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Kettering’s Exceptional Legacy in the Arts

April 11, 2012

When Rosewood Arts Centre opened in the mid 1980s, it was an extraordinary opportunity to engage with the Miami Valley’s creative community.  Traditional art school programs such as Wright State University and the University of Dayton, among others, offered limited options for community members interested in the arts outside of a degree program.   Other community centers, such as the Middletown Art Center and the former City of Dayton’s Riverbend Arts Center, offered meaningful educational experiences in the arts, however Rosewood encompassed creative education beyond the visual arts, including performing arts, music, and the humanities.

The City of Kettering established Rosewood with the knowledge that a healthy and desirable city is one infused with a vibrant arts community.  In the late 1970s, a survey of Kettering residents proved this to be an accurate reflection, with 78% agreeing that the arts were an important part of the city.  Soon after, the Kettering City School District agreed to lease the City of Kettering the former Rosewood Elementary School, and the city’s arts facility was established.  Under the direction of the first Cultural Arts Superintendent, Connie Campbell, activity flourished, with hundreds of arts classes for youth and adults offered annually, a professional gallery program, a children’s theater, an annual arts festival, the creation of an outdoor performance venue, and much, much more.  Through this investment in facilities and arts programs, including CitySites, a percent for arts program, Kettering is now one of the most attractive and culturally distinct cities in the state of Ohio, with its reputation well-known beyond other similarly sized cities in the region.

The impact of the arts is undeniable. In a 2008 survey by the City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts department, 89% of residents agreed or strongly agreed that the cultural arts have benefits in their community.  To further quantify this support, the Ohio Arts Council—which provides operational support to Rosewood and many other non-profits in Ohio—just published several key points on the benefits of the arts, including its impact on the economy by attracting new businesses and retaining a skilled workforce; its impact on critical thinking and imagination for our youth and our future and present workforce; and the preservation of Ohio’s cultural heritage.   The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) also recently surveyed the value of the arts in communities and confirmed what many of us already know: that a healthy, vibrant community is one with an investment in arts and culture.

The tens of thousands of people that are impacted by Kettering’s arts annually are a testimony to the values of our community and the City’s investment in the arts over 30 years ago.  Rosewood fills a niche in the Miami Valley by being one of the only affordable, multi-faceted arts education and community resources available to everyone at all levels of creative practice. Now, Kettering is rich in creative business, including We Care Arts, Town and County Fine Art Center, Rua Studio Gallery and SparkArt Studio, and the hundreds of creative individuals employed to teach and create their artwork in Kettering.   If only other cities could be so lucky to have this abundance in the arts!  Learn more about Rosewood Arts Centre, the Fraze Pavilion, and the CitySites Public Art program by visiting www.ketteringoh.org

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