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VAE closes season, celebrates 35 years


For 25-year old Matthew Swanson, joining Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble during its 35th anniversary season has been a thrill.
 
Swanson, the youngest member of the ensemble, is a Cincinnati transplant — originally from Iowa — who first became aware of the VAE as a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He regularly attended concerts and rehearsals at the time, and when the opportunity to join the ensemble as an artist arose he seized the moment.
 
This weekend the ensemble closes its 35th anniversary season with the regional premier of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Sealed Angel, which is a musical interpretation and tribute to the Christian conversion of Russia.
 
“VAE's 35th season is a chance to celebrate consistency and creativity,” Swanson says. “The music is both firmly historical and decidedly contemporary. Shchedrin's sound world is spacious, but the intent of the music is human as it traverses a wide range of emotions.”
 
It’s the emotional appeal that Swanson says the VAE understands and is able to communicate in a way that reaches and moves audience members.
 
“The ensemble's repertoire includes a long list of choral masterworks … and VAE brings those works to life with energy and passion,” Swanson says. “Critical to the ensemble's identity, however, is a long-time commitment to new and inventive works — pieces new to us, to our audiences or that take a fresh look at long-held cultural conventions. It is the co-existence of these identities for over three decades that makes VAE a critical component of the region's cultural scene.”

Do Good: 

•    Check out the regional premier of The Sealed Angel at two performances: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at St. Boniface Church in Northside and 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at Mother of God Church in Covington.

•    Chat with Swanson and other VAE singers after the show. The ensemble wants to connect with you.

•    Support the Vocal Arts Ensemble.
 

Bouquet Restaurant launches monthly wine dinner series to benefit nonprofits


Covington’s Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar kicks off its Charity Wine Dinner Series this week to benefit The Carnegie. The five-course meal with wine pairings will become a regular event on the last Tuesday of each month to benefit a local nonprofit.
 
“It's about sustaining the community and shining light on other local businesses and charities,” says Chef Stephen Williams, who owns Bouquet. “Not only does it benefit them, but us as well as a part of that community. Hopefully the idea of helping others will become contagious.”
 
The idea for the dinner series came about because the restaurant wanted to resume its monthly wine dinners, which it had taken a break from during construction. It transformed into a charity event, however, after Bouquet employee James Reynolds, who Williams says “has a very philanthropic soul,” pitched the theme.
 
“He brought the idea to us, and we loved it,” Williams says. “It makes them even more fun.”

As a small business owner, Williams says he’s happy to support the community because “it all comes full circle.”

“Owning and running a business is not easy,” he says. “People put their whole lives into these small endeavors. I think it's important that we all help each other out. The more people that come to our area, the more we all benefit. Someone may come to The Carnegie dinner this month who has never dined in MainStrasse, then they see Otto’s and think ‘We need to try them too!’ We love the sense of community in this area and really enjoy the people around us.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a nonprofit that would like to partner with Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, contact owner Stephen Williams to explain how your organization could benefit from being a recipient of the monthly event. Bouquet is currently searching for next month's beneficiary.

•    Call the restaurant at 859-491-7777 to reserve your spot at the Jan. 27 dinner. Individual tickets cost $125, and $40 will be donated directly to The Carnegie. 

•    Connect with Bouquet on Facebook.
 

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire


When Stephen Wampler was 42, he completed the 7,569-foot vertical climb to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
 
Wampler has cerebral palsy and used his upper body strength and sheer will power to complete the six-day climb in an effort to show children with physical disabilities that they're capable of anything.
 
“In 2002, I had this nagging urge to give back to kids that needed the same experience I had as a child,” Wampler says.
 
So he founded the Wampler Foundation to enable other children to attend wilderness camps, which he says were “life changing” experiences for him as a child.
 
“To get them away from their mom and dad for the first time and to watch them experience the first day and realize, ‘Wow, I’m really out of my comfort zone, I’m really out there,’ changes them forever,” Wampler says. “They experience something that they never thought was possible.”
 
