‘Tis the season to focus on gift-giving, and there’s no better place than ArtsWave for a reminder of how much joy that can bring. One of the best things about our work is being able to provide grant funding for arts projects that make a difference in the lives of Greater Cincinnatians.

Recently, ArtsWave Trustees approved over $100,000 in new Catalyzing Impact grants to 17 organizations. These awards were recommended by a panel of community volunteers, who reviewed a total of 35 applications in this round. Catalyzing Impact grants are one-time grants for organizations using the arts in a variety of different types of projects across our region. All the projects are worthy and exciting, but a few especially captured my attention for their sensitive responses to ArtsWave’s goals outlined in our Blueprint for Collective Action for the Arts Sector:

* To use the arts to bridge cultural divides, Pones Inc. will present ReNewed Colossus next May and June. Premiering as part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, this artistic exploration will feature immigrants, refugees, young professionals, and local artists living in Cincinnati – with the intent to foster empathy and combat stereotypes while telling their very different stories. 

* To use the arts to deepen roots of all our region’s residents, the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance will present a series of “Veterans Reflections” over the coming months. Each night of storytelling will give veterans a cathartic way to share their experiences by exploring the values of honor, sacrifice and citizenship. At the same time, audience participants will discover a deeper way to express appreciation for the service of these veterans to our country. 

* To use the arts to fuel creativity and learning in kids, ArtsWave’s grant to the City Gospel Mission will underwrite its very special Princess Ballet recital. Reaching low income families, the Princess Ballet program provides nearly 350 girls ages 4-18 with free ballet instruction from professional trained ballet dancers, culminating in a year-end performance. The Princess Ballet program has a track record of boosting self-esteem in the participating girls and providing them with positive adult role models, as well as cultivating their appreciation for the arts.

* To use the arts to enliven neighborhoods (and engage families at the same time), ArtsWave will sponsor the first-ever Family Theatrical Series at the newly renovated Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Featuring local organizations like The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (also an ArtsWave Impact Grant recipient), as well as touring programs, the series will present wonderful family entertainment and memory-making possibilities. This is just the latest in new programs that enliven the area around Washington Park.

* Finally, to use the arts to put Cincinnati “on the map,” Cincinnati Soundbox will present the New Concerto Project at the Leapin’ Lizard Events Center in Covington on May 2, 2017. Four rising female composers based in Cincinnati, Nashville and New York City will premiere compositions written for soloists and orchestra. This will be a “one night only” experience that you can’t find anywhere else, and draw attention to our region’s thriving contemporary music scene. 

These are just a few of the gifts being offered to our community this year, thanks to the tens of thousands of donors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. 

Wishing you a joyous and art-filled season!