ArtsWave grants $230K to 36 entities

Cincinnati-based ArtsWave, the nation’s largest community arts fundraising organization, named this week 36 organizations who will receive $230,000 in funding — impacting 22 different neighborhoods in Greater Cincinnati.

The National Endowment for the Arts provided $50,000 of the amount.

This wave of funding puts the total invested by ArtsWave in the 16-county region at nearly $1.8 million. The $230,000 in funding is the 13th set of projects the community has funded through the annual ArtsWave campaign since 2016.

Alicia Kintner, ArtsWave president and CEO

All approved projects were selected based on their ability to further ArtsWave’s mission to create a more vibrant regional economy and connected community, emphasizing one or more of the arts sector’s five goals.

Unlike other ArtsWave grant initiatives, this program is open to any nonprofit proposing an idea that meets the criteria.

Several of the projects selected in this wave support ArtsWave’s goal of “fuel creativity and learning,” complementing this year’s annual campaign chairmen’s challenge, which is raising $1 million for arts education through field trips for at-risk school children so that all Cincinnati Public School elementary students can experience a trip to an arts and cultural institution.

ArtsWave is at the halfway point in its annual community campaign.

The campaign helps ArtsWave provide $10 million annually in essential year-over-year operating support for 40 of the region’s largest arts organizations, plus project grants supporting African American arts, programming for young professionals and LBGTQIA+ programming.

Project Descriptions

1N5: $5,000


“STAY ALIVE / MAKE ART / CINCINNATI” is a participatory exhibition that explores mental health by engaging teens in creative investigation. Along with Amos Lemon Burkhart’s powerfully emotional art, fifteen hands-on art activities will invite participants to “reflect, make, see, write, be, chill and do.” A paid youth art team will work with local mentors to help facilitate school and group tours, create their own art-based response and receive training in peer-led mental health first aid. Wave Pool Gallery will host the exhibition in partnership with WordPlay Cincy and The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

African Professionals Network (APNET): $10,000

AfriFest Cincy 2023

On July 29, the African Professionals Network (APNET) will host the ninth annual AfriFest Cincy: Taste of Africa at Burnet Woods. The free public event celebrates African arts and builds cultural awareness in the community. It is the largest African cultural event in the region, featuring dance performances, a fashion show, food trucks, pop-up shops, live entertainment and more.

Alliance of Chinese Culture & Arts USA: $2,200

Cincinnati Asian Arts Festival 2023

The Cincinnati Asian Arts Festival will return to the Square at Liberty Center from noon to 4 p.m. on October 7, 2023. Hosted by Chinese, Filipino, Indian and other Asian cultural groups, the event features folk dances, music performances and community art activities like painting, paper-cutting and calligraphy.

ARTE: $3,000


ARTE CEO Brent Billingsley curates this exhibition celebrating Cincinnati’s beloved Joe Morgan of the Reds. The show will empower young artists and teams of artists selected from seniors in Cincinnati Region high schools. The artists will create a three-piece body of work gaining exposure and honing their artistic practice. Eight artists or teams will create 24 pieces in total, each using art to celebrate the legacy of the Joe Morgan, a pioneer for overcoming cultural obstacles.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Ballet & Books: $4,000

Ballet & Books Homebase: Cincinnati Program

Ballet & Books is a national nonprofit headquartered in Cincinnati. Inspired by founder and executive director Talia Bailes’ experiences with local dance programs, “Ballet & Books Homebase” will provide free weekly programming centered around dance, literacy and mentorship. In collaboration with community partners like the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library and University of Cincinnati students, the program will reach under-resourced families in Walnut Hills and surrounding neighborhoods.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Ben Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund: $5,650

Music lessons for Shroder High School orchestra classes

Modeled after the Ben Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund’s successful program at Withrow University High School, this project will provide five highly qualified teachers to Shroder High School’s orchestra classes to teach private violin, viola, cello and bass lessons to any of the 60 students. The schools’ orchestra teacher will select students based on their desire to advance on their instrument, their commitment to lessons and their interest in classical music. Students will gain enriching musical and mentoring experience, supporting their growth as musicians and young people.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Carthage Civic League: $2,000

“Putting the ART in Carthage”

The second annual “Putting the ART in Carthage” will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The goal of this event is to showcase the creative talent of the residents of Carthage through fine art, crafts and performance art. Anyone who lives, works or worships in Carthage is invited to submit their creative works for the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. The spirit of the Carthage Event Series is all about bringing Carthage neighbors together. What better way to commune than through the arts?

