TACLing Collaboration

Posted by Mr. Marc D. Folk, Dec 07, 2011

Marc Folk

"There was nothing to do here.” That was Toledo’s myth.

Sure, if you bought it as it is often packaged, you would see Toledo, OH as a barren, struggling post-industrial city with a bleak future and little cultural vitality. Toledo is near bull’s eye center in the “rust belt” region, frequently discounted on a whim and cast with a left-for-dead mentality too often projected on to mid-size Midwestern cities.

Yes, it is true that our community faces stern economic challenges, scant resources, and is faced with its own reinvention. But too, we are graced with profound, rich, and growing artistic heritage and cultural identity.

And let’s not forget, Toledo is a labor town, a little hard work has never scared us.

Scratch just below the soot of our “rust belt” stereotypes, and you’ll see a burgeoning artist community and growing public participation in the arts. Scratch a little deeper and discover that the Toledo Museum of Art was voted America’s favorite museum (it's true) and that its halls hold the bulk of your art history book.

A little past that and you’ll see the world class Toledo Symphony Orchestra recently performed, by invitation, at Carnegie Hall.

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New to the Community: A Love Story Set to Beethoven

Posted by Jenifer Thomas, Apr 18, 2013

Jenifer Thomas Jenifer Thomas

I am a fairly recent transplant to a city with a vibrant arts scene chock-full of healthy arts organizations, beautiful parks and architecture, wonderful public art, a squadron of young professionals getting involved, and our very own culinary smorgasbord: a signature chili (you either love it or you hate it), mouthwatering ice cream, and questionable breakfast meat.

Where is this cultural mecca, you might ask? It’s Cincinnati, OH.

Cincinnati’s varied offerings come with an equally diverse community of people. But like many cities, Cincinnati could get to the next level by seeing art and artistic involvement that connects all of us, not just the arts-prone.

The Cincinnati ethos is evolving, and many organizations are doing great things to get engagement that is more reflective of our community and encourages we locals to put our personal stamp on the Queen City.

Recently, after two years of living in Cincinnati, I fell in love. With Cincinnati.

It happened in the most unlikely of places: the concert hall.

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What Would Make Where You Live a Better Place?

Posted by Ms. Ruby Lopez Harper, Apr 15, 2013

Ruby Harper Ruby Harper


So when I was asked to write the opening post to “set the tone” for this year’s Emerging Leaders Blog Salon—I did what any self-respecting, confident, and capable individual would do—I PANICKED!! What would I write about? What would I say? Why would people care? What if I said something wrong? Then I took a deep breath…and another…and then I started: This year’s Emerging Leaders Blog Salon extended invitations to submit posts responding to “What would make where you live a better place or bring it to the next level?” We received more than 30 submissions. The depth and breadth of the responses will make you laugh, cry, but most importantly, they will make you THINK, WONDER and they will INSPIRE! Hopefully—at least, that’s what the Emerging Leaders Council intends. This year, for me, has been about taking action—I was standing in a line at the BMV (or DMV, depending on where you live) and I turned towards one of the TV screens playing and a message —clear as day, white letters on a black screen—ominous in their intent and direct in their purpose: INACTION IS NOT AN OPTION. 

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Shared Outcomes and Collective Impact for Scaling Up

Posted by Victor Kuo, Dec 05, 2012

Victor Kuo

What are funders interested in scale and results talking about these days? A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Grantmakers in Arts 2012 Conference in Miami.

This year’s conference theme was “Forging Connections,” and I found the notion of connections incredibly relevant for scaling impact. Creating vibrant, livable communities is the responsibility of not just one project or organization, but rather partners across a sector and the entire community working together for change.

We explored an example of a community aspiring to build connections involving entire sectors, such as the arts, education, and workforce development.

The Greater Cincinnati area has a strong history of collaboration. Leading funders, such as the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, are considering ways to take a collective approach to achieving social impact.

Specifically, they are talking about a collective impact approach described in “Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work” that identifies five key factors to facilitate change:

1) a common agenda,  2) shared measurement, 3) mutually reinforcing activity, 4) continuous communication, and 5) backbone support.

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Planning That Gets You New Partners (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Mr. Robb Hankins, Apr 27, 2012

Robb Hankins

Most community leaders don’t think about the arts much and most don’t really believe there is a link between arts and economic development.