The foundation was at a crossroad in terms of growth in 2008, however, so Wampler wanted to do something big — he chose El Capitan. 
 
“That was my first real climb in my entire life,” Wampler says. “You go from euphoria to sadness to being really, really mad and irritated to happy to wondering why I was there. Every emotion goes through your brain all the time, and it was just really exhausting.”
 
But it was worth it, Wampler says, as his foundation has become more recognized, enabling more children to be inspired and attend camp.
 
It’s these inspiring stories that will be showcased on the big screen at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.
 
Wampler, among other notable individuals like Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress Marlee Matlin, will be in attendance for the region’s largest film festival, which is organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and benefits local nonprofits.
 
Wampler’s Ascent, which draws viewers in to his drive to inspire and show others that nothing is impossible, will be shown March 4 and followed up with a question-and-answer session.
 
“Racing down the stereotype is the bigger picture of why I did it,” Wampler says. “And I think that once people get to know other people, that barrier comes down for them.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets to view Wampler's Ascent on March 4.

•   Check out trailers for other films to be showcased at the festival Feb. 27-March 7 and purchase tickets.   

•    If you're interested in getting involved, sign up to volunteer at the festival.
 

Ameritas employees log thousands of volunteer hours, invest in community giving


Cincinnati’s office of Ameritas, a financial services company, is committed to giving back to the community to further improve the areas in which its employees “live, work and play.” To showcase that ideal, the company recently launched The Hours Project.
 
To date, Ameritas employees nationwide have donated 16,369 total hours. Its Cincinnati employees are heavily involved in the project and have engaged in everything from serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House and the Over-the-Rhine Kitchen to providing educational assistance at local elementary schools and landscaping for the elderly.
 
“Being able to give back to the community makes me proud to work for Ameritas,” says Jennifer Mueller, disability claims examiner and member of Ameritas’ Community Involvement Council. “I know that we care about helping others. Part of our mission is about ‘fulfilling life,’ and we really do that.”
 
Mueller led more than 20 employees at this past year's annual Community Care Day, where she says she and her coworkers engaged in activity like trimming, power washing, removing dead trees from Mercy Community at Winton Woods' senior living facility's property and cleaning up flower beds.
 
“Fulfilling life” is something Ameritas employees are doing on a daily basis by helping clients to protect what's most important to them, but for Mueller it’s gratifying to be able to extend that reach beyond the company’s typical clientele.
 
“We not only give of our time, but we also give monetarily each year to worthy causes, like the arts in Cincinnati,” Mueller says. “It’s so important that my company gives back to the community. It shows that we are invested in Cincinnati and especially Forest Park, where we are located.”  

Do Good:

•    If you're a local business, initiate an activity or activities to give back to your community. 

•    Contact The Hours Project if you have an idea to share.

•    Support local nonprofits by giving monetarily. 
 

Downtown Public Library to expand technological offerings with Makerspace


The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s main downtown branch will become the home for a revamped TechCenter and brand new Makerspace Jan. 26. For Ella Mulford-Chinn, team leader of the new space, the hope is to reach new audience members and bring a new demographic of users into the library.
 
Mulford-Chinn, 28, who is a YWCA Rising Star and who was also chosen by the American Library Association as an Emerging Leader in Libraries, initiated maker programs when she served as teen librarian at the Mt. Washington branch.
 
“It all started with a curiosity about 3D Printing that helped me discover an entire community of people who were interested in teaching and learning about new technologies,” Mulford-Chinn says. “Libraries across the country had just started implementing programs like this, so I decided to take a chance.”
 
According to Mulford-Chinn, it was a huge success.
 
“I was having teens and tweens coming in from around the city to learn about robotics, soldering, computer circuitry and app/ video game creation,” she says. “Nothing is scarier than a bunch of 10-18 year olds with soldering irons, but they were so respectful with the tools. They knew they were doing something special.”
 
