DCCA News: State of the Arts


By Marilyn Delk

GREENVILLE—Along with almost everything else, the arts suffered greatly during the COVID pandemic; performing artists had no work and arts venues had no visitors as the world hunkered down to prevent the spread of the virus. As normalcy has returned, the arts sector has rebounded, but still lags behind other areas of our nation’s economy, in part because audience numbers have not yet returned to pre-pandemic numbers. The vast arts and culture economy includes theater, music, writing, visual arts, and museums as well as historic sites and natural parks; needless to say, the reach of the arts goes far beyond those individuals who make their living as participants in those diverse disciplines, but also touches people of all ages and backgrounds in many different ways.

Ohio has been a long-time leader among the states for its investment in the arts, an investment that has reaped many benefits; the arts generate nearly 290,000 jobs contributing almost $41 billion to the state’s economy. The Ohio Arts Council, the state agency that funds and supports the arts, has worked to counter COVID’s vast negative impact, including distributing $21.4 million in federal arts relief and helping alleviate cash flow issues within the sector during shutdowns due to the pandemic. Established in 1965 to foster development of the arts and assist preservation of Ohio’s cultural heritage, the Council strives to make arts activities available to a broad segment of society, as well as provide services enhancing growth of the arts. Although OAC’s relief efforts were critical to the survival of artists and arts organizations throughout the recent crisis and of great benefit to the ensuing rebound, the high level of artistic activity that existed throughout the state prior to the pandemic has proven difficult to achieve.

OAC provides funds benefiting arts activities in all of Ohio’s 88 counties, enriching lives throughout the state. The arts are crucial to a community’s vitality, bridging divides and bringing people together to share in positive experiences. Additionally, participation in the arts has been proven to improve students’ math and reading skills, leading to higher individual test scores and stronger graduation rates. By including the arts within our education system, creative critical thinking is enhanced, ultimately producing leaders in many disciplines throughout our society. In the current moment, the OAC is working to expand arts education throughout the state to combat pandemic-related learning loss that has affected students at all grade levels.

The arts industry is in the business of bringing joy to people, of lifting spirits and inspiring souls. In our community, Darke County Center for the Arts has been working to achieve that goal for almost 45 years. DCCA is among the many entities that has benefitted from the ongoing work of the Ohio Arts Council, receiving funds which enable the local organization to present outstanding artists in concerts at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall and other venues throughout the county, as well as to annually take high-quality performances to students in every grade level of all Darke County and Greenville City public schools.

So, bottom line, the arts provide myriad positive impacts, nurturing creativity, enhancing the economy, adding to the quality of life for all who partake. Many opportunities exist for you to benefit from the advantages of participation in the lush bounty of arts activities available within our community and beyond. By supporting the arts, you will not only discover many wonders to savor, but also help create a brighter future for us all.