Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America and a popular TEDtalk presenter, offered inspiring words about how the arts can enliven neighborhoods and deepen roots in a community at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon presented Nov. 12 by the Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals.

Although the lunch and accompanying awards ceremony honored all philanthropy, the event – the largest ever for the chapter – paid particular attention to arts philanthropy and role of arts in community building. Bennett’s organization, ArtPlace America, is a 10-year collaboration of foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development.

 “Artists are the one asset that exists in every community,” Bennett said. “The asset is there and waiting to be activated.” 

 Arts and culture represent a key part of community planning, Bennett said, on par with housing, transportation and economic considerations. Like those more traditional planning pieces, arts represent part of a healthy, thriving community; require planning to be successful; and is a sector with responsibilities to the well-being of the community.

 When artists and community developers work together, Bennett said, they can create spaces that people want to be in – that generate foot traffic and money in a neighborhood. 

Bennett was invited to speak by ArtsWave President and CEO Alecia Kintner, who also was honorary chairwoman of the National Philanthropy Day event.

ArtPlace America has awarded creative placemaking grants all over the country, supporting projects that bring art into community planning projects. In Greater Cincinnati, Bennett’s organization is supporting work being done by the American Sign Museum in Covington as well as ArtWorks efforts to build artists’ business skills. 
Projects like these create a ripple effect of benefits through a community, Bennett said, lauding ArtsWave for cultivating the ripple effect in Greater Cincinnati.

ArtsWave's 2008 Ripple Effect report showed that arts make people more engaged in civic responsibilities and give them a greater sense of connection and pride in their community. That research inspired the Blueprint for Collective Action for the Arts, the 10-year strategy ArtsWave released this year that aims to leverage the power of the arts to create a more vibrant regional economy and a more connected community.

 “The arts are what root us to a place and make us call it home,” Bennett said. 


Also at the luncheon, the association honored the 2015 Community Award winners, including Otto M. Budig, Jr., as Philanthropist of the Year. Other honorees are Dianne M. Rosenberg, Volunteer of the Year; Conner Reed Thomas, Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy; and Drew Lachey, Ambassador of Philanthropy