It’s been four years since the Fine Arts Fund changed its name, mission, and vision for building community. Like any bold endeavor, the new “ArtsWave” made a splash.

What did it mean, then? And what does it mean, today?

When I first heard the brand new name ArtsWave, at exactly this time in 2010, I was sitting on the beach in the Caribbean.  My family and I were in the midst of our three-year island adventure when I learned about the transformation this organization had just undergone in Cincinnati. When I heard the name ArtsWave, I thought, wow, how amazing to have chosen a name for the nation’s oldest united arts fund that suggests one of the most enduring and steadfast things on the planet– waves!

The name “ArtsWave” was selected to signal an emerging understanding of what the public values about the arts: that because the region is home to a wide variety of cultural institutions and experiences, there is a ripple effect of benefits that accrue to individuals and neighborhoods. What fascinated researchers in 2008, who studied this at ArtsWave’s request, was that everyone – from passionate arts patrons to those who rarely engaged with the arts – shared two overarching beliefs: First, that the arts create fun, vibrant neighborhoods that attract and retain residents and businesses; and second, that the arts bring people together to share ideas and experiences, creating stronger social bonds.

The “Arts Ripple Effect”, as we named it, was a strong new characterization of the good things that happen when a flourishing arts scene is part of the make-up of the community.

As the new CEO of ArtsWave, I am excited about revealing the myriad surprising ways that the arts “ripple” and intersect with community and public life.  Like waves coming together, it’s at these intersections of arts and important things like -- a growing workforce, neighborhood identity, personal health and happiness, tolerance and empathy for others, creativity and innovation, and so on -- that powerful things can happen, and are happening.

Today, we see the impact of the arts in action in countless ways throughout Greater Cincinnati. And through grants of more than $10,000,000 annually, ArtsWave is proud to be sustaining and driving 100 organizations and their activities each year that bring people out and bring them together.  

Among the many bits of ArtsWave lore that I’ve inherited, there is the story of a particularly astute business leader who looked at our organization’s new mission and vision, and said: “So, you’re looking to create a movement out of this, are you?” The answer then is the same as today: Yes!

The name ArtsWave reminds us that collectively, the programs of arts organizations and the work of artists create something transformative, more than the sum of their parts.

And, looking back on my view from the beach, as lovely as it is to see your footprints in sand, it is lovelier still to make an imprint on a community. That’s the opportunity we have in front of us, together.

Who will set sail with me? Share your story and/or photo of the “arts ripple effect” on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #ArtsRipple.