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The Storms of Summer

Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. CollinsThe pandemic, racial inequality, social unrest, and challenges to our economy have come together as a perfect storm. I’ve been considering how best to weather this storm—how to make the many changes we must make, while advancing the ones we’ve already made—and have been reminded about the many good things happening in our lives, across our state, and in our country. To follow are a few highlights to brighten your day despite the serious challenges we face amid this stormy summer:  
The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) board approved $12,500,446 in grants to support Ohio artists, arts and cultural organizations, students, educators, and public arts programming when it met virtually in July.

Paper Routes: Women to Watch 2020 is now open, virtually! The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery once again collaborated with the Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts to showcase an excellent array of women artists. The exhibition was curated by Matt Distel, Emily Liebert, and Stephanie Rond. You can visit the exhibition virtually and participate in a host of virtual artist talks and the curators' tour. Check riffegallery.org for more.
 
Dr. Paschal Yao Younge, a master artist specializing in African Traditional Musical Arts, was awarded the 2020 Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award for Performing Arts from the Ohio Arts Council.

Ohio Arts Council, Columbus, Ohio, oac.ohio.gov, created Ohio Arts Beacon of Light, an online place to share, connect, and cope with the challenges presented by the coronavirus, featuring more than 200 works from artists of all ages, including poets, dancers, composers, painters, and photographers, along with weekly artist interviews. Photo: untitled by artist Arris Cohen, courtesy of the Ohio Arts Council.Americans for the Arts recognized the Ohio Arts Council for the Ohio Arts Beacon: Finding Hope in the New Normal project in their Arts and Community Mosaic. We know that creating community in this time of physical distancing is more important than ever. After all, artists help us all process the world as it changes around us. We launched the Ohio Arts Beacon of Light to help Ohio artists find a place to share, connect, and cope with the challenges presented by the coronavirus. The idea came from our board member, Tina Husted, who hoped to inspire artists and the public at large through sharing original artwork, while giving our creative community a platform for connection, expression, and encouragement. 
 
We continue to invite artists of all ages, working in all disciplines, to submit their work through the Ohio Arts Beacon. Share your work here! And be sure to follow @Ohioartsbeacon on Instagram to see new artwork shared each day!

Governor Mike DeWine and his administration have released an executive order and guidance for performing arts venues. We’ve heard from a variety of arts leaders that this guidance is appreciated. It is a critical next step toward re-opening, and there is much more to be considered and done to prepare facilities, revise budget projections, and determine if it is fiscally possible to open venues’ doors. 
 
Despite today’s challenges, we must always, always acknowledge what is possible, what is good, and what is meaningful. We must remember that the sun will shine and have faith that we will recover. We know that times are hard for many of our colleagues. We understand the unknowns of the future are sometimes nearly debilitating, but we also know that when we work together, the arts are stronger.

During my calls, emails, and Zoom meetings with grantees and arts supporters, it has been so refreshing to hear your optimistic outlooks, your ideas for collaboration, your eagerness to share your stories, and—as is nearly always the case with arts folks—your ability to find hope, to pivot to new revenue models, to share back-of-house-everything to save money, and so much more.

Lastly, thank you for sharing the communications you’ve had with elected officials about public funding for the arts. You are the best arts advocates because you have authentic stories to tell—and they bear repeating. Your genuine voices and your positive, forward-thinking attitudes foster the exchange of information and ideas. Being solution-oriented produces cooperation and collaboration.

As we work through the challenges of 2020, I would not want to be anywhere else. Working with you inspires me to jump out of bed and head straight for the office—just a few hundred feet down the hall.

Until next time,

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Donna S. Collins

Executive Director



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