I often get asked why my husband and I would leave our life on a Caribbean island behind to move back to the United States.
The short answer to this question is similar to the reason why you would choose to stay in a place like Cincinnati: you miss things like concerts, museums, theaters and libraries if they aren’t readily available. After a while even staring at the waves doesn’t compare to the energy that comes from living in the Greater Cincinnati region where there are more festivals, performances, concerts and exhibitions than there are days of the week.
I’m not alone in thinking that access to the arts improves the quality of life in a place. In fact, recent research done for ArtsWave in partnership with Agenda 360, revealed a correlation between those Greater Cincinnati residents who take part in the arts and those who express a positive view of Cincinnati. People who expressed satisfaction in this community and who saw opportunity here were 30% more active in the arts than those who did not feel satisfied or see opportunity.
This past week, as part of the Leadership Exchange trip to Atlanta organized by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, I was struck again by how integral the arts are to places that are growing and thriving. “The arts feed the ecosystem” of a region, said Dr. James Wagner, president of Emory University, as he reflected on building an innovation pipeline.
Sure, it’s true that in this day and age we can access a huge variety of entertainment options wherever we have an internet connection. But that doesn’t substitute for being able to experience a live music event in a historic concert hall with 3,000 other inspired neighbors, or discuss a provocative play with friends after a performance, or see how the choices of curators challenge our assumptions about the world through works of visual art. All of these experiences can only happen in a place that supports a wide variety of arts organizations.
Living with this abundance can make us take our arts scene for granted. But outsiders see the advantage clearly – Doug Hooker, head of the Atlanta Regional Commission, remarked that Cincy’s support of the arts is instructive for their city. The fact that Greater Cincinnati is home to so many world-class arts institutions and cutting-edge cultural experiences is one that could and should be exploited still more by site selectors, HR recruiters, college admission offices, and tourism agencies.
The arts in Cincinnati are a differentiator for those making location decisions, and they are can be a great reason to put down roots. The arts help make Cincinnati “sticky” – a place that talented people don’t want to leave.
What role do Cincinnati’s arts activities play in your decision to be here and stay here? Tell us at on Twitter or Facebook using #ArtsRipple.