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Artists are the heart and soul of a vibrant and thriving community. Their creativity, passion, and unique perspectives enrich the cultural fabric and contribute to the overall well-being of society.


Artists play a pivotal role in enriching the cultural landscape of communities, infusing depth and diversity into their fabric. Through a myriad of mediums including exhibitions, performances, workshops, and interactive installations, artists actively engage community members, fostering meaningful dialogue, connection, and collaboration.

Artists serve as catalysts for cultural enrichment, celebrating the richness of equality and diversity within communities. By showcasing diverse perspectives and narratives, artists contribute to a collective understanding and appreciation of varied cultures, traditions, and experiences. Through their work, artists promote inclusivity and equality, nurturing a sense of belonging and shared identity among residents fostering a strong sense of community cohesion and solidarity.



Essential Artists Dayton was co-created in April 2020 by Dave Best of Code for Dayton and Peter Benkendorf of The Collaboratory in response to COVID. The name was drawn from the “Essential Workers” moniker, because we know that artists are essential for a community to have creative energy and to truly thrive.

Recognizing that the galleries, coffee shops and restaurants where art work is shown and sold were closed, eliminating all income opportunities, the two built Essential Artists Dayton as a FREE (no sign-up fee and no commission) online gallery so there was a hub for local artists and buyers to connect. There was a no-contact pick-up point at The Collaboratory to safely facilitate drop-off and pick-up. In the first nine months of Essential Artists, over $9000 of work was sold, and all-told, close to $15,000 in sales have come through the site.


Motivated by two recent occurrences, the transformation of the member-based Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) to a world-class art gallery The Contemporary, and  the incredible example set by Five Rivers Health Center in purchasing over $50,000 in local art for the new facility on Miami-Chapel, it was clear to us that there was an opportunity for Essential Artists Dayton to do so much more. Moving forward, we are committed to 1) fully supporting the marketing needs of local visual artists, 2) helping facilitate local art buyers, individual and institutional, find the art they are looking for and 3) advocate for the importance of investing in local art.


Essential Artists Dayton supports the rich and diverse community of visual artists who call the Miami Valley home through a range of marketing support, community engagement, business development and advocacy activities:

  • Connecting Artists and Buyers through our online Artist Gallery Portal

  • Connecting Artists, Buyers and Art Appreciators through our monthly calendar of visual art happenings in the Miami Valley

  • Connecting Artists and Corporate/Institutional/Government Buyers through our “Buy Local Art” Curating Service

  • Connecting Artists and Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Retailer, Public Venues etc. through our “Show Local Art” Curating Service

    • Connecting Galleries and other venues looking to exhibit work with local artists through a Call for Proposals

  • Working with the local library systems to establish and support a “Borrow Local Art” program.

  • Leading local Advocacy and Marketing efforts to increase awareness, expand investment and grow sales for local visual artists

  • Providing visual artists a space for community-building, sharing best-practices and exploring collaboration


If you are an artist, gallery, buyer or appreciator, Essential Artists Dayton is the place to get connected.

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