In May 1967, a group of community persons interested in the arts met with representatives
from existing arts organizations to organize a Summer Arts
Festival under the leadership of Jackson Wiley, then conductor of the
Springfield Symphony Orchestra. The Summer Arts Festival was created to provide summer activities
for the community and arts activity for local arts organizations during
their down season.
In 1971, the group was encouraged by the Ohio Arts Council to adopt plans to
become a year-round operation and to develop programs in touring and arts
In 1974, the organization hired a full-time Executive Director (J. Chris
Moore) to provide continuity for the group and the arts festival, to work
with the council in the development of programming, and to organize
In 1975, the Springfield Arts Council began its Arts in the Classroom
program with a month- long "Appalachian Experience" at Northridge Elementary
School and several week-long poetry residences funded by the Ohio Arts
In 1976, The Springfield Arts Council added an expanded format of arts
education programs to its roster in an attempt to offer programs to schools
throughout Clark County. It also sponsored a second eight-week dance
residency and added an additional dance program and a performance by the
Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival to form the initial stages of the Winter
Artist Series. This was accomplished through encouragement and funding
from the Ohio Arts Council, rather than from a strong community need.
The Summer Arts Festival and Arts in the Classroom programs continued to
grow as did support from local and state government and the community.
However, the Winter Artist Series did not grow, and more and more funding
was needed to subsidize the gap left by low ticket sales.
In 1981, the Springfield Arts Council decided to attempt programming of a
more popular nature. Series and single ticket sales increased sharply and
progressed on a steady incline until the 1985-86 season when Memorial Hall
was closed. The series was moved to North High School, until the Clark State
Performing Arts Center was opened in downtown Springfield in 1993. In recent
years, the name was changed to the Broadway and Beyond Series with Season
Extras and continues to be the premier series of touring arts attractions in
The Springfield Arts Council has sponsored four affiliate artist residences
underwritten by London, Ohio's Pantasote Company; Gem Savings Association;
and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation. Each was effective as a quality "arts
outreach" program, as was "Kaleidoscope", a hands-on creative arts workshop
sponsored here in August, 1982, during the 1988 Summer Arts Festival, and in
May, 1994, by Hallmark Cards. The Springfield Arts Council also researched
and published a downtown walking tour of Springfield Architecture. In 1992,
it hosted a visit of Artrain with an exhibit of antique toys. The
Springfield Arts Council has, in the past, received support from the City of
Springfield's general operating fund and the Clark County Board of
Commissioner's Federal Revenue Sharing Fund. It annually receives support
from the Ohio Arts Council, and from local foundations, businesses, and
individuals, along with passing the hat during intermission at all Summer
Arts Festival performances.
The Council earns revenue by renting costumes, selling advertising space in
its Summer Arts Festival and Broadway and Beyond Series program books,
selling concessions and artist merchandise, and raffle sales at the Summer
Arts Festival. The largest income producer continues to be ticket sales to
Broadway and Beyond Series events. Arts in the Classroom is funded in part
by grants from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and school fees, which
represent approximately 75% of the cost. A Springfield Arts Council
Endowment is managed by The Springfield Foundation, with interest from the
endowment helping to
support the annual budget.
In addition, the Springfield Arts Council conducts several fund-raising
events. Past events have included tribute shows to various composers, a New
Year's Eve Party at Upper Valley Mall, "Gaier's Designer Showhouse", a
Chocolate Extravaganza (also known as the Sweet Fair), a Polo Invitational
Match sponsored by the Springfield Polo Club, a "Festival of Flowers" plant
sale, a "Doors of Springfield" poster sale, and an extensive Salute Benefit
Auction held each March.
In recent years, several fundraising events have
been added to Summer Arts Festival weekends, including a Parrothead Party in
the Park (Jimmy Buffett style), A Rhythm and Ribs Fest, and the Sip of Summer
Wine and Beer Tasting.
The Springfield Arts Council is active within the Springfield/Clark County
community by involvement with the Sister City Program – Wittenberg, Germany,
and coordinates entertainment services for the annual Culture Fest and
Holiday in the City.
In 1999, the Summer Arts Festival was honored by the Library of Congress to
participate in the Local Legacy Program. The 1999 Summer Arts Festival was documented by photos, news articles, recordings, etc. and become part of
the Library of Congress.
In 2004, the first phase of the Veteran’s Park Renovation Project was
completed with the addition of an east comfort station to house concessions,
public restrooms and a hospitality terrace. In 2005, the second phase of the
project was completed which included a new stage and lighting canopy,
orchestra and reserved seating pad, a new building for production control
with a Sponsor Deck, and asphalt paths and handicapped seating pads
throughout the Grand Lawn area. The final phase of the project, including concessions, public restrooms,
a hospitality terrace, and a Festival office on the west side of the
amphitheater, was completed in 2010.
The Springfield Arts Council currently employs:
Director - David A. White, III
• Marketing and Communications Director - Tim Rowe
• Managing Director - Sarah V. Michelson
• Education and Special Services Coordinator - Sonya Ryhal
• Special Projects Director - Kyrsten M. Walton
• Office Administrator - Julie A. Zerkle
• Director Emeritus - J. Chris Moore
Click here for
staff email addresses
Arts Council’s office is located at 117 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield, OH,
and is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Revised January 2013)
return to homepage