Playhouse launches incubator

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park announced the inaugural class of its new arts and culture incubator program, which will provide resources and mentoring to nine local organizations and two Cincinnati-based theatre artists.

The program will offer members the ability to grow and scale their existing work through the use of facility spaces in the new mainstage theater complex for classes, events, rehearsals, creative work, networking and collaboration. The Playhouse also will provide professional development services to each member.

Derek Snow

The members of the 2023 program are:

  • Theater artist Derek J. Snow;
  • Theater artist Curtis D. Shepard;
  • Cincinnati Music Accelerator;
  • Cincinnati Pride;
  • Duwaup’s Cincinnati Poetry Slam;
  • Elevated Aerials;
  • Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition;
  • Heroes Rise Street Dance Academy;
  • Queen City Flash;
  • Science on Tap;
  • Young Professionals Choral Collective of Cincinnati.

“Theater is inherently a collaborative art form — no play makes it to the stage without the talents of a production team and a company that affords them resources,” said Blake Robison, the Osborn Family producing director. “We recognize that we can provide this same kind of collaborative energy for our artistic and cultural peers. It’s a privilege for us to share our new facility and its resources so they can continue and deepen their work. Ultimately, our entire community benefits from their talents.”

Robison worked with Daunielle Rasmussen, the Playhouse’s director of artistic engagement, to create the program, which was born out of conversations they had with local artists and organizations during the pandemic regarding how their needs and how future Playhouse programming could support them.

“We heard a lot of the same thing: Artists in Cincinnati need space, professional development, equipment and visibility,” Rasmussen said. “We recognized that our name has weight, and just by backing a partner that we’ve worked with previously on shows and projects, it opened doors for them to pursue other partnerships that hadn’t been available to them.”

Each of incubator partners has worked with the Playhouse or with Playhouse partners in some way. Both of the resident artists were selected as part of The Breath Project in 2021, a national artistic initiative with whom the Playhouse partnered.

Curtis Shepard

“Partnerships like these keep Cincinnati’s arts community rich with talent and collaboration,” said Robison. “Many times, artists and individuals have a lot of passion for what they do but they find themselves doing it alone or without enough resources. That can often be solved by simply having connections to like-minded people or being able to access a space that’s specifically designed for creative use. The Playhouse can do that for them, and we welcome them to consider our new facility as an artistic home.”

The 2023-24 resident artists of the arts and culture incubator:

  • Curtis D. Shepard is an actor, writer and spoken-word artist, as well as the founder of the grassroots support group for dads, D.A.A.M. (Dads Against Angry Moms), which supports moms with more than money. The group’s primary objective is to encourage absent dads to be present dads, present dads to be good dads, good dads to be great dads, and great dads to reach out and share their experiences and strengths. Curtis has kept busy touring his two, one-man shows, UnMasked and Sidewaze Rain. In 2021, actors from across the country pulled together to participate in his staged reading, Get Off Of Me, performed at the Pacific Northwest Multi-Cultural Readers Series & Film Festival. He was a finalist in the 2021 Breath Project with his production, Ronnie and Vince. Recently, Curtis co-starred in the stage play Trapped, which premiered at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival in August 2022.
  • Derek Snow has been active in the Cincinnati theatre community as an actor, writer and director for over four decades. A graduate of Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts, Derek continued his education in New York City before returning to his hometown to teach inner-city youth dramatic arts in the public school system. He has been with the popular physical theatre group Performance Gallery for the past 21 years. His written work has been produced in Atlanta; New Jersey; London; India; and Sydney, Australia. His latest short play, Wind Kill Factor, was recently read for a sold-out audience at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Derek created the nonprofit Missing Front Plate Productions in 2020 to address the lack of BIPOC work in theatres nationwide. He was the inaugural recipient of The Breath Project’s New Play Commission for 2021. His two-act play, Silas, The Uninvited, will be performed in New York City; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Detroit later this year. As a director, his most recent efforts have been: Intimate Apparel at Mariemont Players, Inc.; Fannie Lou: Speak on It! at Know Theatre; Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Falcon Theatre; and Fabulation, Or The Re-Education of Undine at Footlighters, Inc.

The organizations of the arts and culture incubator:

  • Cincinnati Music Accelerator is Ohio’s first music career accelerator organization, focused on making Cincinnati a music city through job placement and education.
  • The purpose of Cincinnati Pride is to provide the Greater Cincinnati LGBTQIA+ community and our allies with a forum that promotes inclusion and acceptance while affirming individuality. They work to produce programs that inspire, educate and commemorate our rich history, while also celebrating our diverse culture.
  • DuWaup’s Cincinnati Poetry Slam is targeted to artists with a desire to showcase original works in poetry, prose and verse through performance praxis.
  • Known for custom, creative and engaging performances, the team at Elevated Aerials brings zeal and love for this art form to every event where they grace the air!
  • Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition exists to preserve and represent the culture and heritage of Native American, Indigenous and First Nations Peoples by, but not limited to, providing education, advocacy and support on contemporary Indigenous issues and by cultivating knowledge about Native American history in local and regional communities.
  • Heroes Rise Street Dance Academy is Cincinnati’s only program for authentic street dance education. Not only do they present fundamental street dance movements but also add history and culture, all in a party-/club-like atmosphere.
  • Queen City Flash is Director Bridget Leak and Playwright/Composer Trey Tatum. They are committed to creating bold new plays and relaxed, affordable experiences for the entire family.
  • Science on Tap – Cincinnati is dedicated to raising awareness of the value and contribution of science in the Greater Cincinnati community. They are committed to championing local scientists and supporting science education.
  • The Young Professionals Choral Collective of Cincinnati (YPCC) is an innovative choral ensemble that combines Cincinnati’s love of singing, socializing and culture for young professionals ages 21 to 45. YPCC comprises more than 1,200 singers who create and share high-quality music in an accessible, fun and social way.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.


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