In the blissful stretch of sunlight that graced us this past weekend, I hush-hushed my kids as we bent over a plot of dirt next to the driveway. It was dangerously close to the make-shift soccer field and the pogo-stick practice ground. “This is sacred space,” I told Delaney and Hayden. “This is where the peonies will come.” And sure enough, poking through the ground are the first signs of my favorite spring perennials: gloriously abundant, proud, exuberantly colored peonies.

Anticipating the first flowers of the growing season is a ritual that many of us share. 

Pones Inc with kidsFor many of us, as well, there is the ritual of anticipating the coming season of arts events, announced by each organization with a mix of glorious abundance, pride and colorful exuberance. You can read about a few of them Here, Here, and Here. For ArtsWave, Spring means an intensive period of reviewing grant applications and reports of impact. There are data points and dreams, all condensed into a set number of pages and one-inch margins.

We’re trying something new this year, a series of video applications, for special project grants tied to innovative ways of engaging audiences.  At the same time we are daring to raise $12.2 million in new and renewed gifts for the 2015 community campaign, we are looking at a small pool of R&D funds called ArtsWave Innovation Grants, contributed in honor of our recently retired CEO Mary McCullough-Hudson. These are designed to signal “business UNnusual”, a garden of surprises.

And they are – gloriously abundant, proud, and exuberant ideas from 21 regional arts organizations, some large and some small. They range from the practical – speeding up Will Call lines; to the sublime – vehicles that transport dance, opera, crafts from outside performance halls and museums and into neighborhood after neighborhood. They imagine community togetherness around Hip Hop, Drawing, and Shakespeare.  They suggest fresh approaches and, on a chilly evening, they exude warmth.

Innovation Grants are just one way that ArtsWave will enrich the landscape of the Cincinnati region this year.  The 2015 ArtsWave Campaign will enable us to invest millions of dollars in organizations that are having big impact on our community through the arts.

If you haven’t made your gift, there’s still time – and it will make a big difference. With five weeks remaining, we are $5 million away from the goal. Every contribution adds to the impact, just like every emerging flower makes the garden more satisfying and more complete.  We’re shooting for abundance and exuberance through the arts – our community deserves nothing less than this.

Tell us how you are marking signs of spring with the arts using the hashtag #CincySpringArts.