PIQUA — Piqua Arts Council is one of the best-kept secrets in Piqua. It was begun during the fall of 1990 when a group of Piqua citizens began discussing the need for an organization to sponsor and promote the arts in the community. The result of those conversations was the formation of a new committee of the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce, the Piqua Arts and Humanities Council. The council’s membership represented a wide variety of musical, fine art, theatre, historical and educational groups.
Its three-fold mission, which began in the spring of 1991, was to make the arts accessible to the community through presentation of a variety of art forms, education in those art forms and support for other community organizations. In 1993, the name of the Piqua Arts and Humanities Council was simplified to Piqua Arts Council (PAC), and in 1997 it moved out from under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce to become a full-fledged, independent arts organization.
During its first few years, PAC focused on three major activities: providing theatre training for junior high students; organizing Music in the Park concerts that were targeted to a more mature audience; and offering an annual Art Exhibit which served all age levels. Throughout the years, additional programming was added. Some of those programs lasted only a few years. Some will remember “Chalk the Walk,” a program in which businesses purchased sidewalk squares in the downtown area and asked artists to create chalk drawings in those squares. “Buckeye Blast” kicked off the Ohio State football season for several years with a tailgate party, complete with a big screen TV viewing of the Buckeye’s season opener. For a short time, community children were invited to paint doors in the “Market Murals” program, which took place during the summer Farmer’s Markets that were then held in Canal Place. Other programs, though, have endured for many years. The annual Art Exhibition held in the Apple Tree Gallery each September has been held since PAC began. Having been held for 31 years, it is the oldest and largest non-juried art exhibition in the area. In-school poetry reading and bussing fourth grade students to the Dayton Symphony, both programs of the past, have been combined into Creative Classrooms, offering students in Kindergarten through fifth grade in both the public and Piqua Catholic school systems exposure to the arts through field trips and in-school performances. A program originally sponsoring workshops by local Piqua artists has expanded into a continuing series of workshops by internationally-awarded artists. This year, three artists will each offer four-day workshops in their specialty. In May, Tim Saternow will instruct in watercolors; Jill Wagner will introduce pastels in July; and oils will be represented by Ken Yarus in September.
Since its beginning, PAC has continued the tradition of Piqua arts organizations. Two significant features, however, separate it from all the others. The first is its longevity. The average length of time for any post-World War II arts group in Piqua has been roughly three years. PAC has existed for 31 years, exceeding the average many times over as an active and vibrant organization. The second notable feature of PAC is its diversity. Previous organizations concentrated on a single type of programming such as musical events or art shows, and the boards of these earlier groups were often fairly select groups. PAC now offers a wide variety of programming overseen by a diverse board that represents a cross-section of the community.
Although the leadership and programming of Piqua Arts Council has changed over the years, its mission remains the same: to make the arts in all forms – visual, performance, culinary and literary — accessible in our community through education, support and presentation. They continue to work hard to do just that.