Donors give record $12.5M during annual ArtsWave fundraiser

ArtsWave set out this February with lofty goals for its 2024 community fundraising campaign. At the time, the grant-making organization didn’t provide any specific dollar amounts but emphasized a desire to surpass the record-setting $12.4 million it raked in 2017.

On Thursday, ArtsWave CEO Alecia Kintner and the campaign co-chairs joined local arts, business and philanthropic leaders at the Taft Museum of Art to announce that thanks to unmatched community support, the fundraiser had surpassed its goal, securing $12.5 million over the past three-plus months.

“With these strong results, the region can expect the arts to continue generating strong economic and social vibrancy which is vitally important as we all work to attract and retain a top workforce,” said campaign co-chair Jon Moeller, chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble. His co-chair was his wife, Lisa Sauer, a retired P&G executive and also an ArtsWave life trustee.

Co-chairs Jon Moeller and Lisa Sauer alongside ArtsWave CEO Alecia Kintner

Sauer shared the results of what she called a successful “Leaders for Cincy Arts” initiative for new and increased gifts of more than $5,000, noting ArtsWave had collected $2 million from 160 business executives and community leaders to date.

“The response in our business community to our call for support was overwhelming, showing that these leaders recognize that our economic future and our artistic future are closely linked,” Sauer added.

More than 22,000 donors

This year’s campaigns marks the continuation of ArtsWave’s nearly 100-year commitment to supporting local creatives and cultural organizations through community-driven fundraising.

During Thursday’s two-hour celebration, Kintner thanked the two campaign co-chairs as well as their cabinet for their record-setting performance.

In total, more than 22,000 individual donors and more than 400 companies and foundations have participated in the 2024 campaign so far.

As is the case every year, the total dollar amount given by ArtsWave is an estimate that includes contributions already received and reported, as well as projections for workplace campaigns that are ongoing through the summer.

“Jon and Lisa have set a new standard for community fundraising,” Kintner said. “On behalf of the board of trustees, I can’t thank them enough for the work they’ve done and the direction they’ve set for us as we count down to our 2027 centennial anniversary.”

Decades of support the arts, Cincinnati

Since its founding in 1927, the organization now known as ArtsWave has grown to become the primary funder of the region’s arts scene, supporting more than 150 arts organizations, projects and artists every year. 

Projects supported by ArtsWave fundraising range from the biggest of the big, such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Art Museum, to individual artists and smaller organizations like Bi-Okoto, a professional African dance company.

They don’t just inject creativity into the community, but they also benefit the region financially by drawing visitors and making the region a more attractive place for businesses and their employers.

In January, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber released a report indicating the arts had a $1.6 billion local economic impact between 2019 to 2023 as a result of both tourism and job creation efforts.

The Chamber – which operates BLINK – didn’t include the art and light festival in its economic impact calculations for this study. ArtsWave is a primary funder – or “illuminator” – of that multi-day event, which attracted more than 2 million people to downtown Cincinnati and Covington in 2022.

BLINK returns Oct. 17-20.

Campaign chairs Jon Moeller and Lisa Sauer acknowledging donors

No slowing down

Through its annual fundraising campaign, ArtsWave is able to make grants for performances, exhibitions, public art projects, arts education programs, festivals and events like BLINK that help build Cincinnati’s national reputation and enliven neighborhoods.

Values can range from a few thousand dollars for a one-off program or event to millions for large institutions with considerable community impact and business needs.

To do so, ArtsWave relies on new and returning donors every year. The organization hosts a large annual community fundraiser, but it accepts financial contributions all year-round.

Thursday night was a celebration but also a kickoff in many ways. Kintner used the event at The Taft to outline details of the upcoming 2025 ArtsWave Campaign. The chair is former ArtsWave board member Mel Gravely, executive chair of TriVersity Construction.

Kintner said she knows Gravely will “continue this upward trajectory and build on the solid foundation established by Jon and Lisa” next year. But she also stressed that the 2024 efforts aren’t over just yet.

“For those businesses and individuals who are still finishing their campaigns, please know that your gifts are essential,” Kintner continued. “We need everyone’s support to create stronger arts for a stronger region.”


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