Cincinnati Free Arts - October-December 2014

The only thing better than the amazing arts in our region is when those arts opportunities are FREE. Check out some of the ways to experience the arts at little to no cost this fall/winter. Join the conversation about amazing arts experiences by using #CincyFallArts until the end of November and #CincyWinterArts starting in December. 



October 4 is the Cincinnati Jazz & BBQ Festival in Madisonville. Enjoy amazing music, art booths, and incredibly tasty food. ArtsWave supports this event as part of our partnership with LISC Place Matters Neighborhoods.

Opera on tour -  The Cincinnati Opera is touring with Pirates of Penzance, including a free performance at Linden Grove Cemetery on October 11. Part of our partnership with LISC Place Matters Neighborhoods, Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington

The Constella Festival has a free music workshop for ages 8 to 88 on October 15 at 6pm. Broaden your musical horizons and challenge your creative limits in a fun and engaging manner. Non-musicians are welcome to participate as audience members. Register here.

Exhale Dance Tribe presents a preview of their annual Halloween show, Dead Can Dance, at Washington Park on October 24.

Photography is everywhere in October. FOTOFOCUS BIENNIAL 2014 is a month-long celebration of photography and lens-based art. Though the events are not free, many of the exhibitions are free to view! Join ArtsWave and ArtWorks in our lobby on October 10 from 5-8pm for the opening reception of the J.Miles Wolf exhibit. The exhibit will be free and available for view from October 1-31.

The Off the Hill series from Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is free all across the region. October's show is Roses & Throns (A Tale of Beauty & the Beast)Find out when this show will be in your neighborhood. 

Washington Park plays host to tons of arts events, including SCPA in the Park on Fridays in October (at noon), Where the Wild Things Play on Sundays (in conjunction with Cincinnati Art Museum), and Caroling in the Park starting in November.

Fountain Square has free music on Fridays with Rocktober on the Square. An after-work music happy hour is a great way to end the work week! 



Volunteer for free CSO tickets! Log 8 hours of volunteer activity before November 7 to receive free tickets to One City, One Symphony with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on November 14-16Learn how to turn volunteer hours into free tickets.

Art at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center "The Urban Landscape Six Artists - Six Views”  Six contemporary painters explore the urban landscape and interstitial spaces found within. Opening Reception - Friday November 14 6pm-9pm or see the exhibit from November 14 – December 5, 2014

New American opera with Opera Fusion: New Works. A free public reading of Great Scott will be held on November 25 at 7:30pm at Memorial Hall.  

Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati are joining together to spread holiday cheer across the Tristate with a number of special character appearances beginning Nov. 15.  The Character Crew will make appearances at the following holiday attractions: 

  • Saturday, Nov. 15 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.): Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market, Duke Energy Convention Center
  • Friday, Nov. 21 (5 to 9 p.m.): Festival of Lights Members’ Preview, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
  • Saturday, Nov. 22 (1 to 2 p.m.): Community Appreciation Day, Joseph-Beth Booksellers Cincinnati
  • Saturday, Nov. 22 (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.): Balluminaria, Eden Park’s Mirror Lake
  • Friday, Nov. 28 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.): Tree Lighting and Santa Arrival, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
  • Saturday, Nov. 29 (2 to 4 p.m.): Crafty Supermarket, Music Hall
  • Saturday, Nov. 29 (5:30 to 7 p.m.): Macy’s Downtown Dazzle, Fountain Square
  • Sunday, Nov. 30 (12 to 2 p.m.): Winterfair, Northern Kentucky Convention Center




The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati ArtReach program will present a touring show of The Night Before Christmas at a variety of venues in December. Check out the full schedule to find a performance in your neighborhood. 




Discover more amazing free things to do at, including visual arts, performing arts, music, literary events, and culture. 

Love museums? You can always visit the Taft Museum of Art for free on Sundays (thanks to Western & Southern Financial Group). Want something more modern? The Contemporary Arts Center has free admission (thanks to Macy's) on Monday nights from 5-9pm.  The Cincinnati Art Museum has free admission, as well as numerous free events (especially on weekends), like daily tours, Art 360, Art After Dark, Family First Saturdays, and more! 

