fine arts fund

The Intern Goes to Cincy Fringe Plus What We Wore to Art

Meet the new Arts & Culture Partnership intern! Sarah Wieten started the first week of her internship by attending the Cincy Fringe Festival City Beat Kick-Off Party.

The evening started at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in Over the Rhine. This was the Fringe’s Visual Arts opening. Then we progressed to the Know Theater down the street for the Kick-off which featured local food and a local band: Eclipse.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Fringe Festival as I opened their oh-so-helpful newspaper guide (the same information is available online -- check it out ). I’m a young art lover and an Indianapolis transplant. I am used to attending the symphony, the ballet, and musical theatre.

I knew there was more art out there , but all of the alternative-ness on display in the options available for the Fringe Festival was a little breathtaking. There are options regarding one –man(or woman) theatre, high velocity dance(?), a production about gym class(in a gym), film, pop-culture, poetry, folk puppetry, improv, interactive film noir,aerial art… the list is seemingly endless.

But as much as this environment felt like a brand new experience for me, the evening’s events and the planned performances for the Fringe are familiar too.

All of these personal and occasionally in-your-face productions (the Fringe, the ballet, the orchestra, etc) are not just something we “go to”, a way to spend an evening, but something we experience, which changes us and our perceptions.

The Fringe, like all other art, is active, not passive.

These performances make it possible for us to transcend our everyday way of thinking and experiencing the world and be enriched by something which we carry with us through not just the hour or the day, but through the years. Regardless of the form, art brings a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the human condition.


What We Wore to Art – Cincy Fringe Festival
Your blogger (Margy, this time) takes photos at the First Night of Fringe and at the body language II: phys. ed show on the second night. Apparently, we wore our dancing shoes.

Our First Lady: What She Wore and What She Said

The First Lady opens a new museum and talks about why the arts are important to all of us.

What She Said About Art



Our future as an innovative country depends on ensuring that everyone has access to the arts and to cultural opportunity. Nearly 6 million people make their living in the non-profit arts industry, and arts and cultural activities contribute more than $160 billion to our economy every year. And trust me, I tried to do my part to add to that number.

The President included an additional $50 million in funding to the NEA in the stimulus package to preserve jobs in state arts agencies and regional arts organizations in order to keep them up and running during the economic downturn.

But the intersection of creativity and commerce is about more than economic stimulus, it's also about who we are as people. The President and I want to ensure that all children have access to great works of art at museums like the one here. We want them to have access to great poets and musicians in theaters around the country, to arts education in their schools and community workshops.

We want all children who believe in their talent to see a way to create a future for themselves in the arts community, be it as a hobby or as a profession.

The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.




Michelle Obama, May 18, 2009

What She Wore to Art



Comments (2)

05/21/2009 7:07 PM | Ella Jean Davis | As a child from an underpriviledged situation, music was a source of great solace and pleasure for me from a very early age. It exposed me to persons who were in control of their own lives and positive energy. I am most grateful to all of the teachers, choir leaders, and church persons who gave this priceless gift to me when despair was my daily task. I believe in the restorative and healing power of music and the transcending effect it can have on one's life. An english teacher bribed me to read big books and the Art Museum was an overwhelming experience for me as well as the free Friday morning Symphony concerts. I think it is a crime to rob our youth today of these great resources of food for our spirit.

05/21/2009 1:26 PM | Dick Waller | We are in for a good ride. The next eight years (I'm confident the Obama Family will be elected again in four years) will be a time that we can work to support their leadership in making the arts an integral part of our society. They are aware of how the arts enrich the lives of all that are fortunate enough to have been introduced to and nurtured by the arts. Thanks to Margy for keeping us aware of important events of this kind.



Photos and Video - A Surreal Dance Explosion!

May 15, 2009 - a surreal night at the Cincinnati Art Museum, celebrating the end of the special exhibit. What we wore...



The evening included a surprise -- dancers from Rythym & Motion, presented by Cincinnati Ballet.


The surprise dancing reminded me of this.

Share the joy!



Comments (1)

05/22/2009 9:28 AM | victoria morgan | OH hopeful and unifying, so becoming a team and having fun together, so confident, encouraging & so sharing, Everybody dances! The dance of life - it's contagious!


Molly O'Toole Blogging Diane Ragsdale

In early May, the Arts & Culture Partnership of the Fine Arts Fund and the Graduate Program in Arts Administration at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music hosted a community conversation with Diane Ragsdale of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as part of the annual Joan Cochran (Rieveschl) Lecture Series: Creative Visionaries. We titled the talk Sharing Our Art in a Changing Community.

Watch this space for a transcript of Diane's talk and the discussion with the panel - Pete Blackshaw and Evans Mirageas. We'll also post video from the event.

I invited Molly O'Toole--Director of Communications & Community Engagement at our Contemporary Arts Center--to blog about the event on the spot. She borrowed my beloved MacBook and here's what she wrote. 

