One of the many nice things for me about having moved my family to Cincinnati from New England is the fact that I am geographically closer to my sister, who has made a home for herself in Peru, Indiana. This past weekend I took my two kiddos on the 3.5-hour road trip to my sister’s northern Indy town to play with her two kiddos and catch up on family gossip. 

To my surprise, we were welcomed at the town's border with a sign declaring Peru to be the Circus Capital of the World.  

What? Really? 

Turns out that there is a tradition of circus arts in Peru that dates back to the 1800s and continues to the present day with festivals, camps and performances. The town is home to amateur circuses that attract tourists from all over the globe. On the strength of that artistic heritage, the community of 11,417 residents differentiates itself.  

As I drove all those miles back home I considered, “What is on our Welcome Sign in Cincinnati –
either by the side of the road as we whiz by, or popping up on our screens in a browser’s search engine?”  

At ArtsWave, we believe Greater Cincinnati's long-standing and vibrant arts community helps differentiate our region. Our first-class arts organizations put Cincinnati on the proverbial map. They ought to be trumpeted on billboards and Wikipedia descriptions. And yet, Cincinnati has more it can do to leverage the quality and variety of our arts to build a positive and well-rounded reputation for our region.  

Consider this: last week alone – when our fair city undeniably needed some good press -- Cincinnati arts sparked some glowing headlines. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Maestro Louis Langree, received rave reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal (and several influential blogs) for their performance last Wednesday at Lincoln Center in New York City.  

And, while the CSO was earning national headlines for Cincinnati, local media reported that the arts are playing a major role in our region's efforts to attract and keep talented young professionals. As much as the arts put Cincy on the map, they also can deepen our roots in this place we call home.   

The arts also impact and even help determine the viability and livability of neighborhoods. Long before condos, retail and destination restaurants and bars emerged in Over-The-Rhine, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati was putting down its own roots. That organization celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and has played a key role in OTR’s resurgence through its steady presence and by creating foot traffic.

These are just a few examples of the ways the arts are connecting our community, enlivening our neighborhoods and building Greater Cincinnati's reputation. More of Cincinnati's leaders and residents can -- and should – take pride in and share these positive stories.   

How can we get more people talking about these successes and unique organizations that make Cincinnati amazing? How do we create, polish and amplify a positive reputation through the arts?