"Together We Win" mural by Brandon Hawkins

As we celebrate Black History Month and the wide variety of African American arts events the region has to offer now and throughout the year, ArtsWave recently announced 27 new projects with Black and Brown artists that will receive a total of $271,638 on the theme of “truth and reconciliation.” Grants average $10,000 each, and are funded by the City of Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Duke Energy, Fifth Third Bank and ArtsWave’s Arts Vibrancy Recovery Fund.

City of Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman championed the city’s funding of this grants program, noting that, “the Cincinnati region’s artists – especially many local Black and Brown artists – often lack the support they need to be successful.”

Twenty-two grant recipients were selected from a competitive applicant pool of 49 artists from across the region. In addition, five master artists, whose work has been supported by ArtsWave over the last decade or longer, were awarded funding for their projects on the same theme. Grant selection was chaired by Toilynn O’Neal, founder of the Robert O’Neal Multi Cultural Arts Center (“The ROMAC”), working with 16 individuals representing a cross-section of cultural and civic organizations as well as businesses.

The projects reflect a variety of artistic disciplines and approaches to the complexities of truth and reconciliation. Some of the projects focus on history. Others hold a mirror up to the present.

Each has a public performance, display or showcase, with plans for an exhibition in partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in summer 2021. Many artists are planning for both live and digital versions of their work, a reflection of both the potential for wider reach through technology and the ongoing health risks of the pandemic.

Artists are also asked to involve some aspect of collaboration with community members and other partners in their projects, so that the larger public can participate in reconciling the moment and imagining a more just and equitable future for the Cincinnati region through the arts. As a group, the projects advance ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action and the powerful goals of bridging cultural divides, promoting understanding and empathy, deepening the roots of residents, and improving neighborhoods.

The new projects build on the momentum created by Cincinnati’s Black Lives Matter mural and Cincinnati Music Festival’s Outdoor Museum, both of which also received funding from ArtsWave.

ArtsWave President & CEO Alecia Kintner notes, “The arts are one of our most effective tools for illuminating even the most challenging moments and encouraging dialogue that can lead to positive change and greater understanding. Knowing that we have much to learn from the artists in our community, ArtsWave is pleased to support the creation of 27 thoughtful and provocative works by local Black and Brown visionaries this spring.”

Click here for the complete list of recipients.