- Margy

Molly’s Live Blog


Today is Diane Ragsdale’s lecture. I’ve been looking forward to the discussion. She is speaking about the “fundamental culture shift” that is occurring and the barriers our beloved arts institutions face in navigating this new frontier.

After navigating a new frontier of my own (finding the best place to park for UC’s TUC theater), I was handed this computer to commence “live blogging.” I get a sinking feeling that blogging while listening might be a little too complex for me today. I momentarily entertain the idea of blogging without listening, but ditch it due to the return of good judgment. “Listen, then blog” I tell myself, “rotate out, you won’t miss too much.” Unfortunately that little internal discussion just prevented me from either listening or blogging, so I’m taking my seat, choosing prudence and pausing to listen now.

"Not having time [for art] is the equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me”."

That’s funny. And probably true. Reminds me of a discussion I had a few weeks ago about parking downtown. While lamenting to someone that this is an omni-present complaint, he tells me it’s just a convenient excuse people use when they really don’t want to come to the museum. Diane is saying the exact same thing about those who say they don’t have time. Parking must not be as viable an excuse where she lives.

But Diane is basically picking up a conversation I must have had umpteen times this year. How interesting that we are all talking about this right now! She is talking about a radical change in perspective.

She’s referencing Saatchi & Saatchi “winning the love and respect of consumers,” she’s talking about being bold, challenging ourselves, changing our views on institutional roles and relationships, taking cues from megachurches who organically subdivide into small social networks (cellular).

She’s talking about the need to focus on non-performance spaces as much as performance spaces (turning lobbies into living rooms), to radically take on the artistic hierarchy that pervades so many sacred halls (why is Bach better than Bjork, and why would Bjork be better than Uncle Barry, etc.), and to better engage our visitors (bringing them into the fold, into the conversation).

Her points are resonating with me, as I’m sure they are with many here. As I said, this is becoming an exciting but familiar conversation. These are the notions that have been preached loud and proud by my wonderful like-minded colleagues at the Brooklyn Museum, Nina Simon of Museum 2.0 fame, my Museums and the Web cohorts, and others. In this industry, conventional wisdom says we are still the minority but luckily it hasn’t felt that way lately. And the great turn out at this particular lecture proves that point.

I’m settling in. This will be a comfy hour, listening to a familiar voice speak about things I’m already on board with, things I’ve been wrestling with and things I’m desperately trying to figure out. It’s nice to sit back and listen to someone else do the gymnastics.

"Relevance cannot be relegated to the pr department. No amount of marketing can help if the programs are not perceived as relevant."



Did she just say that? Yes. This woman is sharp.

"When you make bold moves [regarding programming, membership, etc.] you have to be consistent, be focused…and be willing to lose in order to gain."

And she and I are simpatico! I’m not kidding, we were just having this discussion in my office. Can one be sharp-by-association?

In my office though the discussion was a bit more raw. We used terminology such as “pain tolerance” and “having the appetite to stay the course.” If you are going to embark upon making bold moves, you really need to be honest with yourself as an institution. Wanting it is one thing, doing what it takes to get that is another.

The lecture is over and the panel is discussing various points from the lecture. Diane is talking about an Amazon-style recommendation system for arts organizations. I like this subject, it has come up a few times recently and since returning from a conference last month a few of us have been exploring this idea. So I’m happy to hear how excited they are, and I want to listen.

"…with technology where it is there are no barriers anymore really, no excuses, no reasons that this couldn’t happen."


Ouch, I’m feeling a lot less comfortable.

I am really surprised to hear them say this.

But it’s actually a great topic for discussion. I promptly raised my hand, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to ask my question (the person ahead of me was tapped as the last one) -- so I’ll just pose it here.

If the end result is to be able to deliver personalized suggestions to a patron or visitor, are will and desire the only things we need to make this happen?

What of the need for universal meta data standards, cooperation, etc.? Tackling this on a small scale, that might be feasible but then all the participating institutions would need to be able to implement it. And if that could be paid for and maintained, there’s still a bigger issue on the other end: data collection. Museums are notoriously ill-equipped for this (I believe performing arts institutions might be a different story). We do not have the infrastructure to capture information. It’s sad but true. And to make matters worse, infrastructure is notoriously difficult to get grants for. Perhaps I’m missing an obvious solution. I’d love to hear if anyone has insight on this.

But what really makes me happy is to see so many of my colleagues here. This was a great talk, and clearly we are all interested in this subject. And at least we find ourselves in the same chapter if not quite on the same page yet.

These are the types of gatherings that stimulate much needed conversation, and plant the seeds for meaningful collaboration. Speaking of, I’m going to shut down now—there is someone I want to talk to about creating a Shazam app for the arts!


Look at this photo! Mary Wants Some Change!


Our Mary is making a final request for your change -- and dollars too! You can give now by clicking here.


Comments (1)

04/28/2009 4:01 PM | Dick Waller | This awesome picture made me want to donate. And it should make you want to do the same.