Downtown has lots of great opportunities for free art. Check out the Weston Art Gallery, located next to the Aronoff Center; discover your new favorite ArtWorks murals, take a glance at the YWCA gallery, or see some free art at the public library

Looking for something a little more risque'? Manifest Gallery shows some of the latest cutting-edge art, and is always free to visit! 

Christ Church Cathedral (in downtown Cincinnati) has Music Live at Lunch every Tuesday! Free if you bring your own lunch, or just $5 to buy lunch at the cathedral.

Wednesdays mean free live theatre at Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Read more about the radical and revolutionary "Welcome Experiment."

Want more info on free art? Follow ArtsWave on Facebook and Twitter to see more updates on free arts events. 

Do you have a free arts event to add to this list? Email our Manager, Digital Communications Rebecca Calkin to get your event added.

The Ripple Effect: Partners in Action: You

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Cincy BoychoirWith increased emphasis on measuring student growth on test outcomes in content areas such as reading and mathematics, district report cards and accountability, there is a potential for lack of balance in the curriculum and a danger that arts education will lose its status as an equal component in the education of all students. In the spring of 2013, ArtsWave began discussions with the Greater Cincinnati Alliance for Arts Education and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to develop a process to review and assess the status of arts education programs and opportunities in the community and schools in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport utilizing the Kennedy Center’s Community Audit for Arts Education.  The ultimate goal was to provide objective data that could assist ArtsWave, school administrators and boards of education, and regional community arts organizations in making evidence-based decisions that reflect the best possible opportunities for students in Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport through arts education.

Among the findings of this recent Community Audit, the importance of involved parents, teachers, principals and superintendents in strong school programs was underscored:

In school districts with strong arts education programs, the community – parents, families, artists, arts organizations, businesses, local civic and cultural leaders – is actively engaged in the development of arts policies and instructional programs of the school district.

School principals who collectively support the policy of arts education for all students often are instrumental in the policy’s successful building level and district-wide implementation.

Superintendents who regularly articulate a vision for arts education are critically important to its successful implementation and stability. 

Leadership plays an irreplaceable role in leveraging the power of the arts to make students and schools more successful. Your leadership matters, as does your voice in speaking up for the continuation of arts programming. We thank all our partners in this journey to show the intersections between arts education and student success.

Sign up for The Ripple Effect semi-monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on the impact of the arts and ArtsWave on Greater Cincinnati.

CincyDances Join the Fun

The Ripple Effect: Strategy in Action: Arts Education

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Young People LearningArts education can take many forms – from learning the skills related to a specific art form to using the arts as a vehicle for learning other subjects including reading, math, science, and history. This practice of bringing arts specialists into the classroom to fuel learning in core subjects is called arts integration.

From 2010 to 2013, ArtsWave conducted a pilot program within Cincinnati Public Schools to study the effect of arts integration programs on student achievement.  We conducted this study over three consecutive years in Grades 3-5 within six of CPS’s 42 elementary schools: Academy of World Languages, Bond Hill, Frederick Douglas, Hartwell, Hoffman Parham, and Roselawn Condon schools. In each school, we connected classroom teachers with arts organizations that assisted with six-week long arts integration efforts focused on English Language Arts (Reading) and Mathematics. Students used music, dance, theater, and visual art to learn everything from science to literature. Partner arts organizations included The Children’s Theatre, Contemporary Arts Center, Dramakinetics, Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theater, Cincinnati Ballet, and many more. 

We tracked individual students from one grade to the next, and also benchmarked them against peer students in schools that did not participate in the arts integration program. 

Results were clear: students that participated in the arts integration program scored higher in reading and math proficiency than students in the control group.  In addition, individual students in the program showed a dramatic increase in their math proficiency scores year-over-year.

These results are consistent with the findings of other research studies across the nation, including exciting new research just released by Portland, Oregon’s The Right Brain Initiative which aspires to make arts education accessible to every K-8 child in that tri-county region. 

