Photo credit: Carlynne with Bergette Photography

Elementz, a thriving urban arts center, is truly a Cincinnati gem. Since 2001, Elementz has been fostering talent and inspiring possibilities for more than 800 inner-city youths in Cincinnati. What started as an after-school program to get kids off the street, has become a beacon of hope to build dreams and brighter futures. Elementz who got their start in a repurposed basement, recently relocated to brand-new space on Race Street near Findlay Market. Their new location embraces the humble beginnings of the organization while highlighting the immense talent of the young people who come through their doors. We caught up with Managing Director, Tom Kent, to tour the space and chat.

The unassuming street view of the building might as well be a metaphor for what Elementz is accomplishing with the kids they mentor. Elementz teaches and encourages art that comes out of urban life and experience. Specifically, they use hip-hop as a way to encourage self-expression, personal growth and improve student achievement. This new space gives Elementz the flexibility to create, perform and highlight the talent of their students. With a full dance studio, soundproof DJ booth, two A.V. studios and an art/graffiti room, the students can create expert-level projects to help them prepare for a career in music or art.

Career training is what separates Elementz from other programs and organizations. The kids receive mentors who are in professions that they would like to pursue as well as tours of local colleges. As Tom puts it, “ most of our kids think college is a place on the moon that is unattainable. We take them on tours to show them that it’s not only realistic, but achievable if they work hard enough. ... We also bring back former students that have graduated from high school and college, to give their knowledge back to the kids. It makes a world of difference in their perspective.”

This place has become such a driving force in the OTR and downtown neighborhoods that Mayor John Cranley proclaimed June 18 — the day Elementz's unveils their new space — "Elementz Day." This signifies a special moment for the organization and an affirmation of community support.

You can visit Elementz at their community open house on Thursday, July 26 from 6-8 p.m. You can also join them for food, art, music, & community, a collaboration with Findlay Market and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, on Thursday, August 9 from 5-8 p.m.