ArtsOhio Blog

The ArtsOhio Blog is the Ohio Arts Council's way to share stories that highlight the arts in Ohio, feedback from the field, interviews with artists and staff, and more. Sign up for the ArtsOhio newsletter to receive a curated selection of posts each month.

OAPN Executive Director Jessica Rosenblatt. Photo by Every Angle Photography

Get to Know Jessica Rosenblatt, OAPN’s New Executive Director

Jessica Rosenblatt is passionate about independent music in Ohio. From Cleveland to Cincinnati, Canton to Columbus, she has seemingly endless examples of artists and bands who are doing big things in all corners of the state and beyond. So, how does one stay in the know when it comes to all things Ohio music? Rosenblatt said she has had a good guide.

“I got into the arts world when I met my wife, Diana Chittester, in 2008. I was a small business management and marketing college grad, and when I met Diana, who is a musician, she introduced me to this world of independent music,” Rosenblatt said. “I watched her onstage as she connected with the audience through the stories that she shared and through her very intimate and personal songwriting.
I’ve been addicted to the arts ever since. That’s kind of what kicked it all off.”

As a booking agent for Fighting Chance Records, the independent record label she and Chittester started in 2011, Rosenblatt said she
learned how to manage a label, publish songs, book tours, and grow social media, skills that complemented her communications-savvy role as PR/marketing coordinator for Cleveland’s Cain Park. Now as executive director of the Ohio Arts Professionals Network (OAPN), a statewide arts service organization for artists, presenters, and management agencies, Rosenblatt is eager to share her love of the arts with others throughout Ohio. She sat down to talk about what’s in store for OAPN’s future and why having a well-connected network is a necessity.


You were recently appointed as OAPN’s new executive director. What led you to this position?

I first joined OAPN as a member and attended a conference as an agent for Fighting Chance Records in 2015. The following year, I was asked to become a board member, and then more recently, I became the secretary of the executive board. So, when the executive director opportunity came up, I felt like I had the passion to take the board to the
next level.


I have loved being a part of OAPN. I am so grateful for learning about the network because I’ve seen first-hand how the connections through the network can really change the artistic trajectory for both artists and presenting organizations.


The OAPN’s biennial conference is the organization’s signature event where a lot of these in-person connections are formed. What makes the conference special?

It’s more intimate than some of the other conferences I’ve gone to. You can look forward to reconnecting with some of the same people, but there are always new folks to meet.

The biggest part of OAPN is the fact that it gives you a group of people to network and connect with. Conference attendees are connecting with artists, agents, and the top presenters in the state. I think once you get into that realm, you start meeting the people who are putting on these really great events throughout the state of Ohio.

OAPN’s membership is a diverse group of arts presenters, agencies, individual artists, and service organizations all working to make communities stronger and more connected through the arts. Why is it so important to support artistic and creative endeavors in one’s community, and how can OAPN help with that?

I think the communities that have strong arts scenes thrive culturally and economically. Using the idea of “think globally, act locally,” these cities that build strong creative
identities get the attention of the nation.


But when it comes to people trying to figure out how to do that in their town, I think the only way you can start is to get to know people who are already doing it. Many of the people at OAPN are not from big cities. We have folks in smaller towns who are utilizing their own local resources and connections to build performing arts centers or start festivals to celebrate the arts.


I want OAPN to be known as the place where people can go to grow these ideas in their own communities. Obviously, you have your big cities—New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Austin—what people always think of as the “music towns.” We look at some of these cities, and we’re like, “Gosh, how did all of this happen?” It feels like it was overnight that they became the place to go. But we know that these things take a while, they take work, and they take communities working together.

In what ways do you hope OAPN grows in the coming years? Are there any specific goals you have planned?

Step one is just to grow our social media channels so that we can continue to connect with artists, presenters, and agents. We are building out our board, and we will bring on some new board members in early October.

For the conference, I want to continue to attract high-quality artists for our showcasing. I think we’ve done an amazing job bringing in the top talent, and these acts are getting booked throughout the state of Ohio. And I want to continue to bring in a diverse group of presenters. These conferences only work when there’s enough presenters to book the artists and enough talented artists that the presenters can book. So, it’s constantly all about finding that blend. I really want to keep it intimate and approachable without being too small. I don’t want to lose what OAPN is. I think people really do like going to OAPN because it’s a reunion with friends and it’s not overwhelming.

Another way you are making OAPN more approachable is through your “Meet Your New Executive Director” events. What do you want people to take away from these events?
I am really working hard to get out there to meet people. This is a way to connect with Ohio artists, agents, venues, owners, talent buyers, photographers and videographers—really anyone working in the arts world—in their home communities.

These events are an opportunity to create connections between OAPN, artists, and organizations, but we also want to encourage the attendees to network amongst themselves. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about myself or the organization, but I want to get it out there who OAPN is and how it can benefit the people in the room.

We want people to know that we’re here to help. We want people to grow. And we don’t have all the answers, by any means, but because we’ve been going for so long, we have a reputation and we have great people in our network who are ready to help push ideas forward.


Want to schedule a “Meet Your New Executive Director” event in your community? Send an email to
info@oapn.org!
 
 
Why is it important to have a statewide arts service organization dedicated specifically to the performing arts in Ohio?
A statewide arts organization like OAPN benefits the presenters and the artists because it connects them. Once you can get people into the same room and get them talking, I think good things start to happen. Once the artists start making connections with the presenters, then the presenters start to spread the word to other presenters throughout Ohio and beyond.

When it comes to showcasing, we have incredible acts that come from not only Ohio, but also Canada, Michigan, and Boston, just to name a few. We do get talent coming from outside the state, but we try to really focus on the acts from within Ohio. We can do so much by having these Ohio organizations serve as the starting place for these Ohio acts.

What do the arts mean to you?
I think arts are the thing that push our culture forward. I think art brings people together—even people with differing views can go see a show and connect in that space.

We all have memories associated with a certain song or lyric. We can all be moved by a dance production. We can all go to the theatre to feel. And I just think that the arts and artists can change minds. The arts can remind us of our past and can teach us how to move forward.

 

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on 
Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

###


Interview by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Featured photo by Every Angle Photography



Comments are closed.

Instagram

Sign Up for the Monthly Newsletter

From deadline reminders to artist interviews--sign up to receive the monthly ArtsOhio newsletter directly to your inbox.

* indicates required
Which audience do you identify with the most?

View previous campaigns.