Last Thursday, Culture Works unveiled the new Cultural Plan for the Dayton Region, Culture Connects 20/20, at a gathering of more than 150 community members at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. Since then the Cultural Plan has been the front-page story of Dayton Daily News twice–first on Friday, April 24, then again today.
Culture Connects 20/20’s release comes at a critical moment for the region’s arts sector. Earlier this month, the Ohio Board of Education voted to eliminate the “5 of 8 rule”–a regulation that required schools to have at least five of these eight positions for every 1,000 students: art, music, and physical-education teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers, and visiting teachers. Critics of the decision argue that the districts with the fewest resources will be the most likely to cut funding to arts programming, leaving already underserved students with even less access to transformative arts education.
This latest development is only one of many blows the Dayton Region’s arts sector has taken in recent years. Since the economic downturn, area arts organizations have seen some of their biggest funders turn their attention to other sectors or leave the region altogether. As today’s Dayton Daily News article points out, funding to Culture Works has been cut by more than half over the past decade. A plan to reinvigorate the cultural sector–to not only preserve it for future generations but to reinvent it–has never been more crucial.
Culture Connects 20/20 is a 10-15-year plan to secure new public and private funding for the cultural sector, to help cultural organizations become more sustainable and more responsive to community needs and interests, and, above all, to turn the cultural sector into a driving force of the region’s economy. By embedding arts and culture into every facet of life, from education to workforce development, we can create a culture of creativity that turns the Dayton Region into a thriving cultural mecca.
Regional leaders from the arts and business communities are already stepping up to put the plan into action. At last week’s Cultural Plan Rollout, Culture Works announced that Montgomery County Commissioner Deborah Lieberman and Morris Furniture Company President Larry Klaben–who have successfully co-chaired the Culture Connects 20/20 Steering Committee–will co-chair the Culture Connects 20/20 Implementation Committee.
Become a part of the next evolution of the Dayton Region. Read the full plan, watch interviews with regional leaders, and leave your comments at cultureconnects2020.org.