CityBeat Blogs - Funding <![CDATA[People's Liberty to Award Three $15,000 Grants to Local Artists ]]> Are you a local artist who can turn a 800-square-foot gallery space into something impactful and eye-catching? People’s Liberty, Cincinnati’s philanthropic laboratory, is looking for three talents to utilize their storefront Globe Gallery, located at the organization’s Over-the-Rhine headquarters. They begin accepting proposals on June 15 — when the application goes live — until July 20, and will notify the winning artists in late August. The storefront will undergo a trio of transformations in 2016, letting each artist have their own individual experience.

They don’t expect you to do it by yourself — the winning individuals will receive a $15,000 grant to install their exhibits, and will get assistance curating their projects from the organization. They’re looking for engaging, daring ideas that capitalize on the opportunities a storefront gallery space allows. The application requires a title, a video submission, a budget and a timeline, and will be reviewed by an independent panel.

The lab, which strives to bring together “civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati,” underwent renovations in March.

To learn more about the application process and requirements, visit

<![CDATA[People’s Liberty Announces 2015 Spring Project Grants]]>

People’s Liberty, a local group that describes itself as a “philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati,” has announced eight new grantees who will receive help and funding from the organization for their various project proposals. 

The group previously announced two 2015 Haile Fellows to receive funding and other support from People’s Liberty. Brad Cooper’s Start Small project involves building two efficient, low-cost “tiny houses” and engaging residents about the benefits of “tiny living” (the small, affordable homes will be powered by solar panels). Local musician Brad Schnittger was also named a Haile Fellow and is working on a music publishing platform called MusicLi, which will feature a library of original music by artists in Greater Cincinnati that can be licensed for commercial use (and provide income for the artists). Schnittger is currently surveying area businesses interested in using music in advertising to get a sense of their needs (click here if you’re involved in a business that would like to participate). There will be an event on May 7 at Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater (6-8 p.m.) to discuss the new venture (Cincy’s Buffalo Killers will provide live music). Click here for details.

The just-announced Spring Project Grantees were chosen by a panel of creative types, business people and others from the community. This round of grantees includes CityBeat editor Maija Zummo, along with partner Colleen Sullivan, whose project Made in Cincinnati is a planned “curated online marketplace that simplifies shopping locally by offering goods directly from Cincinnati’s best craftspeople, creatives and artisans in one centralized location.”

Others chosen by the panel include Daniel Schleith, Nate Wessel and Brad Thomas’s Metro*Now project, which will provide signs with real-time Metro bus information; Nancy Sunnenberg’s Welcome to Cincinnati tool, to help newcomers connect with “local organizations, businesses and civic opportunities”; Mark Mussman’s Creative App Project, which will certify several Cincinnati residents via an Android App Developers educational series; Alyssa McClanahan & John Blatchford’s Kunst: Build Art, a print magazine focused on redevelopment projects for local historic buildings; Quiera Levy-Smith’s Black Dance is Beautiful, described as a “cultural event … designed to showcase diversity in Cincinnati dance, as well as encourage youth to pursue their passions and break down barriers”; Anne Delano Steinert’s Look Here!, a history exhibition to take place in Over-the-Rhine and feature 50 historic photos to help people connect that neighborhood’s past and present; and Giancomo Ciminello’s Spaced Invaders, an interactive installation featuring “a projection mapped video game that will activate the abandoned spaces once occupied by buildings.” 

For more information on People’s Liberty’s work in the community (including information about how to apply if you have a good idea), click here

<![CDATA[Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowships Finalists Announced]]> After a long-established program that provided grants to individual artists was cut in 2009, City Council voted to re-instate and improve the program in an effort to show that Cincinnati is an art friendly city and to encourage artists to live and work here.

Under the old system, grants of $3,000-$5,000 were awarded to local artists. Now, the Cincinnati Arts Ambassador Fellowship Committee will provide more impactful grants of $6,000 to seven different artists.

The process kicked off at the beginning of the year when artists were invited to submit a letter and resume to City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan before Jan. 15. The invitation was open to artists of all different disciplines but they had to be residents of Cincinnati throughout the program (July 1, 2012-May 31, 2013).

After more than 100 applications applied, twelve finalists were announced on Tuesday.

“We were blown away at the number of applications,” Todd Wurzbacher, Chair of the Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee, said in a press release. He presented the list of finalists in Quinlivan’s Strategic Growth Committee today.  

The twelve finalists are Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Tatiana Berman, Pam Kravetz, Karen Heyl, Melissa Godoy, Guy Michael Davis, Tonya Matthews, Terri Kern, Casey Riordan Millard, Brad Austin Smith, Rondle West and Nathaniel Chaitkin.

The finalists will be interviewed by the Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee members, who will then choose the final seven artists to receive awards. The final awards will be given to seven artists on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of City Hall.

