Last week I hosted 16 representatives from the Town and Chamber of Commerce of Opelika, Alabama. These distant neighbors had come to Cincinnati to learn more about how our city works, including how we support and involve the arts in civic life. I invited four arts colleagues to come help me tell our story and, as always when I listen to what our arts organizations are doing, I found myself inspired. It’s as if they are intentionally doubling their impact through amazing arts with impact on the community. Keep reading to find out how you can double your impact, too.

BICOpeningNightVan Ackerman of the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) described how the two facilities under its management, Music Hall and the Aronoff Center, are the site of more than 880 performances each year.  That represents tens of thousands of opportunities for Cincinnati audiences to experience a huge array of artists! But, that’s just the part of CAA that’s visible to the general public. Their other activities include active arts education programs for kids and a new Arts and Healing program, made possible by ArtsWave, that is especially focused on the elderly and military veterans. Check out the article in this newsletter about our recent investments in Arts for Health programs.

As one of Music Hall’s primary residents, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is responsible for more than 80 annual performances. Off the stage, however, the CSO is working in unexpected ways in the community as well. Sherri Prentiss described the orchestra’s partnership with the Freestore Foodbank, in which musicians serve up “music for the soul” during the Freestore Foodbank’s Kids Café, to compliment the meals and mentoring that are being provided to neighbors in need. It’s part of how the CSO fulfills its mission to “seek and provide inspiration.”

Kemper Florin, director of Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Outbound education program, described how taking opera out into parks, churches, senior centers and schools is how they bring the wonder of live opera into the backyards of many of our region’s residents. With 95 years of history, they are keeping opera fresh by showing how opera is for everyone.

ArtWorks Mural TourFinally, Teresa Hoelle described the summer youth employment program which creates the large-scale murals for which ArtWorks is well known. But she also described one of ArtWorks’ other hallmark programs, Creative Enterprise, which provides entrepreneurs with training, education, and a “big pitch” financing competition. Over the last few years, this program has launched 40 businesses, including many at street level, and graduated 240 enterprising individuals who will continue to impact our community in their own creative ways.

With just three days left in this year’s ArtsWave Community Campaign, I’m reminded by my colleagues just why it’s so critical to get to our fundraising goal each year. The Cincinnati region’s arts organizations are doing more than “nice” things in our community – they are doing “necessary” things to improve the quality of life for all of us. It’s a doubly important role they play – and that’s why I’m making another “finish line” contribution of my own at our Campaign Countdown website
.  My gift, and yours if you’ll join me, will be doubled through a Matching Gift challenge secured by Campaign Chair Tom Williams. It’s a commitment for twice the impact, just like our arts organizations make every day.

Today I go to Louisville, Kentucky, to share the story of ArtsWave’s transformation over the last five years with our counterpart organization, the Fund for the Arts.  It’s a story that keeps unfolding in exciting new chapters every day and that resonates with community leaders from Louisville to Opelika and beyond.

Have a story about the arts that’s stuck with you?  Share it with us on Twitter with #ArtsRipple.

 Cincinnati Mens Chorus