The Arts Commission's Merit Award program recognizes outstanding local literary, performing and visual artists, rewarding the many hours and personal resources each artist dedicates to their artform. Four awards are given: one $2500 award, two $1000 awards, and one $500 award. Recipients are selected by a panel of renowned artists and cultural leaders from around the Midwest, with a range or expertise across artistic disciplines.
The 2020 review panel included Aaron Dworkin, a social entrepreneur, performing artist, philanthropist, and University of Michigan faculty member, Michelle Herman, a novelist, essayist, and Ohio State University faculty member, and Nadiah Rivera Fellah, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The Merit Award program is generously supported by ProMedica, the Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.