Facts About The Ohio Arts Council

The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) is a state agency that provides voice and leadership through the arts to enrich lives and build vibrant, creative communities. With funds from the Ohio Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the OAC provides financial assistance to artists, arts organizations, schools and other entities engaged in cultural programming to strengthenOhioculturally, educationally and economically.

The OAC board is composed of 15 voting members appointed by the governor and four non-voting members, two each from the Ohio Senate and the House of Representatives. The board is responsible for final approval of all funding requests. All board meetings are open to the public with agendas posted on the OAC website prior to each meeting.

The OAC executive director and staff members assist artists, schools and a wide range of organizations by guiding them through the application process and by working with panel consultants to arrive at the funding recommendations presented to the OAC board.

Jeffrey A. Rich was named chair of the OAC board in May 2011 by Governor John Kasich. Barbara S. Robinson, who served as chair of the board for 13 years, is chair emeritus.

Julie S. Henahan is the fifth executive director of the agency, hired by the OAC board in September 2006. Ms. Henahan is a long-tenured member of the staff with more than 27 years of experience as an arts administrator. From 1994 to 2002, Ms. Henahan served as the OAC grants office director where she was responsible for the development of all procedures and policies related to the grant review process and managed the agency’s internal accounting of state and federal subsidy funds. She is currently a board member for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, as well as a member of its National Standard Working Group.


The OAC receives biennial appropriations from the Ohio General Assembly, and in FY2012/2013 funding for the OAC is $17,211,408. This funding represents a 30.5 percent increase over the final 2010/2011 appropriation of $13.2 million. The agency budget is less than 1/32 of 1 percent of the total state budget of $55.8 billion (FY2012). Based on the FY2012 budget,Ohio’s annual per capita spending on the arts was just $0.66, ranking the OAC 28th in per capita funding among the 50 states and six territories.

In FY2011, the OAC awarded $4.6 million in grants toOhioartists, schools and organizations producing or presenting arts programming. The OAC received $14.7 million in requests for support, but was only able to fund 31 percent of the dollars requested. A total of 1,165 applications were submitted to the agency in FY2011, of which 623 were funded.


The OAC receives federal support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). NEA funding for FY2012 is $1,018,100—more than 10 percent of the entire OAC FY2012 budget. For the second year in a row,Ohiowas awarded the second largest NEA grant in the nation. Funding has been authorized by the NEA for specific programs, including the State Arts Plan, Arts Education, Arts in Underserved Communities, Folk Arts Partnership and Poetry Out Loud. NEA funding for OAC programs has increased 32 percent ($330,000) since state FY2000.


An important feature of OAC funding is that most grants are awarded on a matching basis. That means arts council funding (public dollars) must be matched on a 1:1 basis by other resources—public or private—thus requiring organizations to leverage new sources of income that results in a broadening of their bases of financial support, addressing local needs, and expanding the reach and impact of state arts funding across Ohio. OAC grants are matched by $84 to every one OAC dollar (FY2011).

The OAC offers support through a wide range of programs for organizations and individuals, including the Arts Learning programs of Arts Partnership, Artist in Residence and Artist Express, and the Individual Artist programs of Individual Excellence, Traditional Arts Apprenticeships and Artists with Disabilities Access. The Project Support program supports new organizational applicants as well as innovative Creative Economy partnership grants. The Building Cultural Diversity program supports organizations rooted in culturally specific communities. The OAC also provides essential operating support forOhioarts and cultural institutions of varying sizes through its Sustainability and Arts Access programs.

Other significant agency programming occurs through the OAC’s Riffe Gallery, located in downtownColumbus, andOhio’s Percent for Arts Program. Agency outreach projects include sponsorship of the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts inOhioand the ArtsinOhio.com statewide arts and cultural events calendar.

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