Sustaining Ohio’s Arts and Culture Ecosystem

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Sustaining Ohio’s Arts and Culture Ecosystem conference. Image credit: Heritage Ohio

by Missy Ricksecker

On December 9, 2014, a sold-out crowd came together at the Ohio History Center for a first-of-its-kind statewide conference on sustainability strategies for the staff, boards, and volunteers of Ohio’s arts and cultural organizations. “Sustaining Ohio’s Arts and Culture Ecosystem,” hosted by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA), the Ohio History Connection (OHC), and Heritage Ohio, featured compelling presentations on the power of arts and culture to build strong, vibrant, and engaged communities, and practical advice on how to garner the support of funders and advocates for arts and cultural projects.

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Keynote speaker Jamie Bennett Image Credit: ideastream

Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America, delivered a stirring keynote address titled Creative Placemaking: Connecting Arts, Culture, and Community. From Sandy Duncan to Serena Williams, Bennett examined where and how we identify artists in our communities and how we can foster community development that drives our creativity as well as our local economies. Watch Bennett’s TEDx talk on creative placemaking here. As a follow-up to the keynote, panelists Jim Sweeney, executive director, Franklinton Development Association; Tim Tramble, executive director, Burton Bell Carr Development; and Matthew Fluharty, executive director, Art of the Rural, discussed their own successful creative placemaking projects, from reimagined neighborhoods in urban Cleveland and Columbus to rural towns and villages across the U.S. transformed by arts and cultural engagement.

The day began with Pecha Kucha-style presentations from Tim Peacock, executive director, Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville; Susan Gottlieb, curator and organizer, Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics; and Denise Rehg, vice president of development, Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. Speakers engaged the audience with stories and discussion about how cultural institutions–large and small, established and unconventional–connect people and build strong communities.

Breakout sessions focused on the nuts and bolts of how to create, maintain, and grow a healthy arts and cultural community. Experts from both sides of the funding equation discussed how to navigate funding sources and build strong advocacy networks in their communities.
Sessions included:

  • Financing Arts and Culture: Challenges, Opportunities, and Pitfalls, with Hugh Grefe, ‎senior executive director at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Toledo); Jason Rittenberg, research & resources coordinator, Council of Development Finance Agencies (Columbus); David Alexander, commercial banking relationship manager for the Eastern Ohio Region of U.S. Bank (Cambridge); and Mark Barbash, executive vice president for strategic initiatives, Finance Fund (Columbus)
  • Organizing and Coordinating Your Proposal with Your Strategic Plan, with Andy Vernhoff, local history coordinator, OHC; and Wendy Zucal, executive director, Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
  • Building a Strong Advocacy Network, with William Blair, legislative counsel, OCA; Tom Katzenmeyer, president, Greater Columbus Arts Council; and Linda Woggon, executive director, OCA
  • Arts and Cultural Facility Funding through the State Capital Bill, with Tom Johnson and Denny Griffith, co-chairs, Capital Arts and Culture Committee; Jeff Westhoven, deputy director, Ohio Facilities Construction Commission; and Stephen George, senior advisor to the CEO, OHC.
  • Fundraising Campaigns and Board Engagement, with Chris Schmenk, board member, and Cara Dingus Brook, president and CEO, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
  • Ohio Arts Council Resources, with Dan Katona, deputy director, OAC
  • Show Me the Money, with Pat Williamsen, executive director, Ohio Humanities Council

Participants gathered at the end of the day for a discussion about the OAC: Engaging Through Investment and Innovation, led by Donna Collins, OAC executive director, and Dan Katona, OAC deputy director. The interactive session was the culminating event of the OAC’s 2014 Fall Engagement Tour, which was designed to provide the agency with a better understanding of a broad range of Ohioans’ needs. The OAC staff plans on seeing you in 2015 as we travel the state to discover more of Ohio’s arts and cultural treasures!

