Guest post: Pones, In(c) Public starts something.

Kim Popa is a founder of Pones, Inc.

Pones Inc. is a collective of ARTISTS AS ACTIVISTS who encourage PARTICIPATORY PERFORMANCE with a focus on CREATING COMMUNITY.   The program Pones In(c) Public was conceived of last year as Lindsey Jones, the co-founder of Pones Inc., and myself, Kim Popa, discussed how to encourage the participatory part of our mission.  We found that so often people are intimidated by dance, they feel left out when ballet vocabulary and technique are put into the equation.  However, in our conversations with people we found that everyone has a more visceral, more personal story associated with dance as well.

We often forget the FUN that is innately part of dancing.  Weddings, birthdays, and school dances are all examples of finding the joy in dance.  Jones and I learned that many people’s first memory of dance was also emotive and non-performance based.

“I remember dancing on my father’s feet in the kitchen after dinner, he would turn the radio on and we would dance,” said Jane Green, a recent participant.  So why do we lose this carefree attitude once dance becomes a performance? 

Pones Inc. wanted to explore that idea more, and to connect the everyday person to their ‘inner dancer.' Through this, Pones In(c) Public was created.  We wanted to reach as many diverse neighborhoods as many people as possible.  By the end of this season, we performed in 9 different public spaces in 6 different neighborhoods.  Pones Inc. performed for over 1,000 pedestrians with over 100 participating pedestrians, and 50 musicians and dancers participated.
Being a participant means putting on a pair of headphones that lead you in a simple series of ‘dance steps’ (ex: wave your arms, clap to the beat, do your best robot).  “At first I thought, I can’t do that. Then I started doing it, and realized how easily the barriers can come down,” said Stephen Hafer, Participant. 

The instructions are underscored by local bands and when at its best, a typical outing for a Pones In(c) Public looks like a group of people dancing together to the live music that is being played behind them.  “There is a sense of safety within the headphones.  I feel like I may have been intimidated by dancing in front of strangers if I didn’t have them on,” said Alex Talks, Participant.
Pones In(c) Public at Newport on the Levee
My favorite memory from this year’s season happened at Newport on the Levee.  A group of about 10 junior high boys came up to us and started to participate.  I think at first it was a dare for one of their friends, but at some point they became really invested in it and asked Jon Evans if they could put out his guitar case to busk for tips.  At the same time a dad and his daughter joined in the fun and two gentleman in their 40s who appeared to be business professionals. 

I remember looking around and thinking how special it was that all of these people from seemingly different backgrounds, economic circumstances, ages, etc. could all be dancing together for just a few minutes in the middle of this public space, and having such an uninhibited good time. 

I cannot wait to start planning for next year’s Pones In(c) Public.  I think we learned a lot from the pilot program and we are excited to explore more public spaces and different ways to reach out to the public and allow them to express themselves through movement.

Link to website info:
Example of Pones In(c) Public at IKEA:


Let's Meetup! Fringe Festival

get out meet friends do artOur Friends for the Arts group is hosting a Summer Series of events that will get us out and enjoying some of the great arts events in our area! The first one is Wednesday, May 30th - the first night of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival!

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is over a week of avant garde theatrical performances unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in Cincinnati.

All shows $12 each or “One Night Stand” pass for $25 - includes a free drink at the Know Underground Bar. Various venues in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.

Check out the full calendar at CityBeat and suggest which show you'd like to see.

Join the artists, volunteers and patrons at Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson Street at 10:30pm for a 60-second preview of all 30 shows.

Let's get out and do some art!

RSVP on MeetUp!


Making Waves: Public Art in Surprising Places Celebrates Taft Museum

Art for All at LibraryThe Taft Museum of Art is giving the Cincinnati area a summer-long scavenger hunt. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Taft family gifting their art collection to the city, the museum is taking its art off the walls and into the streets with a new project called Art for All.

Inspired by the Inside/Out project in Detroit, the Taft crew teamed up with the Haile Foundation to make weatherproof, high quality photo reproductions of 80 of its paintings in the collection. 80 framed works are being installed in unusual public places - from dog parks to Creamy Whips, people will find remarkable visual art in places they live, work, and play.

"Maybe you'll see one while you're walking to your office job downtown, then another when you're running errands on the West Side," explains Tricia Suit, Manager of Marketing & Communications at the Taft. "As people in the city are living their lives this summer, they'll be discovering art that's been in our museum all along, in a more accessible way."

The museum team, including Tricia, project assistant Patricia Lee, and assistant curator Tamera Muente, worked together with community art centers all over the region to decide where to install the artwork. The "community curators" helped decide on locations and get the word out to their friends and neighbors about the art in their backyard. "The community art centers were really supportive and helpful in completing this project," says Tricia. "It was great to build on the relationships we already had and work together and share a new experience. There are art pieces in over 60 neighborhoods, 5 counties, and 2 states.

The giant art pieces (some are as big as 6 feet wide!) are created and installed by local companies PLI Printing in Woodlawn and ABC Signs, respectively. Printed on Durabond and weatherproofed with an automotive clear coat, the framed works give us all an opportunity to see art in a new light - literally! "It's amazing what details you can see in bright sunlight," says Tricia.

