Making the Arts Accessible

 Making the Arts Accessible

Piqua Arts Council looks to the future while supporting community arts

By Beth Langefels

In 1990, a group of Piqua citizens decided the community needed an organization dedicated to the advancement of arts. These citizens went to the Piqua Chamber of Commerce and formed a new committee in 1991—the Piqua Arts and Humanities Council. This group, led by Ruth Koon, worked tirelessly to create an annual calendar that would bring arts-related events to the community.

Today, the Piqua Arts Council (PAC) is separate from the chamber and has become one organization with a mission to working to make the arts accessible to the community through education, support and presentation.

According to Jordan Knepper, the council executive director since 2013, the organization works at fulfilling this mission by hosting events, professional artist workshops, children’s programming and many opportunities for artists in all venues to exhibit and sell their wares. The council is also involved in a grant program—Miami County Artists—designed to help budding artists who want to pursue professional development or who are interested in trying a new art.

“I was involved with Culture Works in Dayton and they had something similar,” Knepper says. “I modeled our grants process after this program in Montgomery County.”

The grants are open to Miami County residents and, as a result of successful fundraising efforts, Knepper says the council will be giving grants ranging from $500 to $2,000. Grant winners must complete their projects in 2019 and follow up with a final report. The deadline for submission for these grants is Sept. 30.

PAC events include the annual and very popular Dancing with the Piqua Stars, Sounds of the Seasons concert, Rock Piqua and other special events such as the James Bond Experience and Piqua Arts Festival.

“Most of our events are annual,” Knepper says. “Our Norman Rockwell exhibit was a special event and this year we are also hosting an Arts and Ale Festival.”

Knepper works closely with his board of directors and with his volunteer committee members to plan the annual calendar. 

“We wanted to put together ‘Rock Piqua,’” Knepper says, “This is three concerts on the bank of the Miami River and we raise all the money to fund it. We average about 3,000 attendees per concert.”

Knepper says the Piqua Arts Council is looking toward the future by setting a goal to become a complete arts center—a place people in the community can visit year round to experience the arts.

“We are working with a consultant to look at spaces in the community for this center,” Knepper says. “We have been meeting regularly with the same group that was responsible for the Columbus Museum of Art and the Franklin Park Conservatory. We will still host all of our events, but we also want to have a home that our community can be proud of.”

Knepper says memberships are what keep the Piqua Arts Council alive and enables it to focus on artists and continue to serve the community.

“We encourage everyone to become members,” Knepper says. “They start at just $25 and they are the key to our success.”

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