I try to change that by hosting my own arts and economic development planning process, but I do it on a shoe string—quick, dirty, and cheap. It’s exhausting, but totally worth it.

Last year we started 20/20 Vision—the ten year plan for arts and economic development. On March 20, 2012 we unveiled our ten strategies: five community strategies and five county-wide.

20/20 Vision has already dramatically changed the landscape for the arts in Stark County (Ohio). We have new partners (and new dollars) available for the arts from places we’d never touched before.

Business leaders like Robert Timkin, managing director of Cormony Development, are leading the effort by planning to increase creativity and innovation in business through arts-based workshops, and increase cultural tourism by creating a marketing partnership between five major nonprofit tourism attractions in downtown Canton.

This strategic marketing partnership hopes to dramatically increase the number of visitors and increase overnight stays, as well as create day trip opportunities for arts destinations throughout the rest of the county.

Here’s the quick story on how we did it:

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At the Crossroads of the Rustbelt and the Artist Belt

Posted by Ms. Roseann Weiss, Apr 24, 2012

Roseann Weiss

In the second week of April, when St. Louis was blooming with an early spring, 292 people came for Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads—an arts-based community development convening—to be part of the discussion about the arts and social change.

This conference combined the three Rustbelt to Artist Belt meetings that took place in Cleveland and Detroit with the At the Crossroads convening that took place in St. Louis in 2010.

I proposed this combination when attending the conference in Detroit and the idea stuck with Seth Beattie from Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), the organizer of Rustbelt. With phone calls and emails back and forth and with a grant from the Kresge Foundation, we did it!

I wondered whether our gamble—combining the people who talk about creative regeneration of neighborhoods in the Rustbelt with people who practice community arts and social engagement—would pay off.

Would we all be able to significantly connect these threads that make up the fabric of positive social change?

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The Power of Local Arts Leadership

Posted by Ursula Kuhar, Apr 19, 2012

Ursula Kuhar

Local. Public. Value. Arts.

Try creating a cohesive, comprehensive sentence that reflects our field using these four words.

These simple words that occupy so much complexity within our industry, and an entire day of dialogue at the first Americans for the Arts Executive Directors & Board Member Symposium held on April 15.

It was an exhilarating experience to participate in a peer exchange with diverse leaders from organizations around the country including Americans for the Arts President & CEO Bob Lynch, Jonathan Katz of the National Association of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), and Mary McCullogh-Hudson of ArtsWave.

In order to frame our work as arts leaders forging into a “new normal” in the industry, Bob shared the history and context of the local arts movement in America, rooted in the discovery of the Americas to the first established arts council in 1947 by George Irwin in Illinois, to the evolution of today’s local arts enabling organization that provide cultural programming, funding, community cultural planning, and of course, advocacy activities.

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The Arts Ripple Effect Inspires Cincinnati Filmmakers

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Mar 07, 2012

A poster for "Radius: A Short Film."

A fascinating new project out of Cincinnati just recently caught my attention.

Filmmakers were inspired by The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts, a study conducted by local arts agency ArtsWave in 2008.

The study and report were "designed to develop an inclusive
 community dialogue leading to broadly shared public responsibility 
for arts and culture in the region" and "concluded that [their] work with the community through arts and
 culture must be based on a foundation that incorporates a deeper 
understanding of the best way to communicate with the public in
 order to achieve that shared sense of responsibility."

Calling it "the world’s first game-sourced movie," Radius: A Short Film, created by Possible Worldwide, a WPP Digital company, with multiple Cincinnati-based partners, "the film was shot in and around Cincinnati during MidPoint Music Festival and other arts events."

What makes it especially unique is that the film was created by editing "from more than 2,000 unique pieces of crowd-sourced content" gathered using a smartphone app called SCVNGR.

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Rallying Against "Most Miserable City" Rankings

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Feb 24, 2012

Tim Mikulski

Earlier this month, Forbes released another one of its ranking lists, which I assume are only created in order to gain attention and web traffic---"America's Most Miserable Cities."

This list is one that tends to pick on the same communities that have been forced into our heads as places you don't want to live, work, go to school, etc., yet, there are residents doing all of these things in each and every one of them.