Ohio Arts Council Engagement Tour

by Molly Rutledge

Donna, Janelle and Ken with Gallery Coordinator Tess Cortes at the Robert and Elaine Stein Gallery at Wright State University

Donna, Janelle, and Ken with Gallery Coordinator Tess Cortes at the Robert and Elaine Stein Gallery at Wright State University

This past November, teams of the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) staff hit the road and immersed themselves in the Ohio arts landscape. They traveled to the studios, stages, and classrooms of arts organizations across the state to personally meet and engage with constituents, arts leaders, and community members during the 2014 Fall Engagement Tour. Executive Director Donna Collins and Deputy Director Dan Katona both traveled to each of the four destinations accompanied by a rotation of OAC staff members. The team spent each day visiting a variety of destinations that make up each area’s greater arts community. During these stops, they met with the organizations’ staff, toured facilities, and witnessed art-making in action.

OAC Board member Jane Foulk welcomes folks to the engagement event at the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee

OAC Board member Jane Foulk welcomes participants to the engagement event at the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee

Evening public gatherings provided the greater arts community the opportunity to share visions, make suggestions, and engage in conversation. The evening engagements also included fun and informative Pecha Kucha-style presentations from the community’s artists and arts leaders. The Engagement Tour was designed to provide the agency with a better understanding of a broad range of Ohioans’ needs, including communities that have traditionally been underserved by OAC’s public funding. The team ventured to urban and rural Ohio including stops in Dayton, Shawnee, Canton, Piqua, and their surrounding areas.

Value

Brianna and Donna with gallery owner Tiffany Marsh and artist Pach Atomz at Bliss Art Studio and Gallery in Canton

Brianna and Donna with gallery owner Tiffany Marsh and artist Pach Atomz at Bliss Art Studio and Gallery in Canton

During the 2014 Fall Engagement Tour, the OAC staff interacted one-on-one with the people behind the art, performances, and projects. Many participants discussed personal visions for their communities. In Canton, for example, artist Pach Atomz shared his plans to invest in northeast Canton. Through Bliss Arts Studio’s projects, including a mural series, Atomz hopes to strengthen and improve a neighborhood through the transformative power of the arts. Some of the Engagement Tour destinations, like the Raise the Roof Arts/Sidney Historical Theatre in Sidney, do not currently receive funding from the OAC. While the team toured the facility, Raise the Roof Arts Executive Director Sarah Barr discussed the group’s current capital campaign, creative partnerships, and funding sources they use to supplement the ongoing theatre renovation project. These new relationships and conversations spread awareness about OAC funding to possible future constituents, and the OAC learned more about the current funding strategies and attitudes of arts organizations.

Donna and resident artist Mike Major at the Champaign County Arts Council in Urbana

Donna and artist Mike Major at the Champaign County Arts Council in Urbana

Staff will continue to cultivate these personal relationships and goals. Thanks to the Engagement Tour, the OAC became more actively engaged with communities throughout Ohio, and a wonderful dialogue began that will continue into 2015 and beyond. As a whole, communities were enthusiastic to learn and discuss the agency’s plans for the future. Audience member and presenter Tim Peacock, executive director of Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville, said during the evening engagement in Shawnee, “The OAC has been extremely supportive of my artistic endeavors, and I am very appreciative of what they provide for the Ohio arts community. I know everyone at the meeting really valued the opportunity to provide feedback. It was comforting to know the OAC is not making change for change’s sake.”  Many important desired changes were voiced, but the most common requests from the Engagement Tour included a simplified OAC grants system, an improved user-friendly website, more interaction with the OAC team in the field, and more data readily available about the arts regionally and statewide. The Ohio arts community validated the OAC’s current vision for the future of the agency and its constituents.

What’s Next

 The OAC has already started planning, and in some cases started implementing, many of the changes the community said they would like to see. OAC Constituent Investment/Grants Associate Janelle Hallett reflected, “The feedback we received very closely aligns with the OAC’s vision and changes for the future. I’m confident that where we are going is exactly what the Ohio arts community wants and needs.”

Technology The OAC was among the first state arts agencies to create an online grants system. Aligning with our history of successfully advancing with changing technologies, a new OAC grants system will be launched after the current grant season.“The new system will allow for online support material uploads, intuitive navigation, stronger data security, and improved mobile access,” said Deputy Director Dan Katona. “It will create a more streamlined and positive application experience.” In addition, new, user-friendly OAC website is in the early stages of planning and development.

