Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Local arts are a top community draw, Ohio study finds

Stop that polka band, drop that corn dog, and hear the news: Ohio ranks second in the nation for attendance at art fairs and festivals.

Ohio residents love prime-time TV and restaurant dining, but they turn up their noses at poetry readings, ballets, and hip-hop concerts.

More than 70 percent of Ohio's school children go to art museums and theater performances.

Three out of four Ohioans think their state tax dollars should go to support the arts, but only 40 percent know they do.

Those are a smattering of facts collected over the last three years by the Ohio Arts Council, whose comprehensive “State of the Arts in Ohio Report” was released Tuesday. The document focuses on nonprofit arts groups; small community arts organizations; libraries, universities, and festivals; public and private schools; arts professionals, and Ohioans in general.

“We were able to gather information about the arts, public perception, and Ohio's cultural environment from every corner of the state,” said Wayne Lawson, executive director of Ohio Arts Council. “It will provide the council and state-level decision-makers with information necessary to make fact-based policy decisions.”

“We can use this to draw a realistic vision of the arts in Ohio,” said Gregg Dodd, a spokesman for the arts council. “Before, when we did strategic planning, we had to use assumptions rather than facts.”

Arts organizations can use the information to tailor their programs to the community, and educators and policy-makers can see the strengths and weaknesses in Ohio's current environment, Mr. Dodd said.

Findings will prompt discussion, which sometimes yields ideas, action, and improvements.

The State of the Arts Report finds that “faith-based institutions” are important venues for local arts and cultural events, and churches are among the top community gathering places, especially in small towns.

The state's schools yielded up interesting findings:

  • One in 10 have no funds budgeted for the arts.

  • Almost 90 percent have no full-time theater teacher.

  • Nearly half do not offer theater programs.

  • Public schools spend more money on art supplies, while private schools spend more on teaching staff.

  • Almost 64 percent offer no extracurricular visual arts program.

  • About one in four has one or two extracurricular music programs.

    Funding for Ohio's arts and cultural organizations did well in a national comparison. The average Ohio nonprofit arts organization in 1998 had revenues of $862,500 and expenses of $665,000. Average revenues per organization in Ohio were higher than in any nearby state except New York. Most public support came from local city funds, which exceeded state and federal funding.

    The greatest amount of revenue for nonprofit arts groups comes from earned income, at more than $81 million annually.

    The complete study is posted on the Ohio Arts Council web site, at A CD-ROM version also is available.

    The Ohio Arts Council is taking to the road this fall to introduce its findings at community workshops. Meetings are planned for Bowling Green, Findlay, and Lima; a regional workshop will be held in Toledo from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 24 at the Professional Building, 1838 Parkwood Ave. Required registration can be made by calling the arts council at 614-466-2613.

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