“I’m excited we have visual artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, and even a puppeteer in our finalists,” Quinlivan said in a press release. Quinlivan got council support to create the CAAF program. “More than 125 Cincinnati artists applied for the newly created Arts Ambassador Fellowship, proof that Cincinnati is a strong arts city,” she said.

<![CDATA[Emery Theatre Announces Restoration Plans]]>

The Emery Theatre is finally on its way back. After years of dormancy, the 100-year-old Over-the-Rhine venue is in the midst of a restoration that will allow artistic endeavors of varying stripes to grace its stage.

The Emery Center Corporation Board and The Requiem Project — the nonprofit brainchild of Tara Lindsey Gordon and Cincinnati native Tina Manchise, a duo intent on restoring the Emery's historic legacy — announced over the weekend that the Emery has secured two architects to take on the renovation: locally based John Senhauser Architects, and Cleveland-based Westlake Reed Leskosky, a firm that specializes in opening closed arts venues.---

“Our vision is to restore the Emery Theatre into a vibrant, acoustically pure performance space that will serve as an independent venue for film, theatre, music and dance for local and national touring artists,” Manchise says. “The restoration of the Emery Theatre is also part of a larger initiative to revitalize the social and cultural environment of historic Over-the-Rhine. The Emery will provide a venue for arts experiences and expression in the heart of this developing neighborhood.”

The most intriguing part of that equation is Manchise's mentioning of film — there hasn't been a viable movie house in downtown Cincinnati since the Real Movies closed more than a decade ago.

As a teaser, the Emery will open its doors the weekend of Nov. 11-13 for a fundraiser that will include performances by longtime local music-makers Over the Rhine, the MadCap Puppet Theatre, Exhale Dance Tribe and others. There is no definitive word on when the restoration will be complete, but the World Choir Games, which the Emery will host in July 2012, is rapidly approaching.

<![CDATA[ArtsWave Samplers Draw Strong Crowds]]>

ArtsWave has put out a very positive press release about the attendance for its first three Sampler Weekends, as well as information for the next three — including one this Saturday. ---

Here are excerpted, edited parts from the release: “Almost 9,000 people participated in the first three Sampler weekends,” notes Margy Waller, Vice President, ArtsWave. “Fitton Center for the Creative Arts reported that attendance doubled at their Sampler event this year, and the Mozart! collaboration between Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Know Theatre of Cincinnati drew a crowd of almost 1,000. Community members tell us that they are glad to have more opportunities to share fun arts experiences and visit different neighborhoods.”

More than 180 events have been scheduled at over 75 venues all over the region for the Sampler Weekend series. For a complete calendar of events and interactive search tool, go to New additions to the Sampler schedule include a preview of Enchanted April by The Drama Workshop at Westwood Town Hall on April 10; performances at the Blue Wisp on April 23, including Jazz and Swing from The P&G Big Band; and a full lineup of performances for Arte Latino, a festival of Latino arts and culture at the Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies on April 23.

Three Sampler weekends remain:

This Saturday — Spotlight on Neighborhoods: Kennedy Heights, Pleasant Ridge and Northside. Featured Organizations: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati May Festival Chorus

Sunday, April 10 — Featured Organization: Taft Museum of Art

Saturday, April 23 — Spotlight Neighborhood: Over-the-Rhine and Gateway Quarter. Featured Organizations: Contemporary Arts Center, Arte Latino

The ArtsWave Sampler Weekends are free celebrations of the arts in our community and occur throughout ArtsWave's annual community fundraising campaign.

<![CDATA[Revolving Stage Door]]>

Usually I make a theater recommendation for the weekend on Friday, but this week, I'm talking about another Stage Door, the one at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company where it's serving as an exit for someone who has played a big role in keeping the company stable and focused since 1999. ---

CSC Managing Director Rebecca Bromels has been named Artswave's new director of communications for ArtsWave. It's an important move, because the organization formerly known as the Fine Arts Fund has been in turbulent waters for several months as it has redefined its mission and taken on a trendy new name. Communications will be a central issue as ArtsWave moves forward with its annual fundaraising campaign in early 2011, as well as further establishing it as an organization that "helps create the kind of thriving arts environment that makes the Cincinnati region a better place to live, work, play, and stay." Bromels work at Cincy Shakes for a dozen years has kept the company stable and moving forward; for the past eight years, she has served as the company's managing director, a role that has often included marketing and public relations.

Mary McCullough-Hudson, Artswave's president and CEO, says, "Through her work at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Rebecca has been one of ArtsWave's collaborators. She was also one of the first to share her enthusiasm for what we learned about residents' appreciation for the way our region's arts centers, museums, dance, music, theatre and more make our community exciting. We're excited to have her officially on board and working to support and promote the mission of ArtsWave."

Meanwhile, back on Race Street, CSC has elevated Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips' title to "Producing Artistic Director"; Lettie Van Hemert, previously director of operations, steps into Bromels' former role as managing director. Phillips joined the company as an actor in 1999 and became its associate artistic director in 2002, then became the artistic director in 2003. A three-year veteran of the company, she has streamlined financial operations, managed the box office and upgraded the ticketing system. She previously spent seven years in various management roles with the Lincoln Community Playhouse and the Flatwater Shakespeare Company, both in Lincoln, Neb.

Bromels continues at CSC through Dec. 22. She gets a few days to catch her breath with her 1-year-old son and her husband, who works at Cincinnati Playhouse, and then begins speaking on behalf of ArtsWave on Jan. 4.

<![CDATA[Fine Arts Fund Scores Big]]>

The Fine Arts Fund announced Thursday night that donors gave $11 million for the arts in its annual fundraising campaign, an amount equal to 100 percent of the contributions in 2009. That met the goal set for this year and is more than any other such campaign in the nation, according to the FAF.---

Further, several foundations — including the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation — made additional contributions in special initiative funding to bring the total amount of money netted up to $12.3 million.

<![CDATA[CS13 Extends Deadline for Grant Application]]> CS13 gallery in Over-the-Rhine has extended until this Monday proposals for its March 14th Creative Economy Grant Dinner. Participants are asked to submit a one-paragraph proposal for why they want an arts grant. Then, at the $10-per-person dinner, attendees will vote on the best proposal and all dinner proceeds will go to that person. The dinner marks the conclusion of CS13's "Creative Economy" exhibition, about the overlap of art, labor and economics. Submit a proposal to Proposals can also be dropped off at the gallery, 1219 Sycamore St.

<![CDATA[CS13 Grass Roots Grant Dinner]]> As part of their Creative Economy exhibit, CS13 is hosting a grass roots grant dinner at 5 p.m. on March 14, where all creative types are invited to submit a project proposal in order to get a little financial boost. 

The Creative Economy exhibit deals with art and economics, particularly the prospects for creative sustainability in Cincinnati and nationally, art and its relationship to capital, and various narratives about how economic realities effect creative endeavors. The grant dinner will be part of the closing reception.---

According to the gallery's press release, "This past December saw City Council eliminate the Cincinnati artists grants program and its administrator from the city's 2010 budget, nixing the modest yearly total of $35,000 that was distributed through competitive individual artist grants...In response to these cuts, the closing grant dinner is intended to illuminate alternative funding possibilities at a grass roots level."

Each individual who attends the potluck-style dinner pays $10 for a plate. Prior to the dinner, the gallery will be accepting people's grant proposals, which will then be passed out and evaluated during dinner. Everyone who purchases a meal will get one vote to determine which creative project gets the grant. And then all income from the evening will be given to the chosen project. The amount of money is determined by the number of people attending. More people = more money!

In order to have a chance at the cash, you have to submit a paragraph summary of your project proposal/creative endeavor to by MARCH 1. Include your name, e-mail address and phone number. If you want to use snail mail, drop off a physical copy of your proposal to the gallery space at 1219 Sycamore St. Again, the deadline is MARCH 1.

Let's say you don't have an idea but you still want to hang out, you can RSVP for the dinner via e-mail, Facebook or by a note through the mail slot of the gallery or contribute a dish (vegan, vegetarian or meat are all welcome).

<![CDATA[Arts Study Is Roadmap to Wider Public Support]]>

The Fine Arts Fund has released the results of a year-long study intended to start the process of building more collective responsibility in Greater Cincinnati for the arts. Despite the general public’s longstanding support for arts and culture in their communities, charitable giving to and public funding of the arts struggle to keep up with demand nationally and locally — and this study was undertaken to try to “change the conversation” here about the arts as a shared public good and to motivate Cincinnatians to increase support.---

The study results are available now in the report The Arts Ripple Effect: A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts. You can read it or download it at the Fine Arts Fund’s web site here.

Those of us who participate in and value the arts have always been frustrated by perceptions that arts and culture are for the “elite,” that arts organizations must be self-sufficient financially and that the local arts are focused in just a few large institutions downtown and in Eden Park. The people who’ve said these things to me usually have no problem defending the use of tax money to build stadiums or roads I’ll never use and/or explaining that they never go downtown.

Here’s an interesting passage from the study that starts to get at why people often say they appreciate the arts but back away from offering concrete support in terms of time or money:

“Underlying what people say are several assumptions that work against the objective of positioning the arts as a public good:

The arts are a private matter: Arts are about individual tastes, experiences and enrichment, and individual expression by artists.

The arts are a good to be purchased: Therefore, most assume that the arts should succeed or fail, as any product does in the marketplace, based on what people want to purchase.