Constituent Relations The fall Engagement Tour marks the first of many constituent visits across the state. The staff now works on an 80-10-10 model of time management: 80% will go into constituent-based work, 10% into professional development, and 10% into interacting in the field. Statewide visits will resume next year and will continue to give “a face” to the OAC.

Strategic Plan The 2015-2017 Strategic Plan for the OAC is underway and will reflect the voices of every Ohio arts community thanks in part to the visits, experiences, and conversations during the Engagement Tour. The plan will also include valuable data about the arts in Ohio which will be readily available to the public.

The 2014 Fall Engagement Tour gave the OAC team the tools to continue to be an active, diverse, thoughtful, and inclusive partner in the Ohio arts community. Most importantly, the OAC promises to continue the conversation. We hope you will too. An album of photos from the tour is available here.


Engagement Destinations at-a-glance

Dayton, November 17

OAC representatives

  • Donna Collins, Executive Director
  • Dan Katona, Deputy Director
  • Ken Emerick, Individual Artists/Percent for Art Director
  • Janelle Hallett, Constituent Investment/Grant Associate

Daytime engagement meetings

  • Wright State University’s Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries
  • Human Race Theatre Company
  • Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center
  • Downtown Dayton Partnership
  • CultureWorks
  • K12 Gallery for Young People
  • Dayton Visual Arts Center

Evening engagement

  • Where: University of Dayton River Campus
  • Hosts: OAC board members Sharon Howard and Jon Holt
  • Presenters:  Previous Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio winners Bing Davis, Neal Gittleman, and Michael Lippert

Shawnee, November 18

OAC representatives

  • Donna Collins, Executive Director
  • Dan Katona, Deputy Director
  • Kathy Signorino, Individual Artists/Percent for Art/Traditional Arts Apprenticeships Program Coordinator
  • Kim Turner, Constituent Investment/Grants Associate/ADA 504 Coordinator

Daytime engagement meetings

  • Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, Lancaster
  • Pioneer School, Zanesville
  • Zanesville Museum of Art
  • Muskingum County Community Foundation (MCCF), Zanesville

Organizations came together at MCCF and included representatives from:

  • Powerhouse of Southeastern Ohio, Inc.
  • Pioneer School
  • Artist Colony of Zanesville
  • Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics
  • Ohio Hill County Heritage Area Civic Tourism

Evening engagement

  • Where: Tecumseh Theater, Shawnee
  • Host: OAC board member Jane Foulk
  • Presenters: Stuart’s Opera House Executive Director Tim Peacock, Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics organizer Susan Gottlieb, and Michelle Ruskin-Robinson, Ohio Hill County Heritage Area Civic Tourism

Canton, November 21

OAC representatives

  • Donna Collins, Executive Director
  • Dan Katona, Deputy Director
  • Brianna Dance, Eastern Region Organizational Investment Coordinator
  • Justin Nigro, Executive Assistant/Leadership Liaison

Daytime engagement meetings

  • Just Imagine! at the Stark County Board of Development and Disabilities
  • Second April Galerie & Studios
  • Bliss Art Studio
  • Players Guild Theatre
  • Canton Museum of Art
  • Canton Symphony Orchestra

Evening engagement

  • Where: Cultural Center for the Arts
  • Host: OAC board member Robb Hankins
  • Presenters: Executive Director of the Akron Area Arts Alliance Toby Ann Weber, The Troll Hole Owner Sherry Groom, and artist Michele Waalkes

Piqua, November 25

OAC representatives

  • Donna Collins, Executive Director
  • Dan Katona, Deputy Director
  • Dia Foley, Constituent Investment/Grants Office Director
  • Jim Szekacs, Western Region Organizational Investment Coordinator

Daytime engagement meetings

  • Campaign County Art Council
  • Piqua Arts Council
  • Piqua Public Library
  • Troy-Hayner Cultural Arts Center
  • Raise the Roof Arts at the Sidney Historical Theatre