ArtsWave’s study of the benefits of arts integration was conducted in only a few Cincinnati schools.  We know we need to learn more about the general state of arts offerings in the region’s entire educational system, and to begin to assess where there are opportunities for us to make targeted investments. To inform these investments, we have just concluded a Community Audit for Arts Education using a model from the Kennedy Center. We assessed what educators and parents feel is working and not working in the area of arts education in Cincinnati, Newport and Covington schools. Using these findings, in the coming months we will be working to develop a strategy for systematically growing Greater Cincinnati’s arts education offerings.

Sign up for The Ripple Effect semi-monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on the impact of the arts and ArtsWave on Greater Cincinnati.

Arts Education

The Ripple Effect: Making An Impact - CincyDance!

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While not every child aspires to be a professional dancer, every child can reap the benefits inherent in dance – discipline, self-expression, problem solving, focus, physical fitness, and team building. In 2013, the Cincinnati Ballet taught these critical life skills to 1,061 third graders in 21 Cincinnati Public Schools through its CincyDance! Program, and will reach 1,300 kids in 31 schools this school year.

CincyDance! incorporates free, in-school dance classes taught by professional dance faculty over a six-week period in partnering schools. 75% of participating teachers observed improvements in student attention and engagement in academic classes, self-discipline, and work ethic. “Ballet is an art form but it’s also a vehicle to awaken a connection between body and mind. A student participating in ballet class is encouraged to stand with confidence - shoulders back and down, head up, eyes engaging with their teachers. Whether or not the student becomes the next Baryshnikov isn’t really the point. The goal of the program is to help youth enter each day with pride in themselves, standing tall, and ready to take on challenges.” – Julie Sunderland, Director of Education and Outreach at Cincinnati Ballet.

Several students from each school are then invited to attend classes, tuition-free, at Cincinnati Ballet studios for the next five months. Additionally, a small group of talented and interested students are awarded lifetime, full-tuition scholarships to train at Cincinnati Ballet’s Academy. Milton, age 15 (dancing with CincyDance! for seven years), says, “It’s a place where I can come when I’m feeling mad, I can come here and dance it out, or when I’m super energized, I can dance that out.”

ArtsWave is proud to support the work of Cincinnati Ballet in making an impact on the community.

Sign up for The Ripple Effect semi-monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on the impact of the arts and ArtsWave on Greater Cincinnati.

The Ripple Effect: CEO Currents - Arts Make Kids Succeed

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Diverse Cultures 

Long before I ever took a ballet class as a little girl, I learned Mexican Folklorico dance as part of an afterschool program in a Los Angeles public school. Separately, my father’s work introduced us to immigrants from Korea, the Philippines, Burma and Thailand – and their native dances. His passion for Hawaii as the ultimate vacation destination meant that I had hula lessons alongside swimming and surfing lessons.  And somewhere along the line I fell in love with Irish step dancing and of course, the jazz dance of touring Broadway musicals.

My personal arts education did more than keep me on my toes: it provided a window into other cultures and traditions. It taught me about different definitions of beauty and the importance of synchronization, teamwork, endurance and execution. All of these things helped prepare me for my future.

Now, as a parent, naturally I think about the world our kids will inherit. We all want our children to live in a society that values inclusion and diversity.  We want our kids to be tolerant of differences and emotionally expressive. We want them to be active, productive citizens with the skills they need to pursue their passions in the 21st century.

Numerous studies have shown the connection between arts education and academic achievement, social and emotional development, critical and creative thinking skills, and interpersonal skills. Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts, reminds us: "Not every young person will go on to be an artist. But they will all be better students, employees, and citizens if they indeed have opportunities to embrace their creativity." And yet, arts education programs are always among the first things to be eliminated from school offerings due to budget constraints.

September shines a national spotlight on the importance of arts education, and one of my goals at ArtsWave is to leverage even further the programs of our arts partners and teaching artists to give ever-more kids in our region the benefits of arts experiences. From conducting research in the region’s largest school districts to creating growth strategies, from investing in the programs of arts organizations to supporting the “One Stop Arts Shop” directory of local Arts Ed options, ArtsWave believes that increasing access to arts education is important for all of our kids and for Cincinnati’s bright future.

Sign up for The Ripple Effect semi-monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date on the impact of the arts and ArtsWave on Greater Cincinnati.

Madcap 2013