As someone who used to work in Camden, NJ, one of those cities that is constantly appearing on Forbes' similar "America's Most Dangerous Cities" list, I understand what that label can do to the residents of a community that already can't seem to catch a break.

Which leads me to the fact that Forbes declared Miami #1 on the "America's Most Miserable Cities" list. Never mind the fact the author of the main post is their sports business writer, but the fact that such a vibrant city, known for its arts and culture is #1 on that list is a bit surprising.

Well, here is the criteria they used: "We looked at 10 factors for the 200 largest metro areas and divisions in the U.S. Some are serious, like violent crime, unemployment rates, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices, and political corruption. Other factors we included are less weighty, like commute times, weather, and how the area’s pro sports teams did. While sports, commuting, and weather can be considered trivial by many, they can be the determining factor in the level of misery for a significant number of people."

Very scientific.

But there's more---a number of the cities on this list also appear on the "most dangerous" list, too. Talk about kicking a community when it's down.

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Creative Partnerships Make Miracles Happen (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Mr. Robb Hankins, Feb 09, 2012

Robb Hankins

In downtown Canton, OH, through an ongoing partnership with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (and its Special Improvement District), we’ve spent the last five years creating the Canton Arts District.

The results have been totally amazing and changed everyone’s thinking about this downtown coming back.

In 2005, we started with three strategies: live music, galleries/artist studios, and public art. We had only one art gallery----and not a single artist studio.

Today, the Canton Arts District has 26 galleries and studios.

The first art studios opened when local developer Mike King bought an old building down on 4th Street NW, deciding to convert it into Studio 5. It would have five artist studios downstairs and five independent artist apartments upstairs. ArtsinStark partnered with King on spreading the word and providing a small rent subsidy for the first year.

By the time Studio 5 opened every unit was rented out and there were eight artists on the list hoping for another building. Here’s a video of how Studio 5 looked when it was just opening

As the Canton Arts District began to take shape we needed a way to let people know, so we decided to host a monthly party----First Friday.

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Backyard Diplomacy: International Cultural Engagement & Local Arts Agencies (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Hannah Jacobson, Jan 11, 2012

Hannah Jacobson

Quick -- point to Dublin, OH on a map.

How about Clinton County, MI; Douglasville, GA; or Missoula, MT? (Zero points if one of those cities is your hometown).

For those of us with a few years between elementary school geography and the present, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise if these seemingly arbitrary locations elude us.

Some residents of Taiwan, however, might find Dublin as easily as they would their own hometowns. It’s a similar story for students in Shiga, Japan with Clinton County; Denmark with Douglasville; and Neckargemün, Germany with Missoula.

In Americans for the Arts’ December webinar, produced in tandem with the special report entitled Backyard Diplomacy, we found out that cultural exchange—taking various forms of art that are from, inspired by, or headed to a distinctly foreign locale—is happening every day, in cities small and large, through local arts agencies (LAAs).

The major lesson? LAAs of any size and shape can and should feel empowered to take a field trip around the world.

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Freedom from Budget Cuts

Posted by Justin Knabb, Jul 01, 2011

Fourth of July celebrations started early for several states this week, as arts advocates scored major victories in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina.

Ohio Citizens for the Arts is reporting that the state arts council will enjoy a 30.5% increase in funding for the 2012-13 biennium – 62.1 percent more than Governor John Kasich had proposed. The current allocation for FYs 2010-11 is $13.2 million, with the governor proposing only $10.6 million for the upcoming biennium. However, legislatures decided to increase that number to $17.2 million, and the governor agreed!

In Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives had proposed a 70% reduction to the $9 million budget of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts- a stark contrast to Governor Tom Corbett’s request for essentially flat funding. The Senate did not concur, and reinstated the funding: $8.2 million for arts grants, and $866,000 for arts agency administration. The House acquiesced, and the amended budget was sent to the governor for approval.

Finally, the New Jersey Legislature was pushing for a 27% cut to the $16 million budget of the state arts agency, but Governor Chris Christie removed language in the final budget that would have enacted those cuts. And, as most are already aware, South Carolinians scored a major victory as the legislature voted to override Governor Nikki Haley’s line-item veto of arts funding, thus preserving the $1.9 million allocation to their arts commission.

