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2023 Circle Grants

ArtsWave's Circle Grants strengthen the capacity and sustainability of arts organizations led by, or predominantly serving, Black Cincinnatians. They are funded in part by gifts to the ArtsWave Campaign by the Circle of African American Leaders for the Arts.

Here are the projects and initiatives that received the grant in 2023:

Artsville | "We Are the Change"

This project will produce eight one-of-a-kind mini murals for installation on the Artsville building over a period of eight weeks. Students from the local community and schools, aged 12-18 and with a strong interest in art, will meet once a week with different instructors, artists, life coaches and writers. Each session will provide tools to create and the power to change the way the students see our community and the world. It will awaken participants to new perspectives, ideas and values by working in a reaffirming space mirroring all our diversity to generate opportunities to support the next generation of young Black artists, makers and designers. 

Bi-Okoto | Continuing and expanding educational programs

The Bi-Okoto Cultural Center offers after school programs, summer camps, theatre productions, festivals and community space rentals. Combined with Bi-Okoto's educational touring programs, its reach expands locally and across the country to over 180,000. Participating schools see an increase in students' math, reading, life and language skills and achievement scores. Responding to increased awareness and demand throughout the year, Bi-Okoto will hire additional teaching and performing artists.

Cincinnati Black Theatre Company | Strategic positioning for growth and strength

This project builds an organizational infrastructure in two areas: governance and decisionmaking structures (development) and administrative structures (support services in public relations and education). These two areas are fundamental to the work that the CBTC does in the community. The strategic planning process will incorporate a deep dive into the CBTC's programs to fully understand operations, strengths and weaknesses; constructive collaboration with the mission and vision of the CBTC; and potential sustainability.

Elementz | Elementz Creative Futures Initiative

The Creative Futures Initiative (CFI) is an existing program that will undergo meaningful expansion efforts to deepen its impact on the young people Elementz serves. Elementz has created an exposure model that extends further down the educational pipeline, which includes elementary-aged students to high-school-aged students approaching graduation. This is a program designed to help young creatives of color leverage their interests and talents toward accessing and succeeding in creative college and career opportunities. The effort has the potential to close the educational, artistic and aspirational gaps that still limit the possibilities for creative college and career attainment among young people within the BIPOC community.

Learning Through Art | "Books Alive!®"

Learning Through Art will expand its impact on Greater Cincinnati students and families through continued development, improvement and expansion of the "Books Alive!®" app that launched last year. Free and accessible to all, the app primarily targets 3-9-year-olds and complements LTA’s suite of in-person and virtual programs and resources offered to Cincinnati Public Schools and other school districts. The app features BA!FK® content on a platform that is familiar to students and adaptable to individual learning needs. Content is updated continuously, aligning with curriculum and social-emotional learning standards.

PAR-Projects | Visiting Artist and Education Program

As PAR-Projects continues to grow into its campus, it has found a need for spaces where local artists can teach and grow among their peers. The organization has also noted the value of reserving space for Black & Brown artists to create. Pairing those realities with growing interest from local schools in new and interesting field trip options, PAR-Projects will develop the Visiting Artist & Education Program. The program is a combination of concepts that will focus on providing Black & Brown visiting artists with free studio space and teaching opportunities in return for sharing their space and work with the community and neighborhood elementary schools. This funding will also strengthen the PAR-Digital media classes and guest instruction initiatives — integral elements of this evolving program.

Robert O'Neal Multicultural Arts Center | "West End Arts Series"

Season two of the ROMAC's "West End Arts Series" will provide a series of free events ranging from theater to dance, music to visual art, all located in the West End. The ROMAC acts as producer for each event, coordinating the logistics of funding, scheduling and marketing, allowing the performers and artists to focus solely on the creation of their work. Each event will be free and open to the public, focused specifically on accessibility for residents of the West End and creating employment opportunities for local BIPOC artists. The series will showcase work and classes from partnering arts organizations and individual local artists such as Black Art Speaks, NrityArpana School of Performing Arts, Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, Annie Ruth, Revolution Dance Theatre, AfroChine and Q-Kidz Dance Studio.

Sweet Sistah Splash | "AfroSwag Hair and Fashion Show" — Organization capacity building strategy

Sweet Sistah Splash will build capacity for by mobilizing around the "AfroSwag Hair and Fashion Show." "AfroSwag" showcases African American and African fashion and hair design artists, visual artists, dancers, singers, actors, musicians, crafters, multimedia artists and models. Its theme is one of elaborate, Afrocentric hair and fashion designs to empower African Americans to embrace their culture and heritage through Art and Beauty. "AfroSwag" has given a platform to over 200 Black Artists from the Cincinnati area and has exposed thousands to Black Art over the years.