For art’s sake

Ohio’s proposed $2.4 billion capital budget bill, introduced this week, includes funding for typical brick-and-mortar projects like public school buildings, roads and sewers.
But House Bill 483 also backs projects that would help educate and train the state’s workforce, and support community centers for the arts.
The latter is where Hancock County made the preferred project list.
Two projects, the Marathon Center for Performing Arts, and the Kan Du Community Art Center, are both being recommended for state funding. Both are worthy of it, and we hope legislators approve.
Construction of the performing arts center is about to get underway on the site of the former Central Middle School on West Main Cross Street in Findlay. The school’s auditorium has been salvaged and will become the centerpiece for most things music, theater and arts in the community.
A state capital arts and culture committee, which considered 171 requests from around Ohio, has recommended $800,000 for the $11 million performing arts project.
The other project involves a planned expansion of the Kan Du Studio, which is run by Blanchard Valley Industries and is already producing great art at 329 S. Main St.
Resident artists with developmental disabilities use recycled materials to produce a wide variety of artwork that is featured in art exhibitions and is available for sale.
Now, the vision is to create an even more inclusive visual arts center for artists of all ages and abilities.
If the capital bill is OK’d, the Kan Du Center would receive $300,000 in funding. That would go a long way toward the $780,000 cost of expansion.
The time couldn’t have been better for the two Findlay projects.
Community projects, in general, and those involving the arts, in particular, are often among the first to be cut when state funds are limited. The state did not issue bonds for a capital budget from 2007 to 2012 due to the recession.
While capital returned in 2013 and 2014 for colleges and universities, this is the first time since 2006 the state has been able to allocate money to community projects.
In all, $33 million is being set aside for 66 arts projects.
The funding of Hancock County’s two arts centers would provide a good return on investment for the state and the community.
Both are located downtown, an area that some officials hope to continue to develop into an arts district.
Once completed, the centers will provide opportunities for years to come not only for students of the arts and established artists, but also for those who enjoy seeing great art being made and performed.

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