District A Festival
is a day of art, dance, music and food in Kennedy Heights and Pleasant Ridge that highlights those communities' efforts to band together and brand themselves as a destination arts district.
"We are doing a progressive party building on our arts assets, moving from Kennedy Heights in the morning to Pleasant Ridge in the afternoon," District A's board chair Maria Kreppel said. "Then we're having a community art party in the middle."
Kreppel said the festival, this Saturday, mimics a typical Saturday in "District A" where Kennedy Heights' arts organizations offer programming in the morning and restaurants and shops are open in Pleasant Ridge during the afternoon and evening.
At this year's festival, dance classes and art demonstrations begin the day at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center
and Arts Innovation Movement
(AIM) Cincinnati (formerly Ballet tech.) During the course of the day artists from the neighborhood (of which there are many) will sell works along Montgomery Road while art activities and a book sale will be offered at the Pleasant Ridge Library. Also, AIM will present a dress rehearsal preview of TwiNight, a dance performance premiering next Friday at the Aronoff. The event ends with indoor/outdoor concerts and dinner at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pleasant Ridge.
A non-profit, all-volunteer organization, District A grew out of a years-old effort in the two neighborhoods to keep their business districts vital despite businesses moving out.
An arts renaissance in Kennedy Heights was sparked five years ago when community members turned vacant buildings into "arts anchors" like the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and later Ballet Tech Cincinnati (now AIM) and the Green Corner and Giving Garden - a market and garden.
Pleasant Ridge, a district with restaurants, bars and shops, joined the effort when its community councils joined with Kennedy Heights' to establish the "Montgomery Road Arts Collaboration." It became "District A" in 2008 with assistance from design agency LPK
. Kreppel said the name reflects the effort to be "not your typical arts district." The organization currently works to foster communication between artists, businesses, building owners and neighbors to promote community and economic growth, Kreppel said.
District A recently helped Pleasant Perk
, a coffee shop, through a change in ownership. They have also placed artwork by local artists in vacant commercial spaces at the corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads. Plans for the next big "arts anchor" in Kennedy Heights - the conversion of an abandoned Kroger's supermarket into the Kennedy Heights Cultural Center - will be unveiled at the event.
Information on the festival, including times, can be found here
. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Writer: Henry SweetsPhotography by Henry Sweets