A Tribute as Karen completes two amazing years as ArtsWave’s Board Chair
A relative newcomer to Cincinnati, Karen Bowman joined the ArtsWave board in 2007, establishing herself as a key strategist at a time when a decades-old institution was at a critical juncture for transformational change.
During the recession, ArtsWave, like other community campaigns, lost traction; it was a wake-up call for fresh thinking. ArtsWave developed a new sensitivity to its corporate donors’ focus on the demonstration of community impact -- health, social services, and education were light years ahead of the arts in this arena. In 2010, ArtsWave changed its name from the Fine Arts Fund to reflect a new focus on engaging community through the arts. In 2011, Karen led a team of stakeholders that developed a plan to measure the impact of the arts on community priorities, in order to expand and deepen support for the arts and inform ArtsWave’s distribution of dollars.
As head of the Measuring the Impact Team, Karen established a learning path for ArtsWave to transition from a sixty-year cycle of historical grantmaking (based on organization size and steady incremental growth) to developing a methodical process for measuring the contribution of individual arts organizations on two relevant issues - creating economic vitality and a more connected community. The Team created a program theory and related logic model that demonstrated the relationship between ArtsWave’s grantmaking process and key community impacts. This “pathway to impact” would eventually form the primary basis for a new grantmaking framework, begun in 2012, and it is also the basis for our evolving initiatives to drive ever-greater impact through strategic investments in arts organizations and other community partners.
Dramatic change rarely comes without tension, and upon assuming the board chairmanship in 2012, Karen conducted many conversations with both the challengers and enthusiasts for this movement; her personal investments of time, tenacity and financial resources to this effort have been incalculable and invaluable. Karen, in particular, helped to engage key arts leaders and board members in thinking about this change.
Karen’s articulation of impact has paved the way for the arts to become a more visible member in the integrated conversations that are taking place throughout the region - Agenda 360, Vision 2015 and STRIVE, for example. Karen’s connections – from United Way to the Chamber - have ensured that the arts have a “seat at the table” as an indispensable, sharable community asset. These links have been parlayed to grantmaking partnerships with Interact for Health and LISC in alignment with broader community goals. The arts are moving from a stance centered solely on the needs of their patrons, to one focused on the impact of the arts on the interests of the community.
Karen, thank you for being a great leader in a time of great change. You have truly made an impact on ArtsWave and our region for years to come.
One of the ways that ArtsWave says “thanks” to our leadership donors is with ArtsBreak, a quarterly series of behind-the-scenes presentations by Greater Cincinnati arts leaders.
This week’s ArtsBreak featured Cameron Kitchin, new director of the Cincinnati Art Museum. 80 donors gathered at the museum for lunch and a conversation facilitated by ArtsWave CEO Alecia Kintner. We learned what intrigued Cameron most about the opportunity to join the Cincinnati cultural community, and why he thinks that “museums matter” in the 21st century.
“Cincinnati Art Museum is a public service institution,” he said. “For our 133-year history, we have always been about serving the community. Our location was even planned in service to community, since at the time of our founding, it was accessible from the streetcar. My vision for the future is all about increasing access to the museum, because art gives people a common touchstone to begin a conversation.”
Cameron isn’t the first newly arrived arts leader to remind us that there is something special about this community. At the very first ArtsBreak in November 2012, new CSO Maestro Louis Langrée described his delight at discovering the wonderful people and places of Cincinnati, including the Over the Rhine neighborhood. “Growing up in Alsace, France, we could look ‘over the Rhine’ to Germany. I feel right at home already in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati,” he said.
Blake Robison, artistic director of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, shared his enthusiasm for Cincinnati’s theater community with an ArtsBreak audience when he arrived in the fall of 2012, and gave us an inside track on his strategy to engage new faces with a focus on families and plays by diverse playwrights.
Kate Kennedy, Director of Individual and Leadership Giving, says ArtsBreak is all about showing donors what a difference their support makes. “We were excited to launch the ArtsBreak series as a forum for ArtsWave leadership supporters to experience their ArtsWave gift in action,” she explained. “Since 2012, we have had the opportunity to feature a wonderful variety of fascinating arts leaders, advocates, and practicing artists.”
Leadership donors contribute $1,500 or more to ArtsWave's annual community campaign. Young Professional leaders at the $500 level are invited to select ArtsBreak events. Donors can also step up to the leadership level incrementally over three years, starting with a gift of $500, and begin receiving the benefits of leadership giving immediately. ArtsBreak is made possible through the generosity of the Dornette Foundation.
The next ArtsBreak will be in January, featuring 2015 Campaign Chair Tom Williams. Contact Kate Kennedy at email@example.com to learn more about how you can participate.
