"It's not that there weren't talented African Americans creating art... They weren't finding the same platform. They weren't finding the same sustainability," says Mel Gravely, CEO of Triversity Construction and co-chair of Flow, an African American Arts Experience.
Gravely, along with other community leaders, took note of this disconnect in what he calls the "tremendous wealth of arts" in Cincy and turned it into an opportunity.
ArtsWave's Flow initiative began as an effort to cultivate the diverse, culturally curious audiences necessary for new organizations to reach sustainability. Early Flow events invited world-renowned Black artists to perform in Cincy, pairing each with an intentional opportunity for social connection across racial divides. Flow co-chair Mary Stagaman says it was a matter of "finding ways to bring people of different backgrounds together for exciting programs that speak to the African American experience."
This year, ArtsWave introduces an all-new Flow Pass, the first time Cincy arts patrons can purchase a single subscription for events at multiple premier venues. The 2023-24 season includes partnerships with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Taft Museum of Art, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Cincinnati Ballet and the upcoming installation of "The American Manifest" by internationally renowned artist Charles Gaines in collaboration with Creative Time (NYC). Each event showcases Black artistic excellence and comes with a unique social gathering "I don't know any better way to bring us together than through the arts," Gravely explains.
Flow complements other efforts in the arts sector to be relevant for, and inclusive of, all people. "We're seeing the entire ecosystem supporting a wider array of diversity in programming," says Stagaman. While celebrating that progress, Gravely acknowledges, "It's never enough, and I totally get that... but we’ve made so much progress from where we were, and we'll keep doing that work."
To purchase a Flow Pass and support building a sustainable, culturally curious audience, visit artswave.org/flow.