Butler County artists and arts organizations get grants from council

Artwork is projected on the outside of Fitton Center for Creative Arts, which will receive $40,000 through the Ohio Arts Council this year. This piece is by artist David Estep. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Artwork is projected on the outside of Fitton Center for Creative Arts, which will receive $40,000 through the Ohio Arts Council this year. This piece is by artist David Estep. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

The Ohio Arts Council announced more than $115,000 in grants to Butler County artists and art organizations in an effort to support the county’s creative sector.

Throughout the state, more than $18.2 million will be spread across 764 grant recipients this year, according to a press release. The bulk of that money will go toward what the Ohio Arts Council calls ‘sustainability’ initiatives — money to help the state’s largest arts organizations continue arts and cultural activities.

In this space, Hamilton’s Fitton Center for Creative Arts ($40,030), Oxford’s Community Arts Center ($18,148) and Miami University’s Performing Arts Series ($24,046) received the bulk of Butler County’s funding.

For Hamilton’s Fitton Center, this yearly grant from the Ohio Arts Council is one of four major funding sources for their day-to-day operations, according to the center’s executive director Ian Mackenzie-Thurley.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with the Ohio Arts Council,” Mackenzie-Thurley said. “They’re an incredible support of the arts not only in the Fitton Center and throughout Butler County, but the entire state of Ohio.”

Mackenzie-Thurley said the Ohio Arts Council has taken a lot of time to personally engage with local organizations throughout the state, which has had a “...really strong impact here in Butler County, Hamilton and the Fitton Center.”

For organizations like the Fitton Center, receiving grants through the state is a thorough process involving a detailed application, continual reporting on financials and artistic endeavors, and proving a significant community impact, Mackenzie-Thurley said.

Mackenzie-Thurley said the $40,000 grant matches what the center has been receiving throughout the pandemic as the center’s fundraising capabilities were hindered throughout the pandemic.

“We feel a valued part of the economy, we feel a valued part of the society,” Mackenzie-Thurley said. “We feel really valued. And we felt that, strongly, during COVID as well — that the arts needed to be supported and encouraged, and we’ve really appreciated that. And in turn, we’ve tried to serve the community as best we can.”

This year’s funding in Butler County also went toward short-term art initiatives, education projects, and funding for two of the county’s individual artists to “...provide support for master artists to work with apprentices to build understanding and proficiency in folk and traditional art forms,” the release said.

Donna Collins, the executive director for the Ohio Arts Council, said these grants play a vital part in the “...health and vitality of communities across the state.”

“By broadening access to the arts, the Ohio Arts Council is keeping our promise to strengthen our state and provide greater opportunity for Ohioans,” Collins said.

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