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Public Support for the Arts - A Success Story

Posted by Ms. Karen Gahl Mills, Jun 29, 2011

Karen Gahl-Mills

With each day’s news, we read about further reductions in public arts funding at the state and federal level. We are all challenged to, yet again, help our public officials see the value in supporting institutions such as our state arts councils, under threat as our states look for solutions to budget gaps.

Permit me to provide a glimmer of hope in this otherwise dark time, and let me tell you about the success story that is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

In 2006, after ten years of hard work, a broad and diverse group of community leaders came together to pass a dedicated, 10-year cigarette tax for arts and culture in the county that includes and surrounds Cleveland.

Overnight, our region moved from having one of the lowest per capital local investments in arts and culture--64 cents--to having one of the highest--$13.50 at last count.

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The Arts Create Extraordinary Shared Experiences

Posted by Ms. Margy Waller, Jun 07, 2011

Margy Waller

We love the stuff that brings people together to experience special and fun things that can only happen here.

On Tuesday, May 3, legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the Cincinnati Symphony for almost 3,500 people, filling every seat in our beautiful, historic Music Hall.

The performance was so highly-anticipated that it was sold-out for months in advance, leaving hundreds of fans without tickets.

So, our community leaders came together to fashion a creative response to this dilemma -- making sure that people all around could share the music.

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Yes, Corporations Still Fund the Arts (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Jaclyn Wood, Jun 01, 2011

Spain's Landarbaso Choir

As this title suggests, corporations ARE still funding the arts, and they’re finding creative ways to do so.

Recent funding cuts have hit mid-sized and small cities throughout the country particularly hard. This is especially true in rural and underserved areas.

Although not quite underserved/rural, Cincinnati has become a great example of how cultural events, festivals, concerts, and competitions bring visibility, income, and fun to communities throughout the country.

Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) recognizes the unique influence of the arts as well. The company has become the first major corporate sponsor for the World Choir Games 2012. The biennial choral music competition is the largest of its kind in the world and is expected to draw some 90,000 people to the Cincinnati area next summer. 

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Business + Arts = Places We Want to Be

Posted by Ms. Margy Waller, May 31, 2011

Visitors enjoy "the party on the painting."

One night in mid-May, the coolest place in Cincinnati was a party on top of a painting.

It was Cincinnati Fashion Week and we were all smack in the intersection of art and business. We went to parties celebrating Andy Warhol in the former Contemporary Arts Center, talks about fashion art at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and more.

Thursday night, on a beautiful summer evening, Landor Associates (a global branding and design firm with offices in London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Cincinnati and more) hosted a party celebrating graphic fashion.

Landor Cincinnati is perfectly positioned to host a fashion party because it’s located in one of our city’s iconic department store buildings. Built in 1878, the Shillito’s Department Store location was a premiere shopping destination for the local business that became Macy’s (also headquartered here in Cincinnati). 

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Why Does Your Business Value the Arts?

Posted by Jessica Gaines, Dec 15, 2016

In their acceptance speeches at the 2016 BCA 10 Awards, twelve industry leaders spoke about what being honored at the 2016 BCA 10 means to them and why they encourage and seek out opportunities to bring the arts into their worlds.

"We believe that everyone in this room is art. And when art and the folks in this room come together, we spark innovation; we inspire youth. We celebrate and heal communities. We stimulate economies. We sustain this great nation."

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Nation’s United Arts Funds Raise $77.3 Million in 2018

Monday, April 22, 2019

Arts Alliance Tulsa Mural 2017

United Arts Funds are private organizations that raise money for the arts, work to broaden support for the arts, encourage arts attendance and participation, promote excellence in the arts and arts management, and ensure that arts organizations are financially stable.

Americans for the Arts Joins International Sculpture Day

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

1.8 Beijing by Janet Echelman

Began in 2015 by the International Sculpture Center, IS Day is an annual celebration event held worldwide to further the ISC’s mission of advancing the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society.


2018 Honoree -


Marc D. Folk is the Executive Director of The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. Under his leadership, The Arts Commission has instituted initiatives bridging economic and community development through the arts. A past president of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts and co-chair of the Toledo Area Cultural Leaders, Marc received the Governor's Award for Arts Administration and was recognized as the University of Toledo's Outstanding Alumnus in the Arts. He has served as a grant panelist for the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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