Cindependent Film Festival: $8,500

The 2023 Cindependent Film Festival

The two-day Cindependent Film Festival (CIFF) features film screenings, live screenplay readings, talk-backs, networking opportunities and educational events. The event attracts over 700 artistic submissions from emerging and mid-career artists all over the world, each of whom shares their unique vision with Cincinnati. CIFF removes barriers to storytelling by providing access to professional resources and allowing each individual the opportunity to be inspired by a large variety of style, genre and ingenuity.

Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble: $10,000

2023 expansion of CFE High School Vocal Music Education Program

Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble (CFE) will continue to expand and enhance its growing High School Vocal Music Education Program by serving 30 youths through its tuition-free Vocal Scholar Program in 2023. The program offers half-hour private voice lessons to high school students (70%+ from low-income families and 80%+ BIPOC) and a Piano Lab, preparing them to audition for college admission and scholarships. As the program expands for 2023, CFE will serve 10 additional youths and deepen impact by introducing a Women Composers Workshop Series benefiting CFE students.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition: $5,000

Wellness & Culture through Art Forms

Wellness & Culture through Art Forms is an event presented by Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition (CMWC) with a goal for communities to understand cultures and customs through musical performances, dance, storytelling and visual art. CMWC is partnering with the Ohio Asian American Coalition Cincinnati Chapter, Burundian community, Nepali Language & Art Center, Appalachian Community Development Association, a Native American Drum group, a blind Native American drum tribe and the University of Cincinnati Medical Symphony Orchestra.

The Cincinnati Review/University of Cincinnati: $3,400

Queer Soup x Queer Stories

Queer Soup x Queer Stories (QSxQS) is a biannual, emphatically intersectional evening of queer performance and exhibition curated by the Cincinnati Review in partnership with Lil’s Kitchen and Cincinnati Black Pride. Hosted at Esoteric Brewing Company, QSxQS will celebrate queer talent and togetherness across a range of artistic disciplines with all-you-can-eat soup, open-mic performances from local and UC-affiliated storytellers and poets, burlesque by Smoke & Queers, music by DJ Erikka Gray and more.

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati: $6,500

Summer Artist-Steward program

The Summer Artist-Steward Program is an active collaboration between Julia Orquera Bianco, an Argentinian artist, nature enthusiast and art instructor at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and the Civic Garden Center. This program aims to involve six local young artists. It will run for six weeks and will include weekly on-site meetings with ecology, horticulture and urban agriculture experts at the Civic Garden Center. Ms. Bianco will also support campus artists through one-on-one meetings. The program will culminate in a group exhibition at the Civic Garden Center, featuring site-specific, eco-consciously created installations and public programming.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Commonwealth Artists Student Theatre: $4,500

Theatre SMRT

Theatre Student Mentor Resource Team (Theatre SMRT) provides teams of three qualified high school technical theater students (lighting, sound, scenic design/building and costumes) to area high schools in need of technical support in their own theater programs. The students will consult a few hours per week at selected schools with the goal of strengthening their peers’ knowledge, capacity and execution of technical elements. Additionally, the Theatre SMRT team members will further develop their communication skills, problem-solving abilities and team-building processes. The students are paid for their time, as are theater education professionals who serve as advisors.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Creative Aging Cincinnati: $10,000

Meaningful art programs for seniors in our community

Creative Aging Cincinnati will provide a total of 62 on-site programs for seniors residing in nursing homes and assisted/independent living communities, or those attending day programs and senior centers. Of those programs, 50 will serve low-income and minority seniors. The remaining 12 programs will be new program collaborations with local arts organizations not currently serving the senior population. The project connects local artists and arts organizations with seniors in our community.

Dearborn Highlands Arts Council: $2,000

Improvement/expansion of gallery

Dearborn Highlands Arts Council (DHAC) will improve and expand the DHAC Gallery space to meet Safety/ADA regulations and provide display flexibility for new art forms.

Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati: $4,125

Personal Growth and Expression through Theater

In partnership with the American Legacy Theatre, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati will implement a theater program for teens and adults. This program will provide opportunities for creative expression and personal growth as each participant has the opportunity to write, design and act in their own original production focused on an issue or topic that is important to them. In addition to exposing the participants to theater, the participant-led performances will also enhance verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Fourthwall Youth Studios: $10,000

“Shut Down the Stigma. Turn Up the Talk” youth mental health film series

Fourthwall Youth Studios and Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC Cincy) will facilitate peer-to-peer conversations through a youth-focused, youth-driven film series. The series integrates narrative filmmaking, spoken word poetry and commissioned art to change the narrative on learning disabilities and mental health stigmas in our youth.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance: $6,558

Synergy Series: A Shared Evening of Dance

The Synergy Series is a dance initiative conceived by Rowan Salem and Teresa VanDenend Sorge for Cincinnati area movement artists, with the purpose of strengthening the dance community through shared performances. Emerging and established choreographers from diverse backgrounds who practice varying genres of dance are invited to propose new or existing dance works. In addition to presenting on a curated evening of dance, artists will be given opportunities to network with other choreographers via social media initiatives and in-person events. This series is the only performance opportunity of its kind in Cincinnati and will enhance the careers of the artists.

Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition: $5,000

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Convergence 2023

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Convergence is a four-day celebration, coupled with a multi-week gallery show in October. It’s a collaboration on current issues affecting Natives and the World, a look into our bright future and a celebration of the resilience of Native American community, culture and heritage. With Native artists, speakers and performers, it amplifies authentic Native voices to bring the community out of history and imagination and into the now. A relationship-centered exchange of ideas engages Native and non-Native allies alike.

Inspiration Studios: $10,000

Community education program

InsideOut Studio artists and staff will provide a six-week summer camp for students at the Booker T. Washington Community Center to teach them a variety of art media, including fused glass, ceramics, mosaics and painting. This unique opportunity will allow the artists with disabilities to earn an income and gain professional development and enrichment opportunities while simultaneously exposing underserved children (85% BIPOC) to various forms of art. This partnership was identified and established to support equitable access to arts experiences for youth of all races/ethnicities while promoting cross-cultural understanding through the arts.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

ish Festival: $10,000

“Essence” Artist in Residence at 2023 ish Festival

 ish is weaving a common thread of human experience through art from different cultures, communities and perspectives. As part of its 2023 Festival, ish will host an Israeli Artist in Residence who will engage artists, organizations and community members both in and outside of the Cincinnati community, bridging cultural divides with opportunities that may be otherwise unavailable to them due to geographical or economic barriers.

Jazz Alive: $5,000

“Jazz in the Camp” at American Sign Museum

Jazz Alive will present “Jazz in the Camp,” a weekly jazz concert series in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Camp Washington. The series is held every Wednesday in June at the American Sign Museum, the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States and a welcome gathering space. The 2023 four-week series will feature well known jazz artists from the Greater Cincinnati area, as well as regional and national musicians

Music on Court: $3,750

Musical instruments and accessories for children attending Music on Court lessons

The MOC project provides access to the world of music and performance by gifting students from underserved populations with piano keyboards and music education to continue learning at home and record the music to be reviewed and improved at the next session and have a concert/ showcase performance at the end of the semester. The students can then keep the instrument for permanent learning and improvement. They return to MOC for the next session to advance their musical skills and knowledge and in the process improve their mental and physical well-being.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Music Resource Center: $6,000

MRC Outreach

The Music Resource Center’s (MRC’s) outreach programs bring core music and media instruction to various Cincinnati schools and community-based organizations. Equipped with state-of-the-art recording and digital audio equipment, MRC program staff enter classrooms to teach the fundamental and foundational tools of 21st Century digital recording. Outreach makes it possible for teens throughout the region to access the MRC’s programs, regardless of whether they can make it to the studio in Evanston. Students leave Outreach classes with a basic understanding of music production and their very own track.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Norwood Together: $3,000

Norwood International Art Show

Norwood Together, in partnership with Queen City Clay and Off-Pike Market, is organizing the Norwood International Art Show, September 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This juried art show is part of our Welcome Week Celebration bringing immigrant and local artists together, building strong connections and affirming the importance of welcoming and inclusive places. The Norwood International Art Show will enliven neighborhoods by bringing art to a diverse group of residents in the city and by activating Victory Park with arts experiences.

Price Hill Will: $10,000

MYCincinnati Summer Camp & Price Hill Music Festival

The MYCincinnati Summer Camp will welcome students to attend a fun, free chamber music camp from June 12-24. Playing chamber music provides students an opportunity to work with new ensembles, make new friends and share their own individuality. The summer camp will end with a celebratory performance at the eighth annual Price Hill Music Festival, a family-friendly summer event on June 24 at ARCO.

Queen City Opera: $5,000

“Undina,” world premiere reconstruction of Tchaikovsky’s lost environmental opera

In 1869, famous LGBTQ composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky composed sketches for an opera called “Undina” about a community that disrespects the sea and experiences catastrophic flooding. When he died in 1893, he left the sketches incomplete. Queen City Opera artistic director Dr. Isaac M. Selya will use other works by Tchaikovsky to devise a pastiche completion, producing an 85-minute opera about ocean conservancy. Queen City Opera will collaborate with Green Umbrella and Cincinnati Nature Conservancy to develop a pre-performance presentation on water stewardship. The world premiere of “Undina” will arrive in late summer of 2023, featuring diverse emerging artists in the orchestra and on stage.

