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Honoring Barbara Robinson 

A smiling person of light skin tone with short reddish hair.
Photo Credit: Cleveland Museum of Art
Barbara Robinson smiles in an undated picture.

A true champion of the arts, Barbara Robinson left an indelible mark on Arts Midwest and the cultural landscape of the Midwest.

Arts Midwest was saddened by the passing of Barbara Robinson on March 22, 2023. Barbara served on Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors from the organization’s founding in 1985 to 2009, including 13 years as Board Chair, from 1996 to 2009. During her time on the Board, Barbara helped steward Arts Midwest from a new organization to a nationally-recognized leader in the arts.  

Barbara was a passionate supporter and champion of the arts both in her home state of Ohio as well as nationally. In addition to her tenure at Arts Midwest, Barbara served on the Boards of Americans for the Arts, Arts Cleveland, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Society for Contemporary Art, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and the Ohio Arts Council, among many other local, regional, and national organizations. She was a founder of the Cleveland Ballet, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, and Arts Cleveland.  

During Barbara’s time as Board Chair, she helped spearhead several initiatives involving the visual arts. In 2000, she worked with Arts Midwest, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Columbus Museum of Art on the exhibition “Illusions of Eden: Visions of the American Heartland,” which placed contemporary installations alongside art from the 1920s through 1940s to showcase the rich cultural history and offerings of the Midwest region.

In 2006, she supported another collaboration between the Columbus Museum of Art, Arts Midwest, and the Ohio Arts Council, which resulted in the exhibition “Symphonic Poem,” which presented the artwork of Columbus, Ohio-based mixed media artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Throughout all these projects, she remained a champion for the arts in Ohio and across the Midwest region. 

“Barbara Robinson, our chair emeritus, provided unparalleled leadership and generosity to the arts at the local, state, regional, national, and international levels,” said Donna Collins, executive director of the Ohio Arts Council. “Her lifetime of service has had a positive and immense impact on the successes of the Ohio Arts Council and the arts across our state. At a personal level, it has been an honor to have Barbara in my life as a mentor and friend.” 

Barbara’s dedication to the arts was apparent in all she did. Arts Midwest is so grateful to Barbara for her support of our organization and Midwestern creativity throughout her life.