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Working to Keep Strong Public Funding for the Arts

Updated May 3, 2023

It’s one of my favorite times of year! We are in the middle of the State of Ohio’s budget development for the upcoming biennium. As you know the budget process leads to how much money the Ohio Arts Council will be able to grant over the next two years.

Public funding for the arts is strong in Ohio, and we are working every day to ensure it remains strong. Fortunately, that means I am writing from a place of gratitude, as Governor DeWine began by recommending an all-time high budget for the OAC and the Ohio House of Representatives recommended an additional $10 million for the agency on top of the Governor's proposal. For this, we are extremely thankful. Now, I know how busy you are and following the budget may not be on your radar, but we are just halfway through the process: 1) Governor’s executive budget (February); 2) Ohio House of Representatives' recommended budget (April); 3) Ohio Senate’s recommended budget (now); and, finally, 4) Conference Committee, when all three versions of the budget are considered and finalized (June).

All the same, we know financial need remains. Demand for OAC funding has increased dramatically over the last decade, with the agency now putting funds to work in all 88 counties and receiving nearly twice as many grant applications. Yes, nearly twice as many applications! Arts education is more critical than ever for Ohio’s schoolchildren, as we combat learning loss and seek to improve academic outcomes. We know, as arts leaders, that the arts have been resilient despite the pandemic and inflation, but some uncertainty remains for many of us.

For these reasons, the Ohio Arts Council has requested much needed additional funding this budget cycle. Now, as the budget undergoes consideration in the state legislature, several constituents have asked me what they can do to inform and educate their elected officials about the value and need for public funding for the arts through the OAC.

Especially because legislative districts have changed, it’s important to verify that you know who your state legislators are. The Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate make it easy to find and contact your legislators through their websites:

Ohio House of Representatives – State Representative Lookup

Ohio Senate – State Senator Lookup

Like every state budget cycle, the OAC has a set of talking points to help you shape your message. These talking points help us speak in a unified voice, while being true to our unique stories, communities, and organizations:

OAC Budget Request Talking Points

You have a story to tell, and I hope you will. Think about your impact as a nonprofit arts organization, artist, or arts educator. What “impact stories” do you have, and how can you bring the data you collect to life? It’s two sides of the same coin, working together to personalize and humanize the work you do in your community. You bring the "public funding for the arts" message to life around its big concepts—how the arts impact Ohio’s economy, educational outcomes, creativity in its workforce, quality of life, status as a tourism destination, and cultural vitality.

Do you feel ready to make the case for the arts -- to help maintain the OAC's recommended increases and to make the case to meet the remaining need? I'm ready and I join you in telling the good stories we have about the arts. Those stories take many forms: emails, phone calls, letters, visits, and so on. Now's the time to reach out to your state senator. With you, together, we can demonstrate why investing in the arts keeps Ohio a great place to live, work, visit, and raise a family.

Until next time,

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director 

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