VOICES: For NATO Parliament, can Dayton become a ‘global city’ through the arts?

Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly series from Rodney Veal that shares insights and stories from artists and creatives from all corners of our community. As the host of ThinkTV/CET Connect for nine years and a lifelong artist in his own right, Veal has a front-row seat to the impact our arts community has on the wellbeing of our region. With this series, Ideas & Voices hopes to inspire readers to pursue their own creative endeavors and to support those who make our community better through their artistic contributions.

On June 3, a press conference was held to announce that Dayton would be the site of the NATO Parliament Assembly next spring. The room was filled with leaders representing local, regional, and national governments as well as various arts and cultural amentities from the Dayton region. Governor Mike DeWine and Congressman Mike Turner spoke about how all eyes will be on Dayton, Ohio. And from these speeches in front of a bank of video cameras and journalists, a phrase stuck out to me: Dayton has the opportunity of being considered a global city. As I walked away from the press conference, I was left with this question: can Dayton become a global city? And what role can our arts and culture serve as a catalyst for it happening?

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

As I sat inside Gather by Ghostlight Coffeehouse and the Dana L. Wiley Gallery in the recently renovated Arcade, I couldn’t help but see the potential. This perfect symbiosis of art, food, and drink destinations is symbolic of what the transformation of the urban center can produce. It sparked a thought: could our nightlife and culinary spots stay open just a little bit longer, like in major European cities? Could our empty storefronts be filled with art and cultural installations? Can we have art experiences on every corner, like Paris? While the redevelopment of Dayton may not always seem to be moving at a progressive pace, we are better positioned than ever to take advantage of this unique opportunity. A door is opening for us to embrace the hard work of many visionaries who continue to bet on Dayton’s promising future. Our new visitors don’t need a eulogy of our past historic accomplishments — they need to see the promise of the most innovative and inventive city in the country.

The artists have an opportunity to help provide that polish and shine to make us a global city of cultural note and build upon our legacy of the Dayton Peace Accords, a place of unity and hope. It is now time for artists with their talents and skills to produce and conceive the extraordinary and amazing to help the city get a creative makeover as only artists and creatives can.

We need the boldest and most colorful creatives at the table to help shape and mold this potentially transformative event. There are fresh, new, and diverse voices ready to dazzle and astonish us if given the chance. Becoming a global city is more than a mere aspiration; it is a strategic imperative for a region aiming to thrive in an interconnected world. By positioning ourselves as a global city, Dayton can catalyze growth, attract top talent, and foster a prosperous community for generations to come. Now is the time for the next generation of artists and creatives — for you — to help take Dayton to the next level. The world will be watching.

Rodney Veal is the host of thinkTV/CET Connect and President of the board of OhioDance.

About the Author