Finding and retaining talent is critical for all metropolitan areas, even in cities like Cincinnati that boast a growing startup community, professional sports teams, an abundance of parts, and an array of Fortune 500 companies.
Arts are a draw for future cities, and in Cincinnati’s case, they are a competitive advantage that keeps our next generation of Cincinnatians while simultaneously drawing in new talent from elsewhere.
Efforts to "deepen roots" are happening throughout the hundreds of organizations and projects funded by ArtsWave, and in fact, this is one of the five areas of focus for the region’s arts sectors, as noted in ArtsWave's Blueprint for Collective Action.
Over the last year, young professionals throughout our 15-county MSA were engaged 597,476 times through more than 100 organizations and projects funded through ArtsWave. With a diverse arts sector, this engagement takes all forms.
One of those organizations, the Young Professionals Choral Collective, is a nonprofit that began in 2011 when a group of YPs began singing in OTR's Below Zero Lounge. Starting with limited funding, including a project grant provided by ArtsWave, the organization has grown to 1,200 volunteer singers, and can now claim to be the largest YP choral organization in the nation.
YPCC's model for arts engagement combines singing and socialization, so that YPs can connect with each other through six to eight weeks of rehearsals that culminate with a performance. This signature program is combined with other ad hoc singing opportunities as well as longer rehearsal-concert tracks.
YPCC has attracted professionals new to the region and it’s keeping talented professionals. Singer Ben Goodman mentioned that when he moved from Chicago, "YPCC really sealed the deal," making him "feel connected, like a local." Singer Taneisha Walton added that she stayed in Cincinnati when she had a chance to relocate to Boston, noting "there’s nothing like this there."
While YPCC is a relatively young organization, we also have other organizations established long ago that are equally impressive in what they are doing. The Cincinnati May Festival has about 120 accomplished vocalists in its Chorus, 40 in its youth Chorus, and over 300 throughout the community that have sung in its non-audition community chorus, open to all.
As the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere, this organization offers something for everyone. Matthew Swanson, Associate Director of Choruses and May Festival Youth Chorus Director of the May Festival notes that the opportunities are "unparalleled," with the chance to sing with both a professional symphony and Pops Orchestra, which together offer a broad range of music to be sung. Between the three choruses, all ages of individuals are represented, with many who consider the chorus an important parts of their lives.
ArtsWave, working with CET, recently produced the video above, which delves into how both YPCC and the Cincinnati May Festival are deepening roots throughout our region.