The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. It supports creative expression for artists, organizations, students, educators, and for the public across its cities and towns. The Council ensures that the arts enhance quality of life, enrich education, build Ohio’s economy, and tell stories of communities.
As a medium-sized arts granting organization, the Ohio Arts Council manages 1,000 to 1,200 grant awards at any given time, while reviewing an additional 1,000 new applications each year.
The Council’s first system was a custom one. They relied on an outside programmer to keep it working, as they had no way to make any changes themselves. But after 10 years they found that their system wasn’t keeping up with the times or growing with the organization. “Since the system had been custom-built, it was going to take a significant amount of money to update. So much had changed in both the arts and technology landscapes, and what we had just wasn’t meeting our needs anymore.”
It had been a long time since they’d really analyzed their granting process, so the team took their time reorganizing how they managed and administered their procedures. “It was great working with the SmartSimple team during this time. They really helped us review and revise how we did things, giving us some very intelligent changes and fixes. We discovered things along the way we’d never thought of, and were so glad to have the level of support we did.”
In particular, the Council enjoyed working with SmartSimple's President, Cameron McLean, and Systems Solutions Architect, Bob Longworth. “Cameron and Bob were great to work with,” adds Dan. “They never told us they couldn’t do what we asked for, and they never made change requests seem like they were unreasonable. Even when we transitioned [from Implementation to Support], we were never made to feel like our questions were too trivial, or that we were asking too much.”
Feedback from all the Council’s users has also been overwhelmingly positive. “Applicants and grantees are reporting the system is really easy to use and functions smoothly. We’ve also been impressed with the security of SmartSimple’s system. A big concern for artists is intellectual property; knowing their work is protected and their identities are safe, so a robust and secure site is a big deal for us.
“As a steward of public dollars, we need to be aware and accountable for how and where we spend our money. SmartSimple is very reasonably priced since we only pay for what we use. We are glad to be able to share that we are being responsible with taxpayer funds.”