History of ArtsWave

ArtsWave began as the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts, founded in 1927 by Mr. & Mrs. Charles P. and Anna Sinton Taft. The Tafts believed that Cincinnati could truly distinguish itself through a deep investment in its cultural assets, and the original Institute’s mission was “to further the musical and artistic education and culture for the people of Cincinnati.” Included was a $1 million endowment for the arts, contingent on raising $2.5 million in matching funds from the community. The people of Cincinnati responded and the endowment was created. 

In 1949, in response to the financial difficulties of some local arts organizations, and the continued erosion of endowment funds, the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts established the Fine Arts Fund as an annual, community-wide campaign in support of four local arts organizations:

  • Cincinnati Art Museum
  • Cincinnati Opera
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • Taft Museum

This initial campaign surpassed its fundraising goals, helping to establish the Fund’s core mission: that of ensuring the financial health of its four constituent organizations.

Due largely to an increased commitment of support from the corporate community, in 1978 the Fund was able to expand its support of Cincinnati’s artistic community in two ways. Firstly, four additional organizations were invited to join the Fund:

  • Cincinnati Ballet
  • Contemporary Arts Center
  • Playhouse in the Park
  • May Festival

Secondly, the Fund established a “Projects Pool” to provide special one-time grants to other, smaller arts organizations in the region.

In 1995, the Fund again increased its support of Cincinnati’s emerging and established smaller arts organizations. The Arts Services Office was established to assist in fostering relationships within the Cincinnati arts community through programs and resources for boards and volunteers. The Arts Services Office also operates several nationally-recognized programs, including a volunteer pool to match volunteers with arts clients, and training and tools for board members.

For 86 years, the Fine Arts Fund provided vital support for the greater Cincinnati arts community. During this period, the Fund evolved several times in response to changing economic and cultural conditions. Currently, the organization is in the process of transforming its structure, goals, strategies, and name to meet a new mission: to be a leader and regional catalyst that works to advance the vitality and vibrancy of Greater Cincinnati by mobilizing the creative energy of the entire community. The Fine Arts Fund — now known as ArtsWave — works toward these larger goals.