At ArtsWave, we hear many stories from our arts partners about the impact they are having on the community. Here are five small stories that had a big impression on different members of our staff this year.
For ArtsWave Presents at CVG Airport in March, the young singers from Northern Kentucky University’s prep department created a special moment for visitors. An Iranian woman and her grandson were in the terminal waiting for her sister, whom she hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. She enjoyed the music, especially a Russian folk song that was familiar to her. When the woman arrived, the NKU Prep kids performed the song again especially for them. The women hugged each other and stood next to the students the entire song. The woman visiting from Iran said it was the most incredible welcome she’d ever received. They were both in tears.
– Alecia Kintner
Ellen Muse Lindeman shared the amazing story below on the campaign trail about the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and it has stuck with me.
– Jodi Perry
“Last summer, when their neighborhood was reeling from two shooting deaths in Kennedy Park, the arts helped bring the community together. Even before the homicides, the park had become a haven for people shooting dice and making drug deals, and as you can imagine, residents were upset and scared. Instead of staying away, neighbors worked together to take back the park and restore the community’s sense of safety. Working with the police department, a group of local residents and the Kennedy Heights Arts Center organized weekly Play in the Park events.
On one of the first nights, many residents, young and old, gathered in a circle each with a small frame drum. Master percussionist Baba Charles Miller led the group in playing and singing a traditional African song. He wove information about the cultural history of the instruments and the music into expert quick group lessons that had us all playing together in no time. It was a deeply moving experience for the diverse residents as our music came forth on a beautiful summer evening. Hundreds of residents came together in the park weekly all summer long and there have been no other incidents of violence.”
I attended a screening of a short film during Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Project 38 festival last week. The festival involved more than 1,100 kids from 38 schools, all creating their own works of theater and art in response to one of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. The short film documented a work created by young men in the Campbell County Regional Juvenile Detention Center. After studying King Lear, they had decided to create a version of the storm scene, using their hands and feet to create the sound of the rain, and speaking lines of the text that held meaning for them. It is a simple, but poignant piece. The two teaching artists from Cincinnati Shakespeare talked afterwards about the challenges of creating art in this environment, and how the conversations that they had with the young men inspired self-reflection in both the students and themselves. The Center has already asked Cincinnati Shakespeare to bring Project 38 back next year.
– Rebecca Bromels
“One of the best parts of my job as Manager of Digital Communications at ArtsWave is that I get to hear directly from our followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about how the arts moved them. During Macy’s Arts Sampler, I absolutely loved watching families smiling together, kids proudly parading around in their fairytale character costumes, and couples excitedly chatting as they exited the doors after the performance. However, some of the most touching moments for me came in quotes that popped up on ArtsWave’s news feed the next day:
- My six year-old budding artist was super excited. She said "all that in one day?”
- Thank you for providing this opportunity for everyone to enjoy the arts! My son has autism & this event was perfect for him. He loved the music played by MY Cincinnati!
- I have never seen my 2 kids so attentive. They sat, quietly fascinated, during the entire Fairytale Favorites concert in Music Hall, with smiles beaming.”
- Rebecca Calkin
Julie Sunderland’s story about the Cincinnati Ballet’s education program gets me every time. Cincinnati Ballet reaches thousands of third graders in numerous schools across our region. One of those schools is CPS’s Academy of World Languages. Julie was presenting a lesson a few years back where she challenges the “athletic kids” to do a 360-spin in the air. Of course, many of the boys, who thought themselves prime basketball players, took her up on her challenge, with most failing at their first attempt. After the session ended, the school nurse, who was a friend of Julie’s, was crying. When Julie asked why, the nurse shared the story that one of the boys, a former child soldier from an African country in turmoil, had never participated in anything before with his classmates. He was always quiet and kept to himself, but he used this opportunity to try and shine. He had finally started to emerge from his “cocoon of safety” through dance.
– Mike Boberg