Now an even wider audience will have the chance to collaborate with one another by sharing ideas and working in a space that facilitates their creativity and inventiveness.
 
After the downtown branch purchased a 3D printer in May 2014, a committee came together to discuss the ways in which even more technology could be offered to the public, and now that dream has become a reality.
 
The new downtown space will have various maker stations and include equipment and technologies like a sound recording booth and a laser cutter that can do everything from engraving glass bottles to burning wood.
 
“People will be able to go into this booth and make their own personal recordings, like in a studio,” Mulford-Chinn says. “We will have music mixing and media available for people to record and take their projects home with them. I think the teens are really going to love this. I am so excited to work with them and show them how to create their own media and not just consume it.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the library through the Library Friends or the Library Foundation.

•    Volunteer at the library.

•    Contact Ella to share your skills in the new Makerspace.
 

MU holiday performance to benefit Walnut Hills marching band


Twenty-four Miami University vocalists and a 16-member big band will join together onstage at Walnut Hills High School's newly renovated auditorium this weekend to perform “A Swingin’ Holiday: Big Band Choral Spectacular.” A portion of the proceeds from the performance will benefit Walnut Hills’ music department, which has “an astounding reputation,” according to MU’s Ben Smolder.
 
“Walnut Hills High School is full of brilliant and diverse children that have the pleasure of studying in the finest high school in the state of Ohio,” says Smolder, who will director and conduct the show. 
 
Smolder serves as Director of Miami Opera Theater, which launched a fundraiser in support of Walnut Hills’ marching band, selected by Youth Music of the World to participate in the 2016 Paris New Year's Day Parade.
 
“Being from rural Appalachia, I was deeply shaped by a similar experience in early life that led to a lifetime of travel and a deep desire to understand other cultures,” Smolder says.
 
This weekend's performance is a way to help others but also to add joy to audience members’ holiday season.
 
“Our goal was to recreate the musical specials that would appear on TV and radio during the Christmas season from the 1940s to the 1960s,” Smolder says. “One cannot hear this music without being transported back to a time when we were surrounded by our loved ones and gazing at the evening sky in hopes of seeing Santa.”
 
Do Good:

•    “A Swingin’ Holiday: Big Band Choral Spectacular” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Walnut Hills High School. Enter promo code “Santa” at the ticketing box office to receive a discount. 

•    Support the WHHS music program. 

•    Support WHHS students by volunteering.
 

Constella goes digital, aims to draw national audience to spring festival


As the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts gets ready to release the lineup for this April’s performances, the goal is to “target audiences nationally to come to Cincinnati,” according to Tatiana Berman, internationally renowned violinist and festival founder.

The name “Constella,” which is derived from “constellation,” is significant to festival organizers because performers and audience members get the chance to connect with one another through music in an intimate setting.
 
“The international concept for Constella was always connecting people and ideas,” Berman says.
 
To do that even more effectively than past years, Constella has made the move of going digital.
 
Berman collaborated with Julie Spangler to compose, perform and record a video performance piece, “Vitali Variations,” and the second digital short, which will be released in March as a precursor to the festival, will feature Roomful of Teeth.
 
“We would like to think this kind of a beautifully produced video can connect a whole new audience in an informal way with music, which we are passionate about,” Berman says.
 
Through these visual musical collaborations that include Grammy award winners and emerging artists, Constella will be able to further its mission of challenging “misconceptions of classical music and the performing arts” by extending its reach to a worldwide audience.
 
“Through production of music videos, recordings and other digital content, we can expand our performance presentations,” Berman says. “It allows for people around the world to experience the power of music and the arts.”

Do Good:

•    Check the Constella Festival website Jan. 15 to view the festival lineup and purchase your tickets for April’s performances.

•    For sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, contact Rachael Moore.

•    Support Constella by donating. 
 

