ArtsWrap Host Alecia Kintner with guests Carl Satterwhite, Brent Billingsley and Ray Gargano

Hear the full discussion with Carl Satterwhite, Brent Billingsley and Ray Gargano on episode three of ArtsWrap with Alecia, available wherever you get your podcasts.

As a child in Lincoln Heights, 2023 ArtsWave Campaign Co-Chair Carl Satterwhite didn't grow up surrounded by the arts. Not until 2020, with his support and ArtsWave's, did his hometown see its first mural painted on a public park wall.

"When I was growing up, the arts weren't necessarily embedded in my day-to-day life," Satterwhite, the founder of RCF Group, told ArtsWrap. "I didn't see leaders of any stature that were able to prove to me that art is what helps you to be your authentic self, that art has a way of bringing out of you something that you didn't even know was there. I missed that experience."

The power of the arts to elevate and inspire is what motivates Satterwhite to increase community support for the arts, and in particular, arts education. "For me, arts must start at a young age. I'm going to ensure that my grandchildren get a full immersion in the arts and experience all of the wonders that this community has to offer."

Today's Black artists see the importance of activating arts in Cincinnati neighborhoods just as clearly as Satterwhite does. Brent Billingsley, an arts therapist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with a master's degree and years of experience with young people, explained that he is increasingly taking his art to the streets.

Art breaks through so much. When kids see African-American males, especially, that are doing things in a community artistically, they gravitate to that and see that you can do this, too. It gives life; it gives hope; it gives purpose." Billingsley is so committed to bridging divides through the arts that he designed a program, "I'm Listening, funded by ArtsWave, to connect police and local youth.

On weekends and after school, Billingsley brought youth to and from behavioral programs, group homes, and various school districts to work alongside Cincinnati Police. "We broke strong cultural divides artistically," he said. "We painted, we ate, we journaled, we did poetry. We used the arts to overcome stigmas that have existed from the beginning."

Connecting influencers like Billingsley with historic realities is the work of this generation's cultural leaders. That's why Satterwhite and 2023 Co-Chair Scott Robertson, CEO of RCF Group, are challenging the community to underwrite thousands of arts field trips over the next five years. They call on us to leverage the power of Cincinnati's well-established arts institutions to inspire hearts and minds. Our kids deserve nothing less.