The Taft Museum of Art is a jewel tucked away in the heart of Downtown. Art For All brings the museum to the people who may have not yet visited the museum. Patricia says, "I think as far as the community - especially with younger people, museums are seen as stuffy and formal. This project takes those barriers down. People get to browse and interpret the art for themselves."

The installations will be completed before the end of May, but the art that is already installed is a huge hit. The pastoral scene of Cattle in the Meadows by Willem Maris hung on the outside wall of the internet cafe in the north end of Findlay Market was the first installation of the project.
Art for All at Findlay Market
"The Market has a lot of art around it- it's a very sensory experience, with food to smell and taste, touch, colors to see, music to hear," says Cheryl Eagleson, Marketing Director for Findlay Market. "The north end of the Market has people out and about, and the work gets a lot of visual attention. People are looking at it, reading the plaque, taking pictures of it and with it. It's good for the Market, and interesting to shoppers."

The Taft Museum will be scheduling Sunday Funday programming with performers, storytellers, and musicians from the area highlighting different areas of the Art for All project. Follow the project on Facebook, or tweet your art sightings to @Taft80 using the #artforall hashtag.


Together we're making Cincinnati amazing!

It's been a great week for the arts in Cincinnati! On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced the arrival of Louis Langrée as the Music Director starting in 2013. The very next day, the School for Creative and Performing Arts shared their good news of $90,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mayerson Foundation to bring master artists to the school for workshops.

And to round out the "good things come in threes" arts news, we're ecstatic to announce that we've surpassed our goal - the Cincinnati area community came together and donated $11,200,053 for arts in the Cincinnati area! For the first time since 2008, we increased the fundraising goal beyond $11 million.

“We set a bold goal this year to grow the campaign after three years of holding steady at $11 million,” said Mike Michael, Chair of the 2012 campaign and President, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati. “Our success demonstrates the community’s passion for the arts, and our shared belief that investing in the arts makes our region a great place to live.”

There were some great things that happened during this campaign!

thank you! bombshells at Cincinnati Art Museum

• About 8,000 new donors.

• We tried new ways of giving, including text-to-give & Facebook, AND debuted our Arts Sampler App!

• 19 new workplace campaigns

• Our Sampler Weekends brought over 13,000 people together to do and see art!

  • George Vincent, managing partner and chairman of Dinsmore law firm, will be our campaign chair for 2013.

We want to thank you. Every person who gave their money, time, effort, and energy into helping this campaign - from pledging money out of your paycheck to sharing our campaign video on Facebook. The arts make Cincinnati amazing because all of us came together in big and small ways to show our support.

- Mary, Lisa, Rebecca, Jenny, and the rest of the ArtsWave team


Making Waves: Youth Circus Connects Kids to Each Other and the World

My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus is busy.

Depending on which day of the week it is, Director Steve Roenker is at one of six schools and recreation centers across the region – from Blue Ash to Covington – teaching kids to ride unicycles, juggle, walk on stilts, and roll around in a German wheel. On Saturday mornings, students from all of those schools who are working on advanced skills get together for four hours of intense practice. Serving more than 300 youth every year, My Nose Turns Red offers kids the chance to do something really different, while learning skills that they can use almost anywhere. MNTR German Wheel

Summer circus programs are offered for children as young as four, and some kids perform with My Nose Turns Red for many years. As they gain confidence with the different circus skills, they can choose to become apprentice coaches and learn the skills to coach younger students and plan performance routines. Coaching gives the teens an opportunity to learn leadership skills, be a positive role model, and even earn a little money.

Anna Kaiser, age 17, and Jackson Savage, age 16, currently serve as Assistant Coaches. They both agree that it is tough work: “The most difficult thing about being a coach is managing a room full of kids who sometimes just want to play,” says Anna. She thinks that the leadership experience will eventually help her to lead co-workers. Jackson agrees, “Just knowing how to handle kids, not even in large groups, is an enormously useful skill in itself. And you never know, perhaps someday I really will have half my bicycle stolen (as so many people have joked) and I will not be left helpless, thanks to My Nose Turns Red teaching me how to ride a unicycle.”

Jackson’s mother, Mary Pat Buck, sees her son learning other valuable lessons, too. “ He’s learning the value of "try, try again". Learning is a process. The achievement of a goal, whether it is a new circus trick or something more academic, doesn't magically appear. It is earned.” Cate O’Hara, Anna’s mother, notes, “I originally signed my kids up for circus just because it is fun. However, along with the fun comes teamwork, leadership, balance (literal and figurative), strength, humor, creativity, and resiliency.” Youth Circus

Jean St. John, the company's Managing Director, notes that the younger kids are eager to follow in their footsteps. In a recent rehearsal when Steve asked who wanted to learn to be assistant coaches, kids piped up immediately with “I want to be Anna!” and “I want to be Jackson!”

Anna and Jackson have both enjoyed learning a new set of skills on the German wheel and the opportunity to learn from circus professionals from all over the world. Steve connected with a renowned German wheel teacher living in Chicago, Wolfgang Bientzle, and that relationship helped My Nose Turns Red bring instructors from Japan and Israel to Cincinnati to work with advanced students. Jackson says, “Meeting a performer, learning from them, and getting to know them is infinitely better than simply watching them do seemingly impossible tricks.”

Connecting young people to new friends from other schools and experts from around the world, My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus provides a unique service to the Cincinnati region. Catch their 2012 Youth Circus Extravaganza on April 28th and 29th at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater.