Arts & Culture News: Aug. 19, 2020

News briefs for the week to keep you up-to-date …

New ArtsWave-produced book celebrates Power of Her

ArtsWave has released a new book, “Imagineers • Impresarios • Inventors: Cincinnati’s Arts and the Power of Her.” Edited by Kathy Merchant – former president/CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and a member of ArtsWave Women’s Leadership Roundtable – the book is written by more than 30 local authors.

Imagineers • Impresarios • Inventors: Cincinnati’s Arts and the Power of Her” tells the inspiring stories of the powerful influence of nearly 200 women. These are artists, arts patrons and philanthropists, executive leaders, volunteers, collectors, and advocates – both past and present – who have helped define Cincinnati. They are women who founded Cincinnati’s museums, theaters, musical and dance organizations, schools, and civic organizations.

The book is part of ArtsWave’s 18-month POWER OF HER initiative, presented by P&G with support from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, LPK and various community leaders.

Production costs for the book are underwritten by four local women: Karen Bowman, Melanie Chavez, and Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell. Additional support comes from The Landen Family Foundation, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

The book is available for purchase at

Proceeds support continued advancement and innovation by women artists and supporters. 

Roo Valley now open at Cincinnati Zoo

Spacious new habitats for little blue penguins and two species of kangaroos opened to the public Aug. 18 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Both are part of Roo Valley, funded through the zoo’s More Home to Roam capital campaign and also includes Hops craft beer garden and Kanga Klimb, an ADA-accessible adventure ropes course that will open in 2021.

Ballet gets creative for ’20-’21 season

Scott Altman and Victoria Morgan
Scott Altman and Victoria Morgan (photo by Tina Gutierrez)

Cincinnati Ballet has adapted its 2020-2021 Season based on recommendations from government and health officials and in line with sister organizations regionally and nationally.

Cincinnati Ballet kicks off the season September 25-27 with a free, socially distanced production in partnership with Cincinnati Parks at Sawyer Point’s P&G Pavilion along the Ohio River. Outdoor performances will showcase selections of favorite solos and pas de deux from our the company’s repertoire. In November, an intimate, indoor workshop performance will highlight the talents of Cincinnati Ballet artists, as dancers, as choreographers and innovators. Keeping in mind appropriate social distancing, the company will offer a re-imagined “Nutcracker” experience, December 17-23, in an hour-long program in the Music Hall Ballroom.

Opening the second half of the season, The Kaplan New Works Series will move from the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater to Springer Auditorium at Music Hall. New Works will be performed in front of the proscenium, in the space typically occupied by musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. 

The ballet’s Family Series regional premiere of “Snow White” will shift from February to April – showcasing Cincinnati Ballet Second Company and Otto M. Budig Academy students, and will feature live actors narrating the story.

April will also feature a mixed-repertoire program, “Bold Moves Plus,” and will celebrate legendary contemporary choreography. Artistic Director Victoria Morgan’s whimsical “Cinderella” is now slated to close the season, June 10-20. This production will also mark the opening of the new Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance in Walnut Hills.

Single tickets for the 2020-2021 season will go on sale later this fall. 

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CSO takes lead in tackling diversity; expands ‘Fanfare’ project

CSO President Jonathan Martin

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra unveiled today a 10-point Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, developed to immediately prioritize the organization’s deepening commitment to better representing and serving the entirety of its community. The DE&I Action Plan accelerates the process of achieving the organization’s existing DE&I goals and objectives.

At the core of the plan is the creation of a new senior management position for the orchestra. The Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer will guide the organization’s DE&I work across every department.

The 10-point plan also calls for the creation of a standing CSO Community Advisory Council to strengthen the orchestra’s ties to the community. Additionally, the CSO is implementing implicit bias training for musicians, board and staff; the continued amplification of BIPOC artists in CSO, Pops and educational programming; a review of hiring and compensation policies and practices; increased mentorship opportunities; and more. 

“The creation of an executive-level Chief Diversity Officer places the Cincinnati Symphony at the leading edge of change in the orchestra field,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “Our research confirms that one of the biggest barriers to progress is the lack of staff capacity. This move by the CSO models the level of commitment it takes to bring about equitable, diverse and inclusive organizations.” 

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The CSO has also shared details of seven additional composers for “The Fanfare Project” composing initiative for both the CSO and Pops. Each composer will write solo-instrument responses to the coronavirus pandemic: Samuel Carl Adams, Daníel Bjarnason, Jason Robert Brown, Courtney Bryan, Rhiannon Giddens, Jonathan Bailey Holland and Jeffrey Mumford.

Pope designates St. Peter in Chains a ‘Minor Basilica’

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr has announced that Pope Francis has granted the title of Minor Basilica to Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati. The title is given to churches around the world in recognition of their historical or cultural importance, artistic beauty and significance in the life of the Church. The title denotes a closer relationship to the Pope. The title of Major Basilica is reserved for certain churches in Rome. The Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains will now be known as Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains and becomes only the 89th such basilica in the United States, joining Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington. Pope Pius XII elevated the Kentucky cathedral to the rank of minor basilica in 1953.

Father Jan Kevin Schmidt

Father Jan Kevin Schmidt, rector of St. Peter in Chains since 2017 – with permission from Archbishop Schnurr – requested the Minor Basilica designation in 2018 from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The cathedral, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary this November, is the oldest cathedral – built as a cathedral – still in use in the United States. Designed by Henry Walter, architect of the state capitol building in Columbus, the cornerstone of St. Peter in Chains was laid on May 20, 1841.

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