We asked our staff members and friends on Facebook and Twitter to fill out some Thanksgiving Madlibs and tell us about the arts places, people, conversations, and experiences that they are thankful for this year.
Here are a few of our favorite answers:
- Thanks to the puppeteers at Madcap for sparking a conversation about Annie Oakley and Paul Bunyan! Our kids loved the show! – Jodi Perry
I am thankful that the arts make my neighborhood safe and fun! – Jenny Kessler
Thanks to Visionaries and Voices for introducing me to the incredibly talented and wonderfully humble artist, Corttney Cooper, whose work inspires me to have faith in my own talents. – Mike Boberg
- I am thankful that the arts make my neighborhood a destination for friends to gather. – Jim Ellis
- Thanks to the Cincinnati Arts Museum for sparking a conversation about the glass bubbles in the temporary exhibition space – my son asked, “Is the sand there in case the bubbles fall?” – Lisa Wolter
- Thanks to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for introducing me to my husband, John Bromels! – Rebecca Bromels
- The arts changed my life forever, too. Thanks, Enjoy the Arts, for introducing me to my main squeeze, Jeff Syroney. – Katie Syroney
- We are thankful that the arts make our neighborhoods more fun! – Family Friendly Cincinnati Thanks to the Cincinnati Ballet for sparking a conversation about why ballet dancers always rehearse in snow boots and leg warmers. – Jared Queen
We think Frank Hilbrandt summed it up better than anyone. When asked what art experiences he was thankful for, he replied: "The list is too long. Let's just sum it up by saying life is great in this magical place called Cincinnati- where everyday brings an encounter with art!"
We hope you’ll add your own Arts Thank You to the comments below or on our Facebook page all weekend long!
Most importantly, we wanted to take a moment to thank YOU for all the ways you support the creative things happening in our region. We are so grateful for our friends, volunteers, arts partners, and neighbors. You make our community a great place to live.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at ArtsWave!
P.S. Shopping online this holiday weekend? Here’s a free and easy way to support ArtsWave!
We registered ArtsWave (Cincinnati OH) with GoodSearch.com, a company that helps non-profits like ours raise funds through the everyday online actions of our supporters. Use GoodSearch when you search the interent – they will donate a penny to ArtsWave every time you do. Use GoodShop.com when you shop online – they work with more than 2,500 major brands, have over 100,000 coupons, and donate a percentage of every purchase you make to ArtsWave.
Please join our community on GoodSearch.com and help the arts thrive in our community. Get started by clicking the “Become a Supporter” button on our profile page here!
It's hard to find a part of Cincinnati that ArtWorks has not touched. Through their summer mural painting program, the 15-year old organization has energized neighborhoods and empowered teenagers through painting memorable murals across the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.
The ArtWorks Summer Program hires youth aged 14 - 21 to work with professional artists to make innovative public art to enrich the Greater Cincinnati community. Since 1996, ArtWorks has employed more than 2500 teenagers and 450 professional artists from 70 neighborhoods throughout the region.
This past summer the program traveled to Avondale for the first time, as part of a neighborhood-wide beautification project. In conjunction with the Avondale Youth Council, the apprentice artists interviewed area residents to get feedback and inspiration for their new mural.
DAAP Alum and artist-in-residence Cedric Michael Cox led the campaign for the new art project. After input and discussion, Cox developed the art for the mural - a text-focused, brightly colored piece that spelled out not only the name of the neighborhood, but also the dreams of its residents.
“We started out by listening to the words and wishes of what they wanted, and that turned into the art,” said Cox. “What is the Avondale Youth Council about? It’s about self respect, respect for the community, keeping it clean. Avondale’s about diversity, about perseverance.”
The design is based on a map of Avondale, which includes some of the major streets that links the neighborhood together. This mural that celebrates peace, hope, victory, and pride is framed with the rich architecture of the monuments that rest on Reading Road along with images that reference home, family and recreational parks.
Eight young people from all over the region were hired for this particular project. Two girls from the Avondale youth council – Amani and Mariah – were also apprentices that worked on the mural. The various artists hailed from different backgrounds, had different viewpoints and opinions, but came together to create an incredible painting that sprung up over the course of several weeks on the side of a strip mall facing Reading Road. The experience of working together to complete a common goal created bonds between the artists, apprentices, and community that continue today.
