Regardless of what happened last night, we knew all along there would be work to do beginning today. Work ahead for our politicians, for local leaders of all kinds, even for arts organizations. The 2016 election results confirm deep divisions among us, but ArtsWave and our peers in the arts sector of Greater Cincinnati and across America have been engaged in this work awhile.
ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action, our 10-year strategic plan for the region’s arts sector, roots two of its five objectives in the work of making connections across communities and groups of people. The arts are uniquely positioned to guide us through tough conversations and bridge cultural divides that otherwise might seem insurmountable.
” at Ensemble Theatre and “Jitney
” at Playhouse in the Park, or the recent “30 Americans
” exhibit at Cincinnati Art Museum or the I-71 Project
sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Center, with the Columbus Museum of Art – these are all examples of the arts bringing complex societal challenges, and uncomfortable realities around racial and political divides, out into the open. These arts experiences provide context and room for respectful dialogue among people with different points of view.
When other similarities elude us, the arts can become a common denominator.
Arts experiences can, and must be, places and spaces that cause people to connect, where it is safe for strangers to sit next to one another. There is undeniable power in experiencing the same event together. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “One City, One Symphony
” -- an annual event for five years – has the theme of “Home” this year, with the intent to celebrate this region as inclusive for newcomers and old friends alike. This theme has been embraced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the City as manifesting a commitment to Cincinnati being a welcoming place for all. To lead up to the Thanksgiving week concerts, the Symphony has organized a series called “Break Bread & Listen
” – music, food and conversation among participants about what "home" means to them.
ArtsWave’s Blueprint also includes a focus on building vibrant neighborhoods through the arts, to connect neighbors beyond polite nods and grow community pride. Arts organizations and artists are on the front lines of this work. An example of this is ArtsWave’s partnership with LISC and local and national funders to build networks among community organizers and artists. ArtsWave’s support and encouragement of neighborhood arts programs including the MYCincinnati Youth Orchestra in Price Hill or the Peaselee Neighborhood Center in OTR, or the work of ArtWorks, which brings color, life and community pride to street corners through mural projects, are further examples of how the arts enliven neighborhoods. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, the Fitton Center, Oxford Community Arts Center, The Carnegie and others – these are still more examples of arts-centered, multi-faceted, community gathering places that use the arts to bring people together.
Finally, there is the beauty of art to fill voids within ourselves, and the chance for art to provide creative outlets for expressing what we otherwise can’t articulate. Whether you feel like you’ve won or lost something today, there is an invitation in front of each one of us: to keep doing the work of building a more vibrant economy and connected community for all.
At ArtsWave, we pledge to keep doing that with, and through, the arts.