Greater Cincinnati receives $600K in NEA grants to support arts

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded nearly $600,000 to organizations across the region to help them create new projects or expand programs focused on enhancing local arts opportunities.

Overall, the NEA handed out more than $110 million across all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions this week as part of its second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2024. That figure includes $2,710,300 to 35 arts organizations in Ohio.

Southwest Ohio is receiving $596,800 of that figure, spread across 11 organizations in Greater Cincinnati, Dayton and Oxford. They range from large museums and small theaters to dance companies and visual arts initiatives.

Northern Kentucky didn’t receive any NEA funding during this round.

There’s a list of local recipients below. The next application deadline is Thursday, July 11.

“These projects exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities – all through the arts,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the NEA.

Uplifting communities through the arts

The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide. It aims to be a catalyst of public and private support for the arts.

Jackson, who’s been in her role with NEA since January 2022, described the arts as being central to the success of communities – “cultural vitality, health and well-being, infrastructure and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design,” she said.

For this round, there were three categories: Grants for Arts Projects, State and Regional Partnerships and Our Town.

ArtWorks received one of the 68 “Our Town” grants awarded across the United States. The category is for projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into local efforts to strengthen and engage communities. 

With its $100,000 gift, ArtWorks will partner with the Tri-State Trails and local community groups to create a pair of murals and a sculptural installation along Cincinnati’s multi-use trail network, the CROWN, in Avondale. ArtWorks will use this project to create 24 well-paying jobs for youth apprentices.

The money didn’t just go to arts-specific organizations either. For instance, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber received $50,000 to support the return of BLINK this October. The massive outdoor street festival brings murals, large-scale projection installations and light-based projects to various parts of Greater Cincinnati.

In a release, Jackson said projects such as BLINK exemplify the “creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities – all through the arts.”

The BLINK team recently announced plans to expand the event’s footprint further into Northern Kentucky through Newport.

“This NEA grant not only enables us to exhibit artwork from local and international artists, but it also honors BLINK with distinguished recognition,” said Justin Brookhart, BLINK’s executive director. “We are thrilled that the NEA acknowledges the significance of our event and its impact on Cincinnati’s cultural landscape.”

Ohio Arts Council leads the way

The NEA also has a state and regional partnership program, which awards federal funding to state and territorial arts agencies based on population and the merit of the agency’s work. To that end, the Ohio Arts Council received $1,330,500 to reinvest into arts and culture endeavors across the state.

For 15 consecutive years, the OAC has earned one of the top three largest federal NEA awards for state arts agencies.

OAC didn’t release details about how it plans to use this grant.

“The NEA’s grants at work in Ohio exemplify the strength, resiliency, and innovation that is a hallmark of our state’s nationally recognized arts and culture sector,” OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins.

Local NEA Grant Recipients

Statewide 

  • Ohio Arts Council: $1,330,500

Cincinnati 

  • ArtsWave: $150,000  
  • ArtWorks: $100,000  
  • Cincinnati Art Museum: $50,000
  • Cincinnati Opera: $20,000 
  • Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (BLINK): $50,000
  • Cincinnati Youth Choir: $20,000
  • Kennedy Heights Arts Center: $20,000
  • Know Theatre of Cincinnati: $10,000  
  • Mutual Dance Theatre and Arts Centers: $30,000 

Dayton

  • Arts and Culture Alliance of the Miami Valley: $131,800

Oxford 

  • Shakespeare Theatre Association: $15,000

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