Throughout the Cincinnati region, arts organizations rely on project grants to plant seeds that grow into something greater over time. ArtsWave’s Catalyzing Impact Grant program gives these projects — small experiments with radical intent — the resources they need to take root. It’s helped jumpstart or expand nearly 200 arts projects over the past five years, awarding over $1 million in total.
Many of these projects have fueled economic vibrancy by enlivening the Cincinnati region’s neighborhoods. In 2017, the Village of Silverton began to use the arts to reverse a decades-long trend of population decline. When a ship runs aground, sailors row the anchor to deeper water, allowing them to pull the ship free in a process called "kedging." A grant from ArtsWave contributed to the development of Silverton’s Master Plan to use public art as a "kedge anchor" for economic growth.
Since that time, two public art projects, also funded through ArtsWave, have been installed in a once-desolate park: a mural, ”All in This Story Together,” and an outdoor sculpture, “Convergent Focus.“ The park has transformed into a welcoming community meeting place along the business corridor on Montgomery Road. Silverton has seen a new UDF location, HighGrain Brewing Company, a $40 million mixed-use development, and two coffee shops sprout up near this budding community art spot. "Three years ago, we had zero public art and zero coffee shops. Now we have two of each," notes Village Manager Tom Carroll. With additional support from a Haile Foundation grant, his village is now exploring ways to weave equity into another mixed use development currently in planning stages.
Cincinnati’s Northside has also used the arts to enliven neighborhoods. In 2011, PAR-Projects hosted the Factory Square Fine Arts Festival, a three-day celebration of art and music that brought 2,000 people to the neighborhood. That success attracted developers who built The Gantry, the first large-scale new construction in Northside’s business district in more than 60 years.
In fall of 2020, a Catalyzing Impact grant from ArtsWave helped make Studeō PAR- come to life. It’s one of 67 such grants, totaling $400,000, that ArtsWave awarded this fiscal year. The 15,000 square foot facility is a permanent home for PAR-Projects and a place to foster creative connections for other artists and organizations. Already, Studeō PAR- has six tenants designing the space to better their work. Musicians from Cincinnati Music Accelerator will create demo tracks at a new recording studio on-site. Revolution Dance Theatre will use the facility’s dance studio as their new education center. The mirrors in the dance studio unhinge and flip to become white boards, transforming the area into a community room. Each tenant brings unique talents to the table that will shine together at collaborative Studeō PAR- events.
ArtScape Lebanon, also a recipient of Catalyzing Impact funding in the fall 2020 cycle, is hard at work enlivening its neighborhood while also committing to bridging cultural divides. Their new space, called The Depot, will serve as a space for classes and camps as well as a gallery to highlight local artists. The gallery’s first public exhibition, opening in celebration of Juneteenth, will highlight Black artists from or living in Warren County. The county is over 85% white, according to 2019 census estimates, and the organization is determined to foster a culture that values diversity and equity. ArtScape board member Kristen Davenport explains, "One of the things we really want to do is make art accessible and inclusive." The exhibition is one step in that direction. Another is significant renovations, funded by an ArtsWave grant, to create accessible entrances.
On June 21, 2021, the Cincinnati region will participate in a worldwide annual tradition, Make Music Day. In 2017, when the celebration first came to Greater Cincinnati, it was limited to a single venue. In spring 2021, Make Music Cincinnati received a Catalyzing Impact Grant, and so far, 40 venues are committed to the occasion, with over 45 musicians or bands on board to perform.
ArtsWave’s criteria for grant funding is based on the Blueprint for Collective Action for the Arts Sector. The Blueprint identifies the key impacts the arts can create to build a more vibrant economy and connected community. As the region comes together to support the 2021 ArtsWave Campaign, you can help keep these impacts going at artswave.org/give.