The Kickoff to the 2019 ArtsWave Community Campaign is just days away. It's the big 7-0: the 70th annual. That's seven decades of an amazing Cincinnati tradition in support of the arts.
Over these 70 years, ArtsWave has invested $330 million in growing and fueling a thriving arts scene. Hundreds of thousands of gifts have shaped our region's arts landscape. ArtsWave donors have created a climate where new artistic innovations flourish and where new or expanding creative industries bring economic value, jobs and acclaim.
Our 2019 Campaign Chair, Cincinnati Bell President & CEO Leigh Fox, is connecting the dots between arts investment and our region’s ability to attract employee talent and new business.
Arts organizations play a vital role in distinguishing our region as a desirable place to live and work. Established professional institutions like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Playhouse in the Park draw national acclaim; exciting new and growing festivals like BLINK® and Cincinnati Fringe Festival draw visitors and artists. Opportunities to engage in the arts on stage, like the Young Professionals Choral Collective or the May Festival, or in the board room through ArtsWave’s BOARDway Bound training program, deepen the roots of our residents. Highly skilled arts educators from groups like The Carnegie and Melodic Connections provide valuable in-school experiences to the next generation of leaders in Greater Cincinnati.
For the last five years, the ArtsWave Campaign has raised more than $12 million. As proud as we are that ArtsWave is the country’s largest community arts campaign, however, the reality is that many peer and competitive cities are outspending us on arts investments and simultaneously seeing economic growth from business and talent attraction.
Importantly, these cities have established public funding mechanisms to augment private philanthropy for the arts. Good examples are Pittsburgh and Denver, which both have voter-approved regional asset districts that generate millions annually for arts and culture. Closer to home, Columbus derives arts dollars from its hotel tax. In Cleveland, taxes on cigarettes sales help fund the arts.
In Greater Cincinnati, the primary mechanism for consistent arts funding is ArtsWave.
To keep pace with our peer and competitive cities — and to fuel more arts for more people — the Campaign must grow.
What would a larger ArtsWave Campaign do for our region?
• More arts education experiences in schools. Presently, ArtsWave-funded organizations provide 235,000 experiences for youth in three out of every five schools across the region each year. Why aren’t we in five out of five schools, going even deeper to augment the education system? Using the arts to teach creative problem-solving, teamwork and complex, intuitive thinking means better preparing our kids for the future workforce.
• More talent that jump-starts our region. ArtsWave-funded organizations engaged young professionals 500,000 times last year. Peer cities are becoming hubs for these individuals to flock. What would Cincinnati look like if we did even more? Consider it an investment in our future.
• More artistic commissions, cross-arts collaborations and world premieres. This is one way to excite audiences and drive even more distinction to the region as a destination for the arts. Cultural tourism as a result of increased marketing by ArtsWave and the Regional Tourism Network have added $116 million new dollars to our economy over the last two years.
• More funding to strengthen new and diverse organizations in our arts ecosystem. A community that reflects and consistently celebrates the arts of many cultures is a welcoming and inclusive community. ArtsWave’s funding is growing in this area because we see the need to support more diverse arts experiences.
• More arts therapies, improving quality of life for veterans and others suffering from PTSD, for kids and adults on the autism spectrum, and for those living Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other physical or mental challenges. ArtsWave-funded organizations work in hospitals, the VA and senior centers. We are just beginning to realize the local potential for the power of these programs. There is so much more we can do!
To get to where we need to go as a region, Leigh Fox knows that 2019's Campaign needs to grow. We need to raise more money for the arts, to make even more of an impact. "Flat is not the new up," he says. "Only up is up."
Join us in helping Leigh raise the impact of the arts and bar for the Campaign this year. After all, together, we are the arts!
This year's 70th Annual ArtsWave Community Campaign runs February 6 through April 30. Lots of good things ahead. To give now, visit ArtsWave.org/Give.