Refresh Collective: $5,000

Remix the Classroom: In-School Hip-Hop Enrichment

This project remixes the classroom through an in-school hip-hop enrichment program. Partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools, Refresh Collective will hip-hop to teach inner-city students valuable 21st Century digital media skills. Besides lyric writing and social-emotional competencies, the program teaches digital music composition and music recording. The culturally relevant curriculum re-engages students in their academics, leading them through project-based learning where students collaborate with classmates toward creative outcomes. Students experience every step of professional music production and have full creative control of hip-hop production, inspiring countless instances of personal development and emotional breakthroughs in the classrooms.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Revolution Dance Theatre: $10,000

“I Dream of Me”

“I Dream of Me,” a Revolution Dance Theatre (RDT) original, is a collaborative project designed to take children on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. The staple of the project is a live concert experience produced by RDT, premiering at Liberty Center in West Chester, OH. The project also includes the release of a new children’s book, original soundtrack and downloadable education guide. It aims to create art that teaches kids important life lessons about self-confidence, perseverance and self-esteem.

Robert O’Neal Multicultural Art Center: $4,750

“Cinci Black History Activity Book”

The Robert O’Neal Multicultural Art Center (ROMAC) has partnered with Urbanist Media and Invest in Neighborhoods to create an educational booklet demonstrating the importance of preserving Black and African American history. Through a combination of interactive games, puzzles and artwork, the “Cinci Black History Activity Book” (CBHAB) will walk students through the history of Black Cincinnati. The book will highlight stories of historic figures and showcase buildings that still stand in their neighborhoods today. The CBHAB will be for fourth to sixth grade students, and a great deal of its content will be new to older learners as well.

*Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Southwestern Ohio Symphonic Band: $5,000

Percussion equipment upgrade and maintenance

The Southwestern Ohio Symphonic Band (SOSB) has had a deep impact in Butler County for over 50 years. In order to ensure continued impact in this region for another 50 years, the bands will purchase some major percussion equipment and either refurbish or replace existing equipment. Having the proper equipment, and not having to borrow it from other bands, will provide the freedom to take on a more diverse repertoire and attract a wider audience and membership. The percussion equipment will also be available for loan to other bands and arts organizations in the area.

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music: $10,000

CCM Prep Strings at Hays-Porter Elementary School

CCM Prep’s Hays-Porter Strings Program provides critical music education for third and fourth graders at Hays-Porter Elementary, a pre-K through 6th grade school in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood. Through this residency, students will receive group strings instruction with individual attention from professional musicians and teaching artists trained by CCM’s world-class conservatory faculty.

Supports ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action goal of “Fuel Creativity and Learning.

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio: $10,000

“Sitting with the Young Dr. King: From Protest to Policy Change”

The Black Arts Speaks Artist Collective and the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio are collaborating to design and install artwork for the League’s soon-to-open Center for Social Justice (CSJ), located in Avondale. “Sitting with the Young Dr. King” is an exterior piece depicting a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting on a park bench, reading a book. It will be installed at the entrance of the CSJ building site.

Wave Pool Gallery: $5,000

“Show of Hands”

The “Show of Hands” Puppet Festival is a raucous celebration of experimental puppetry and storytelling for all ages, abilities and experience levels. Beginning September 2023, a six-week workshop series will introduce the scope and possibilities of puppetry through hands-on learning, exploration and play. The festival culminates on October 13-14 in a boisterous and energetic giant puppet parade through Camp Washington. The parade ends at the CampSITE Sculpture Park for the “Show of Hands” Puppet Slam, a showcase of original, short-form puppet performances by workshop participants and musical collaborators.

Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati: $10,000

The Gathering of the Guilds

The Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati, in partnership with nine local craft guilds, presents the Gathering of the Guilds, a celebration of our local craft community and the opportunities in craft education available in our region. Attendees can purchase a unique, artisan-made item or learn about a local organization that will support them in their personal journey with the craft.

Westwood Works: $10,000

Westwood Second Saturday event series: “Revive” and “Feast”

Westwood Second Saturdays is a free summer event series featuring art, music, food, health/wellness resources and interactive, community-building activities for all ages and abilities. These events are a creative placemaking initiative to try new activities and celebrate what is positive and possible in Westwood. Previous Second Saturdays have brought as many as 45,000 guests from the area into Westwood. This year, the series will feature three themes: “Pride,” “Revive” (Health & Wellness-focused) and “Feast.” Each event uses art, music and dance to help people network, connect and celebrate the diversity of the community.

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