Every so often someone shakes their head at me and says, “You know, ArtsWave is operating on an old model.” Like we were a car that had outlived its usefulness and needs to be replaced by something shinier and speedier and slicker.

I find this kind of funny – because as far as models go, the way the public supports Cincinnati’s arts community is still the envy of other regions. We heard this on the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce’s exchange trip to Atlanta last fall. For all that Atlanta has going for it, city officials envy two things: our support of the arts, and our river. 

I was also reminded of this last month, visiting Detroit with national colleagues as part of Americans for the Arts’ Private Sector Network. While every city has its own idiosyncratic approach to supporting its cultural assets, in some communities arts organizations operate in relative isolation from each other. Maybe it’s not intentional, but these models don’t result in regular interaction or coordinated action.

By contrast, Cincinnati’s arts community embraces collaboration as a core value.  Working together is our superpower, epitomized by the ArtsWave annual community campaign, dating back to 1949. Just think: once a year, for twelve weeks, arts organizations jointly promote fundraising by ArtsWave for the sake of generating tens of thousands of contributions for the entire arts ecosystem. 

Three-hundred-plus companies come together too, to ask their employees to support the ArtsWave campaign. They are encouraged and cheered on by dozens of executive-level volunteers, who provide leadership for literally hundreds of volunteers throughout all levels of business. This is collaboration at its finest because everyone benefits. Our arts community is sustained for ever-greater innovation, and our workforce is further rooted in the region and proud to call Greater Cincinnati home.

New collaborators this year are our ArtsWave Ambassadors – friends we are recruiting who agree to to raise dollars from their peer and social networks. Their individual fundraising goals – of any size -- contribute to the larger community campaign goal. They become part of the success story, part of the momentum that carries us forward. Anyone can be an Ambassador and all gifts add up to amazing results.

And just what is that result? Each year, thanks to this coordinated community campaign, ArtsWave is able to invest more than $10 million in Greater Cincinnati through the arts. Imagine, a $10 million infusion into arts and cultural activities that accrue benefits back to individuals: more vibrant neighborhoods, more social connections, more appreciation of diversity, more arts education for kids, and an environment that is conducive to attracting the best and the brightest.

Do we need to keep evolving our model? Absolutely. Is it obsolete? Hardly. We’re just getting going.

ArtsWave’s $12.2 million community campaign runs through April 30. Find out how you can be involved on our ArtsWave Ambassadors page.

Click here for the list of organizations receiving support from the ArtsWave Community Campaign.

MYCincinnati and CCO

MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra with instructors from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.