In this political season, government agencies are pounded with criticism; their relevance to the real lives of citizens is questioned, as is the worth of the services they provide. However, residents of Darke County as well as those living across the state truly benefit from the Ohio Arts Council, the state agency “that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.” OAC exists to provide “leadership and voice for the arts to transform people and communities.”
So how do those lofty words actually benefit our community? Well, to begin with, Darke County Center for the Arts has depended upon funding from the OAC for decades, and was recently awarded a grant of $14,112 underwriting their 2012-2013 season. Each dollar granted by OAC must meet a 1:1 local match, creating a partnership with DCCA and other recipient organizations to leverage additional sources of income and broaden bases of financial support to address local needs.
Now some might pose further questions: “What impact does DCCA’s programming have on our community; do arts presenters and artists provide anything worthwhile for the majority of Ohioans?” My answer to that question is a hearty “Yes, indeed! Let me count the ways.”
The arts can transcend the trials of daily life, providing comfort, hope, and joy which sustain the human spirit. Arts and arts education cultivate imaginative thinking, encourage problem-solving skills, and enable innovation. Students who participate in arts experiences improve not only their academic achievement, but also their chances for success in other realms of life. Citizens deepen their relationships with one another through shared arts experiences. Arts and culture contribute to communities economically by attracting businesses, generating tax revenues, and yes, creating jobs. (The nation’s nonprofit arts industry accounts for six percent of U.S. gross national product, a higher percentage than achieved by the construction industry.)
The Ohio Arts Council faithfully helps artists and arts presenters, providing wisdom and insight to assure success. Unlike citizen interaction with many state agencies, OAC staff assistance is actively sought and eagerly accepted, as those state workers at the Ohio Arts Council are committed to maintaining a vibrant and meaningful arts presence for all. Of course, state budget cuts have caused a reduction in funding for the OAC, but that dedicated and knowledgeable staff along with the somewhat diminished grant monies given out make it possible for DCCA and other similar entities to continue presenting outstanding artists in communities that could not otherwise financially support such presentations.
So, if you enjoyed guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel, you can thank the Ohio Arts Council. If you are looking forward to DCCA’s presentation of Grand Ole Opry star Marty Stuart or the Toledo Symphony Orchestra concert, you can thank the Ohio Arts Council. If your family appreciates the high quality productions of DCCA’s Family Theatre Series at a cost of $5 per ticket, you can thank the Ohio Arts Council. If your child is inspired by a DCCA Arts In Education performance (provided at no cost to students), you can thank the Ohio Arts Council.
The arts provides a lot of bang for each buck; less than one-twentieth of one percent of Ohio’s state budget is allocated for the arts. Support for the arts is a sound investment of public dollars, an investment which provides significant returns that benefit all Ohioans – culturally, educationally, and economically – benefits made possible by the meaningful contribution of the Ohio Arts Council.
Marilyn Delk is a Director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.