Evening engagement

  • Where: Edison Community College
  • Host: OAC board member Darryl Mehaffie
  • Presenters: Darke County Center for the Arts Executive Director Andrea Jordan and Artistic Director Keith Rawlins, Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper, Raise the Roof for the Arts Executive Director Sarah Barr

2014 Engagement Tour: Ohio Family Album

Dayton, November 17, 2014

Donna, Ken and Janelle brave the wintry weather at Wright State University

Donna, Ken, and Janelle brave the wintry weather at Wright State University

Donna, Janelle and Ken with Gallery Coordinator Tess Cortes at the Robert and Elaine Stein Gallery at Wright State University

Donna, Janelle, and Ken with Gallery Coordinator Tess Cortes at the Robert and Elaine Stein Gallery at Wright State University

Donna and Ken at the Human Race Theatre Company with Executive Producer Tara Lail

Donna and Ken at the Human Race Theatre Company with Executive Producer Tara Lail

Behind the scenes at Dayton's Schuster Center with Victoria Theatre Association Executive Director Ken Neifeld

Behind the scenes at Dayton’s Schuster Center with Victoria Theatre Association Executive Director Ken Neufeld

Ken and Donna talk with K12 Gallery for Young PeopleFounder and Executive Director Jeri Stanard in Dayton

Ken and Donna talk with K12 Gallery for Young People Founder and Executive Director Jeri Stanard in Dayton

Shawnee, November 19, 2014

Teaching facility at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio with Susan Talbot-Stanaway and teaching artist

Teaching facility at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster with Susan Talbot-Stanaway and teaching artist

Kim, Kathy, and Donna join Arthur Ketner for a tour of the Pioneer School in Zanesville

Kim, Kathy, and Donna join Arthur Ketner for a tour of the Pioneer School in Zanesville

Kathy and Donna with Arthur Ketner at the Pioneer School in Zanesville

Kathy and Donna with Arthur Ketner at the Pioneer School in Zanesville

At the Zanesville Museum of Art with Executive Director Laine Snyder

At the Zanesville Museum of Art with Executive Director Laine Snyder

Donna and Kathy view the pottery collection at the Zanesville Museum of Art

Donna and Kathy view the pottery collection at the Zanesville Museum of Art

OAC Board member Jane Foulk welcomes folks to the engagement event at the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee

OAC Board member Jane Foulk welcomes participants to the engagement event at the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee

Canton, November 24, 2014

Visiting the Just Imagine! program at Stark Co. Board of Developmental Disabilities

Just Imagine! program coordinator Therese Heitkamp introduces Donna to artists at Stark Co. Board of Developmental Disabilities in Canton

2nd April Galerie and Studios owner Todd Walburn with Donna and Brianna

Second April Galerie and Studios owner Todd Walburn with Donna and Brianna in Canton

Brianna, Justin, and Donna with Ohio Citizens for the Arts Legislative Counsel Bill Blair in Canton

Brianna, Justin, and Donna with Ohio Citizens for the Arts Legislative Counsel Bill Blair at the Cultural Center for the Arts in Canton

Behind the scenes at the Canton Museum of Art with Executive Director Max Barton

Brianna, Donna, and Justin behind the scenes at the Canton Museum of Art with Executive Director Max Barton

Brianna and Donna with gallery owner Tiffany Marsh and artist Pach Atomz at Bliss Art Studio and Gallery in Canton

Brianna and Donna with gallery owner Tiffany Marsh and artist Pach Atomz at Bliss Art Studio and Gallery in Canton

Piqua, November 25, 2014

Donna and resident artist Mike Major at the Champaign County Arts Council in Urbana

Donna and artist Mike Major at the Champaign County Arts Council in Urbana

Jim, Donna, and Dia with Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper

Jim, Donna, and Dia with Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper

Dia, Donna, and Jim with Piqua Public Library's Jim Oda

Dia, Donna, and Jim with Piqua Public Library’s Jim Oda

Dan and Donna at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy

Dan and Donna at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy

Sweet Dreams!

Sweet Dreams-until we meet again!