‘Tis the season to count our blessings, and ArtsWave has begun taking inventory. Here’s Part One of our Gratitude List:
Thank You To…
…The 70 committed leaders on our Board of Directors, who are champions for sustaining the impact of the arts throughout our community;
…34 business leaders on the 2015 ArtsWave Campaign Cabinet, chaired by the unmatchable, unstoppable Tom Williams;
…1 amazing outgoing board chair, Karen Bowman, whose zest for strategy is balanced by finesse at compromise;
…1 amazing new board chair, Lisa Sauer, who embodies smarts, strength and serenity;
…the 40,076 donors to the 2014 ArtsWave Campaign, chaired by the inspirational Melanie Healey;
…1,034 individuals who support the campaign with leadership gifts;
…and the more than 100 arts organizations in Greater Cincinnati that make this a more vibrant and connected region all year long.
That’s 41,316 reasons to celebrate!
Which arts experience or champion are YOU grateful for? Tell us at #ArtsRipple. And, look for Part Two of ArtsWave’s Gratitude List in the next issue of The Ripple Effect.
Have you overheard Shakespeare at the airport? Seen the Ballet at the ballpark? Enjoyed a symphony under the stars? You may not have known it, but that’s ArtsWave in Action.
While many arts organizations make their primary home in Cincinnati’s downtown core, they are also active with programming in communities throughout the region. ArtsWave helps facilitate this through a program called “ArtsWave Presents”. In the last year alone, with special funds from the Schmidlapp Trusts and CVG, we brought arts programming from established arts groups into nearly 20 community venue partners.
ArtsWave developed a “menu” of diverse arts experiences in cooperation with its arts partners. Among others, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Ballet, Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, May Festival, and Cincinnati Opera collaborated with ArtsWave to present performances and activities at community arts centers, recreation centers, libraries, and college campuses. Locations included Batavia, Loveland, Middletown, Fairfield, Springfield Township, Milford, Lebanon, Oxford, Warren County and across Northern Kentucky.
As one example, the Greater Milford Area Historical Society (GMAHS) hosted a performance of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on August 3, 2014, at the Miami Township Community Park Pavilion for 1,800 attendees. These included multi-generational families, couples, groups sharing picnics, and youth cast members from the Milford Theatre Guild. The performance attracted residents from even further away – Brown County, for example – who shared they had no access to this type of programming close to home. “During the evening we had many folks stop by and actually say ‘Thank You’ for bringing this special event to Clermont County,” said Donna Amann, GMAHS Administrator.
By providing opportunities for people to experience the arts where they live, ArtsWave helps to ensure that the benefits of the arts reach everyone in our community. Many ArtsWave Presents programs are free or low-cost for audience members, and designed to appeal to people of all ages. ArtsWave works with its partners to select venues that are well-established as community gathering places, helping to build their brand and reputation. Through shared arts experiences, neighbors build stronger relationships with each and community pride.
ArtsWave Presents also programmed monthly performances at CVG and at our annual Art in the Park Day at Great American Ball Park. These pop-up performances give visitors and residents a taste of our amazing arts scene and our region’s creative, innovative spirit.
Have you enjoyed an ArtsWave Presents event? Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsWavePresents
I had two early pivotal impressions of Cincinnati as I was recruited here from the Northeast. The first was attending a concert by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. I arrived at Music Hall alone, finding my way in a sea of strangers. As soon as I stepped inside the grand foyer and then the majestic Springer Auditorium, however, I felt at ease – not because I recognized anyone, but from a sense of awe: if this symbolized what Cincinnatians stood for and valued, then I would be proud to join this community. That was before the Symphony ever played a note.
The second experience was relocating my family here from Connecticut. We pulled into Cincy on New Year’s Eve. What to do when you are living in a hotel room with kids on a holiday weekend in an unfamiliar city? We went to the Cincinnati Museum Center, of course! Eight hours later we were still happy, tired and hooked on a good thing. We signed on as grateful members. We knew we’d be back, often.
Mine are just two among thousands of personal memories that have been made inside Music Hall and Union Terminal.
Music Hall and Union Terminal are hubs of very necessary educational and cultural activity – activity that results in a ripple effect of benefits for the entire community. As cultural hubs and as iconic buildings, these places help businesses attract and retain top talent; differentiate our region for tourists and new companies; fuel the learning and curiosity needed for a 21st century workforce; and improve our quality of life.
In July, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put Music Hall and Union Terminal on their list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Buildings. They did this to raise awareness about the threats facing our “icons”, citing them as among our nation’s greatest treasures.
These buildings may symbolize much about our past, but they are also a key to Greater Cincinnati’s bright future. Saving both Music Hall and Union Terminal as a legacy for the future is a commitment made by the Cultural Facilities Task Force, a group that has devoted hundreds of hours over the past year to creating a solid renovation plan.
Next week, we have the chance to show that we understand the significance of our cultural heritage and its promise to next generations. We have the opportunity to make our voice heard on Issue 8, a measure that proposes a sales tax levy that would fund the critically needed repairs of Union Terminal. If this public funding is approved by voters, $40 million in private philanthropic commitments that has already been pledged can be directed to restoration of Music Hall. Greater Cincinnati has had great success leveraging these types of public/private partnerships, in which everyone plays an important part in fueling growth in our community.
It’s a jigsaw puzzle, and every piece must fall into place to create the finished picture: a thriving Greater Cincinnati region with arts and cultural opportunities for all.
Thanks for playing your part by exercising your right to vote on this critical issue.