On October 20, 2023, CreativeOhio hosted our inaugural CreativeOhio Champion Advocacy Awards Luncheon in Poland, Ohio, to honor the Advocacy Champions in the Mahoning Valley Region of Ohio. This event brought together more than 150 people from across Ohio to honor Rebecca Keck, Daniel Rauschenbach, Huntington, Jim Tressel, and Dr. Louis A. Zona for their contributions to arts advocacy. It also caught the attention of several local elected officials, who came to honor these awardees, including Representative Al Cutrona from House District 58, who presented the winners with official recognition signed by himself and Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Jason Stephens.

Image of guests at the CreativeOhio Champion Advocacy Awards showing A Power Beyond One.

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Our winners each graciously accepted their awards, and within their stories, they shared how advocacy looks in their lives. A Living Advocacy.

You too, can take part in Living Advocacy for the arts and creative sector in Ohio, first by becoming a member of CreativeOhio, and then take these actionable steps provided by our winners:

Living Advocacy is sharing your expertise

As a lifelong painter, Daniel Rauschenbach, the winner of our Artist Champion Award is active in his community, and dedicates his days to educating young people at SMARTS, and mentoring his peers.

“We have so many working artists. Performing, sculpture, ceramics, painting. I try to give them the best tips on where to sell, how to sell, how to profit from their lives. We work together, and it’s us as a whole that makes this happen.”

Living Advocacy is recognizing that you’re a critical part of Ohio’s economy

Rebecca Keck, our Arts Educator Champion, is President and Founder of Students Motivated by the Arts (SMARTS) is known for her advocacy of art-focused teaching and learning. But in her storied career, she’s taking a stand that arts are integral to the creative economy of the communities they serve.

“All we can ask is you continue to talk about the arts-rich community that we’re building. We’ve brought more than $5.5 million in revenue to SMARTS, and we are a large employer in this creative economy.”

Living Advocacy is engaging your community

Our Business Advocate Champion, Huntington, serves its shareholders—and its communities—through providing funding and belief in the arts. Xxxxx spoke, sharing this.

“By supporting the arts, Huntington is doing a small part to help the needs of the Valley. Our purpose is to look out for all people, to help the arts and businesses thrive, and strengthen the communities that we serve.”

Living Advocacy is using your voice

Jim Tressel, our Individual Advocate Champion, is well-known for leading his football teams to win three National Championship Games, but the former President of Youngstown State University’s impact goes far beyond the football field. In his tenure at YSU, he ensured that arts and culture were paramount to the university, and helped to form The Cultural Alliance, an organization that believes that vibrant arts, cultural, and community events play a pivotal role in regional revitalization efforts and support diversity, vitality, and prosperity.

And his leadership continues with advocacy.

“We have to remind ourselves that we have to all work together. We have to talk about the impact we want to make in our regions, and to help spread the news and tell the story. That’s what advocacy is all about. It’s my honor and my privilege to, any time I’m ever asked, to advocate for the arts, wherever we happen to be.”

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