Ultimately, says Cox, it’s the relationship between AYC and artists that is the real work of art. “This mural was much more than just anther project – it is what it is because it’s based upon the community. The work is truly accessible to others due to the process that went into creating it.”
Avondale Youth Council and ArtWorks Team - picture provided
Linking these mural projects that ArtWorks does to a community where kids are involved – be it neighborhood councils, after school programs, or other clubs – and allowing them to have a voice in the process and what they want to see creates a relationship with the community that lasts generations.
Cedric said, “These kids from the Avondale Youth Council can say years from now, ‘Hey, I helped plan this, I remember when the artist came down and showed us his design. It’s that kind of bridging that makes a difference.’The real magic is the fact that these kids can say “I helped plan this” – that’s something that lasts forever.
Though they're best known for performing at Music Hall, The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras remain committed to bringing world-class music to the entire Greater Cincinnati region, and present several community concerts throughout the area every year.
This summer, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and conductor John Morris Russell were prepared to kick off the season with a performance in Cottell Park in Deerfield Township. Sponsored by the Mason-Deerfield Arts Alliance, Deerfield Township, and ArtsWave Presents, the concert was originally scheduled for Friday, June 10th—but nature had other ideas. A spectacular lightning storm erupted just before the concert was to begin.
As Meredith Raffel, Executive Director of the Mason-Deerfield Arts Alliance, wrote in a blog post:
“As the lightning got worse, we encouraged our hundreds of guests to take cover. They picked up their picnics without complaint and headed to our waiting shuttle buses, tents, cars and the Snider House. The Pops musicians sat waiting in their bus, hoping to perform. A Fire chief kept a keen eye on his radar.
A cool vibe started to emerge. Those waiting in the various shelters had their own little community gathering. This storm encouraged strangers to start talking and finding common ground. Volunteers rallied. Trustees helped. Parks and Recreation workers went over and above the call of duty to keep everyone safe.
As the sky flashed and huge cracks of lightning hit the ground, everyone waited it out. They laughed, they talked, they came together. There was something kind of gratifying about the community closeness that was surrounding us.
In the world of arts event planning, we hope for magical results. We keep our fingers crossed for a perfect day and a happy community. In the end, that’s exactly what we got.
Not a note was played. But through that disappointment, we came to find the true meaning of partnership. It’s a puzzle of many pieces that in the end came together through compromise, understanding, agreement and best of all, new found friendships.”
The following week, the collaborators began talking: could the performance be rescheduled? The task was a huge one—the symphony’s musicians play a rigorous schedule throughout the summer with concerts at both Riverbend and the Cincinnati Opera at Music Hall. Still, everyone was committed to finding a solution. “Musicians kept saying that they hoped we could go back,” said Anne Cushing-Reid, Director of Community Engagement at the CSO. “I think it may be the first time in decades we have rescheduled such a performance.”
Meghan Berneking, Communications Assistant at CSO, thinks that the cancelled date may also have built up anticipation. “I think when we rescheduled, it gave people more time to look forward to the concert. The local arts alliance really got the word out to the Mason community through social media.”
pictures from the rescheduled concert, via YouTube
As a result, the rescheduled concert attracted a huge crowd on July 30th—over 3,500 friends, family members, and neighbors came together to hear a spectacular Pops concert in beautiful weather. “The audience covered the soccer field,” says Anne, “It was an amazing crowd.”
Together, the Mason-Deerfield Arts Alliance, Deerfield Township, the Northern Cincinnati Youth Orchestra, Whole Foods Market, and several local businesses helped make the event a community affair. Families enjoyed kettle corn and ice cream while listening to a wide variety of American music - from jazz to bluegrass to rock ‘n roll. In the green space just in front of the stage, small children were dancing, conducting, and having a great time all night long. A banner reading “Choose Deerfield Township” expressed the community’s pride.
The great success of the concert is just the beginning. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus will perform a special, sing-along concert featuring Handel’s Messiah on December 17 nearby at Christ’s Church in Mason to celebrate the holiday season.
When the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati invited performance painter David Garibaldi to be their special guest for the annual Black and Latino Achievers Gala, they knew they wanted to use this opportunity to showcase the great local arts organizations that reflect and benefit our community in all its diversity.
ArtsWave helped connect the YMCA to five organizations in our Multicultural Arts Program, a network that supports and nurtures arts organizations arising from and attractive to the range of populations in our community. The program is designed to accelerate the growth of these organizations, build their capacity, and allow them to create the kind of programming that enriches the region as a whole.
Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, Elementz, aim cincinnati, Eye of the Artist Foundation, and Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theatre all participated in the creation of painted panels for display at the YMCA event. The art was created by professional artists, including Frank Satogata, artist-in-residence at Brazee Street Studios, who were then matched with young people affiliated with each of the organizations to do the painting. Frank drew inspiration from African textiles and patterns, as well as images of African dance for the panel representing Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theatre.
Preserving and sharing traditional African culture is a key mission of Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theatre. The unique organization offers classes for young people and adults in dance, music, language, cooking, and African culture. “Many people today, when they think of Africa, think only of famine, disaster, and war,” said Jeaunita Olowe, co-founder of Bi-Okoto. “Our mission is to help people understand the vibrancy, family spirit, and life of African culture. It was great to see how Frank captured that on the canvas.” When they put out a call for participants, so many students responded that they had a hard time choosing who would help paint.
These young artists and other representatives from the groups were then invited to attend a special lecture-demonstration presented by nationally-acclaimed performance painter David Garibaldi at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts on Nov 3, followed by the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Awards gala event at the Bank of Kentucky Center on Nov 4. “Getting these young people together is always exciting,” Jeaunita smiled, “You hear them having conversations about changing the world- and you know that they are going to make a difference.”
The YMCA hopes that Garibaldi creates images through his body movement and brushes while communicating via music to an amazed audience. “We were so inspired by David’s story,” said Toni Miles, Executive Director of the Black and Latino Achievers Program, “We wanted the young people attending this event to be inspired and refreshed. We want to say to young people, ‘The world is your canvas. Paint your dreams.’”
After this week, the panels created by the artists and students will be displayed at Macy’s, a downtown art gallery, and perhaps one other location, before being returned to the arts organizations that created them. Each one represents the power of artists and community members all over our region to reach out and empower young people to become the great citizens of tomorrow.
Sometimes art comes from turning something old into something new. In the heart of one of Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati produces new plays and plays new to the region for over 25,000 people each year.
From its location on Vine Street, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati has seen the transformation of this neighborhood from a blighted and abandoned collection of buildings, to a bustling, thriving arts and business district.
ETC’s commitment to the neighborhood extends beyond traditional partnerships between restaurants, galleries and theatres. In the past two years, that commitment drove Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers to make a change to the theatre’s programming.
“It used to be we took a break in the summer, like many professional theatres,” says Meyers. “Two years ago, I was talking to the general manager at one of the new restaurants on Vine Street and he said to me, ‘I wish you were open every night. Our business goes up 70% every night you have a show.’ The fall off that he saw in traffic during the summer was so bad, he had to consider laying off staff until our season started again in September. It got me thinking that as a neighbor and a 25-year resident in this community, Ensemble has a responsibility to keep people coming down here over the summer so that they can see what we see every day—a neighborhood transformed. We have to help keep the momentum going.”
In the summer of 2001, Meyers had programmed a rock musical during the summer months, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” that had played to sold-out houses and breathed new life into the neighborhood. After long discussions with her small, dedicated staff, Meyers made the decision in 2010 to program an extra musical every summer—feel-good, fun titles that audiences love, like “Winter Wonderettes.”
While the addition to their season creates extra work, the shows also bring in new audiences for the theatre and for Over-the-Rhine. “'Wonderettes’ played to 80% capacity—and that’s all single ticket sales, not subscriptions,” notes Meyers. The show created jobs for eight full-time employees who otherwise would not have been working this summer, and fellow Gateway Merchants like Lavomatic and Senate reported increased business during the run of the show.
Tracey Lynn Conrad, Chair of the Arts and Entertainment committee for Mayor Mallory's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet, recently organized an event for Young Professionals at ETC with the Young Philanthropists' Society of Cincinnati, and was impressed with the theatre and the neighborhood. "We saw 'Next to Normal' and then walked down to the Lackman for a drink," says Tracey, "The cast and crew joined us at the bar after the show, and the place was packed. It was great to see how the district itself was working together to make a great evening for everyone." Tracey notes that the sold-out show meant that some people were on the wait list for the event. "Everyone talked about how cool the theatre was. Ensemble Theatre is a great asset to our city."
With more shops and restaurants opening each month in Over-the-Rhine, the synergy between arts and business in the neighborhood will continue to grow. “We’re proud to have been a pioneer in this community,” says Meyers, “We want everyone to celebrate its success with us.”