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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.​



The Essential Artists brand has expanded into The Essential Arts Dayton initiative. The expanded initiative has two primary purposes:

  1. Customer-facing website that serves as an aggregator, calendar, portal/pointer and information resource about the artists and arts organizations in the Dayton region.

    • Calendar (singular and searchable)

    • Directory or Artists and Organizations (by sub-domain)

    • In the News (future)

    • Podcast (future)

  2. Through its four sub-brands, provide vehicles for participants and supporters of the particular discipline to organize to enhance marketing support, community engagement, business development, funding and advocacy.

    • Essential (Visual) Artists Dayton

    • Essential Theater Dayton

    • Essential Dance Dayton

    • Essential (Classical and Choral) Music Dayton

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