People expect to be passive, not active: People expect to have a mostly passive, consumer relationship with the arts. The arts will be offered to them, and therefore do not need to be created or supported by them.

The arts are a low priority: Even when people value art, it is rarely high on their list of priorities.”

The study concluded that the best way to get the public to move the arts up on their priority list is to focus on the concept that the arts create “ripple effects” of benefits throughout our community. The two main ripple effects:

A vibrant, thriving economy: Neighborhoods are more lively, communities are revitalized, tourists and residents are attracted to the area, etc.

A more connected population: Diverse groups share common experiences, hear new perspectives, understand each other better, etc.”

The Fine Arts Fund hired Margy Waller in 2008 to head its Arts and Culture Partnership, a new initiative to strengthen the region’s cultural assets. The Cincinnati native wanted to lead a new approach to building local support for the arts from the bottom up rather than, as with past failed efforts, from the top down, and this study was her first major initiative.

[For more background on her hiring and her goals, read my August 2008 interview with Waller here.]

Waller says the study results are being disseminated to all arts organizations in Greater Cincinnati and to national and local arts advocates, government leaders, think tanks and media. She’s also setting up meetings with interested civic groups for personal presentations, meeting with the Cincinnatus organization as I write this post.

“We need to move people to action,” Waller says. “We need to get to a place in Cincinnati where the arts are viewed as a benefit to the entire community and we share responsibility for them.”

<![CDATA[New Leaders at Taft Museum, Art Academy]]>

Taft Museum of Art has named its new director/CEO to replace Eric Lee, who left in the spring to head the Kimbal Art Museum in Fort Worth. She is Deborah Emont Scott, recently chief curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and before that the museum's Sanders Sosland curator of 20th Century. She becomes the sixth director in the Taft's 77-year-history.---

Scott helped lead the expansion and renovation of the Kansas City museum during her tenure, serving as project director for the 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park that surrounds the museum. She assumes her new job in November.

Meanwhile, the Art Academy of Cincinnati announced (via a press release using its highly stylized new LPK-designed logo in which the "A"s have turned into wigwam-style inverted "V"s; see the rendering above) that David Torbet Johnson, former chief curator of the Taft Museum, will serve as interim president while Trustee Carl Solway leads an advisory committee to find a permanent new head of the Over-the-Rhine art school. The previous director, Gregory Allgire Smith, left in July.

<![CDATA[Ohio Arts Council Facing Huge Budget Cut]]>

It was reported today that the Ohio Arts Council will be facing a budget reduction of 47 percent, one the largest percentage cuts in the new state budget.

From the OAC web site:

As the state’s budget heads to Governor Strickland’s desk for his signature, Ohio Arts Council staff is diligently working with final budget numbers to calculate fiscal year 2010 grant awards. Because the state arts budget was not finalized until July 10, 2009, grant award announcements will not be available until around July 24.

At the June OAC Board meeting, the Board voted to provisionally approve all grants for one year, instead of two years for some programs, until a special emergency session of the Board can be held in August to determine the best course of action for agency programs and operations.

The final version of the FY2010/2011 budget ($13,188,578 for the biennium) will reduce OAC grants by 38 percent from the final FY2009 budget and 47 percent from the original FY2008/2009 appropriation ($24.9 million). This will have a significant impact on FY2010/2011 grant amounts, although actual percentage reductions will vary by program. Some programs will be put on hiatus. This drastically reduced budget severely limits the ability of the OAC to provide financial assistance to artists, arts organizations, schools and other entities engaged in cultural programming throughout the state.

"Ohio’s cultural sector is critically important to the economic recovery of our state. The OAC will continue to do its best to help support the arts and cultural organizations that are reeling from the effects of the economic downturn,” said OAC Executive Director Julie Henahan. “Even at this dramatically reduced level, OAC funding will help maintain jobs, support education programs and drive tourism in Ohio.”

Headquartered in Columbus, the OAC was founded in 1965 to "foster and encourage the development of the arts and assist the preservation of Ohio's cultural heritage."

For fiscal year 2009, the OAC granted $1,498,651 to Cincinnati-based artists and organizations.

Most of the large arts organizations in Cincinnati received some funding from the OAC for 2009, including Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Arts Association, Children's Theater of Cincinnati, Contemporary Arts Center, Urban Appalachian Council, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, Media Bridges, Madcap Productions, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Women Writing For (a) Change, Taft Museum, Cincinnati Boychoir and many more.

A total of 65 grants were awarded in Cincinnati for 2009. The five largest grants were:

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: $404,986
Playhouse in the Park: $144,817
Cincinnati Museum Association: $167,512
Cincinnati Opera: $100,142
Cincinnati Ballet: $91,966

To see all the grants awarded in Cincinnati, click here.

To learn more about the Ohio Arts Council, visit