Ohio Arts Council: Empowering the Arts, Preserving Heritage, and Supporting Creativity

Established in 1965, the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) has long played a pivotal role in fostering artistic development, preserving cultural heritage, and providing financial assistance to artists and arts organizations across the state. With funds from the Ohio Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the OAC functions through grant funding programs and a range of services to support and enhance the growth of the arts. This article combines the history of the Ohio Arts Council with the previously discussed information to provide a comprehensive overview of its mission, functions, leadership, and grant opportunities.

Functions and Grant Programs:

The Ohio Arts Council fulfills its mission through two primary methods: grants and services. 

The Council’s grant programs are designed to provide financial support to artists and arts organizations while making arts activities accessible to a wide audience. The grant programs administered by the OAC cover a diverse range of artistic disciplines, including visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, and multidisciplinary initiatives, as well as arts education. These grants assist in the creation, presentation, and promotion of artistic projects, helping artists bring their visions to life and enabling arts organizations to enrich the cultural landscape of Ohio.

In addition to grant programs, the Ohio Arts Council provides services that contribute to the growth and sustainability of the arts in the state. These services include technical assistance and resources for cultural facilities, professional development opportunities for artists and educators, and residencies and grants that ensure arts education is integrated into schools and communities.


The Ohio Arts Council is led by a dedicated board of 15 volunteer members appointed by the Governor of Ohio and confirmed by the Senate. The board members represent diverse geographic regions and possess expertise in various artistic disciplines. They play a crucial role in guiding the strategic direction of the OAC and ensuring its programs and services align with the needs of Ohio’s arts community.

At the operational level, the OAC is led by an executive director, Donna Collins, who oversees the agency’s day-to-day activities, program implementation, and overall management. Together with the board and a committed professional staff, the leadership of the Ohio Arts Council works tirelessly to support and promote the arts across the state.

Regionally, the point person for organizations in Northeast Ohio is Patrick Roehrenbeck. Patrick is a fantastic resource for organizations and artists familiar with the Ohio Arts Council, but also for those who are seeking insight and wisdom about whether they might be a good fit to apply for grant funds.

For over half a century, the Ohio Arts Council has been at the forefront of fostering artistic excellence and providing vital financial assistance to artists and arts organizations, ensuring that the arts thrive and are accessible to a broad segment of Ohio’s public. As a dedicated advocate and catalyst for the arts, the agency plays a vital role in keeping public funding for the arts strong, helping policymakers appreciate the economic, educational, and cultural value and impact of the arts in their communities and supporting the cultural landscape of the state.

Grant Opportunities Offered by the Ohio Arts Council:

Operating Support:

  • Sustainability: General operating support for organizations of all sizes. Deadline: February 1 of odd-numbered years (next deadline, 2025) for four-year awards. Large and Mid-Sized Organizations: Varies, based on formula. Small Organizations: May request up to $10,000.
  • Statewide Arts Service Organizations: General operating and partnership support for Ohio’s arts service organizations. Deadline: February 1 for every fourth year only (next deadline 2027). Varies, based on formula.

Project Support:

  • ArtSTART: General project support for organizations. Deadline: April 1 annually. Up to $5,000.
  • ArtsNEXT: Funding for bold, groundbreaking projects. Deadline: March 1 annually. Up to $25,000.
  • ArtsRISE: Expanding access and inclusion of historically underrepresented populations. Available until November 30 (or until funds are exhausted), at least 90 days prior to all planned activities. Up to $5,000.
  • Capacity Building: Engaging outside expertise to strengthen internal organizational knowledge. Deadlines: May 1 and November 1. Up to $5,000.
  • Ohio Artists on Tour: Artist fee support for presenters. Deadline: May 15 for fully executed contracts. One-third of fee (up to $10,000 per artist). Total max request: $15,000.

Arts Learning:

  • Arts Partnership: Support for arts education projects. Deadline: March 1 of odd-numbered years (next deadline 2025). Up to $25,000.
  • TeachArtsOhio: Customizable artist residencies for PK-12 students in Ohio’s schools. Deadline: February 1 annually. $350 per residency day.
  • Big Yellow School Bus: Supporting travel costs for school visits to arts and cultural activities. Available year-round, at least 8 weeks prior to travel. Up to $500.

Individual Artists:

  • Individual Excellence Awards: Recognizing individual artistic achievement. Deadline: September 1 annually (check website for category years). $5,000.
  • Artists with Disabilities Access Program: Professional development support for artists with disabilities. Deadlines: May 1 and November 1. $500 for emerging artists, up to $2,500 for professional artists.
  • Traditional Arts Apprenticeship: Sustaining cultural heritage through collaboration. Deadline: April 1 annually. Up to $4,000.
  • Artist Opportunities: Professional development and project support for individual artists. Deadline: May 1 annually. $500 for emerging artists, up to $2,500 for professional artists.

Applicants are encouraged to review the specific guidelines, eligibility requirements, and deadlines on the OAC’s website to explore the opportunities that best align with their artistic goals and aspirations.

Interested in learning more about the Ohio Arts Council? Contact the agency at communications@oac.ohio.gov to connect with staff and get to know your state arts agency.