At the intersection of Arts + Neighborhoods

How can art change your neighborhood for the better?  In January, ArtsWave asked this question of community development organizations for the five neighborhoods in LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s Place Matters program. Their answers led to a new ArtsWave strategic initiative that helps leverage the power of the arts to create community.

Each Place Matters neighborhood has established its own goals for community development.  Goals range from bringing diverse residents together in Price Hill, to connecting youth to cultural heritage in Avondale.  When presented with the opportunity to use the arts to help achieve these goals, community organizers saw great potential.

“We typically think of the arts in terms of enrichment and self-expression, but they are also a great tool for building community,” says Pamela Taylor, Community Outreach Coordinator, Price Hill Will.  “We’re so excited to have this opportunity to bring together diverse populations in East, West and Lower Price Hill, building cohesion through the shared experience of watching and participating in live performances.”

In May, ArtsWave awarded $45,000 in grants to LISC’s designated community revitalization organizations in Avondale, Covington, Madisonville, Price Hill, and Walnut Hills.  Each Place Matters neighborhood will use the funds to contract with arts organizations supported by ArtsWave or to support activities that include community-building arts programs. Grant projects also involve local community partners such as United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Urban League of Cincinnati, schools, and business associations.  

Several groups used funds this summer to create fun events that helped to build neighborhood identity.  Price Hill Will presented Shakespeare in the Park in three local parks.  The “We Are Walnut Hills” festival brought residents of all ages together for dancing, face-painting and community conversation.  More activities are scheduled through 2015 including Cincinnati Opera performances in a historic Covington cemetery, the continuing transformation of an alley into a community gathering space in Walnut Hills, and classes in African cooking and culture in Avondale

Want to see this ArtsWave strategy in action? The Cincinnati Jazz and BBQ Festival was on Saturday, October 4 from 3 to 8 p.m. in the heart of the Madisonville business district at Madison and Whetsel. This new festival launched by the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation is supported in part by the ArtsWave and LISC partnership.