, I often spend weekends going to outdoor events. Living close to Goodale Park, I’m used to having a festival happening there almost every week. And that’s another thing I think is special in Ohio: all the different festivals and outdoor activities that all the regions have. It’s pretty impressive because the entire state has to squeeze in all of those events within three months in order to have good enough weather for them! It makes for no shortage of things to do.

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
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 oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Photos courtesy of Patrick Roehrenbeck 



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