For many publicly funded entities in Ohio, the $55.5 billion biennial budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 heralded a new austerity as Gov. John Kasich took out the hatchet to cut billions in spending.

Execs at the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), created in 1965 by Gov. Jim Rhodes to foster the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage, braced for the worst. The OAC's 2008-09 funding of $25 million had been slashed by 47 percent in the 2010-11 budget, to $13.2 million. (OAC funding peaked at $32 million in the 2000-01 biennium, says Executive Director Julie Henahan.)

Kasich's executive budget called for another 19.5 percent cut. But the state legislature reversed the tide, awarding the OAC $17.2 million for 2012-13-up 30.5 percent over the previous biennial appropriation.

Although the OAC represents less than one-thirty-second of 1 percent of the total state budget, "in this economic environment, this is outstanding," Henahan says. "We're very appreciative to the legislature for seeing the important role the arts play in Ohio's economic recovery and in continuing to help provide well-rounded education for kids in our schools."

The OAC distributes state and National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) funding to artists, arts organizations, schools and other entities. In fiscal 2011, Ohio was the NEA's second-largest grantee, receiving slightly more than $1 million; the OAC awarded a total of $4.5 million in grants-most on a one-to-one matching basis.

Henahan says the funding boost will enable "awards of more consequence than we've been able to do for some time. There's a restoration aspect to some of this." The OAC plans to award $5.9 million for fiscal 2012.

Reprinted from the September 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.