Local organist featured in Price Hill celebration of community, giving


Community members will join together at the Bloc Center Saturday evening in Price Hill to share musical talents, engage in fellowship and collect donations for neighbors in need.
 
A Night With Scott and Friends, the west side’s second annual community Christmas concert featuring Scott Elick — member of both the Cincinnati Organist Guild and Starfire Council's Out & About program — enables individuals to celebrate one another during a time of joy and thanksgiving.
 
Beneficiaries from the night’s donations include Manna Outreach in Price Hill and West Fork Christian Faith Fellowship’s Food Pantry.
 
“Now that I'm retired from full-time work, I really enjoy lending my musical talents to causes that benefit our local communities on the west side,” says Sheryl Pockrose, Covedale resident and folk singer.
 
For Elick, who has played organ since age 8, it’s one of the highlights of his season.
 
“Scott can play anything he hears,” says Danyetta Najoli, Starfire’s community coordinator. “It's truly an amazing gift.”
 
Elick says it's also important to him to give back to the west side — Price Hill in particular — because of his close ties to the neighborhood. Not only is it the location for the concert, but it’s also where his brother lives, and family is something for which he’s grateful.
 
“I feel connected to the community,” Elick says. “The people and their culture is something I have always been interested in. I want the people of Price Hill to enjoy the Christmas season, the music, the lights as much as I do.” 

Do Good: 

•    Attend "A Night With Scott & Friends" 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Bloc Center, 931 McPherson Ave. in Price Hill.

•    Support your local food pantries. 

•    Connect with others year-round at events you're passionate or curious about by attending Local Learning Labs.
 

Cincinnati YMCAs aim to strengthen global community

In 2013, the YMCA of the USA, in cooperation with 40 different YMCA associations across the country, came up with a plan to expand efforts of global community building.
 
Now, one year later, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati—one of the 40 associations involved in Y-USA’s efforts—is doing its part in the local community to ”create, strengthen and replicate innovative global services, partnerships and organizational practices at home and abroad” through its Global Center of Excellence.
 
“We really want to connect with our neighbors in our community in a much stronger way,” says Karyl Cunningham, executive director of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. “In a changing community, changing world, the Y’s mission has always been a movement about embracing people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and supporting movements that are critical for the greater good of society.”
 
At the Clippard Y, which Cunningham says is one of the most “ethnically diverse” of Cincinnati’s 14 branches, members are gearing up for the Taste of the World tailgating event, where individuals bring in their favorite meal or dish to share with one another while engaging in conversation and watching football together.
 
“There’s going to be some learning opportunities that take place, and it should be a really great thing,” Cunningham says. “And as we move forward, we’re always going to have global community as a basic premise, so the Global Center of Excellence is one of those ways to keep that front and center for the work we do.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the Clippard Family YMCA by attending the Taste of the World tailgating event Nov. 16 from 12-3 p.m. The event is $10 per family or $5 per individual, and all proceeds help the Y further its mission. 

•    Learn about joining the Y

•    Support the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati by giving.
 

Photos at Skirball reveal history, transition of Cincinnati's West End

Sixty black-and-white photographs documenting the architecture, history and human experience of Cincinnati’s West End in the early-mid 20th century, are on display at Skirball Museum.
 
George Rosenthal, Daniel Ransohoff and Ben Rosen: Documenting Cincinnati’s Neighborhoods, which is part of FotoFocus, opened late last month, though photos remain on exhibit through December 21. And this Wednesday, community members are invited to a panel discussion with historians, scholars and community partners who are knowledgeable about the West End.
 
“The panel provides an opportunity to engage with people who have studied the West End, lived in the West End, written about the West End,” says Abby Schwartz, director of Skirball Museum and curator of the exhibition. “We hope to engage with these experts about the history of the neighborhood and the lessons we can learn from its demise, as well as have the opportunity to hear from those who knew the photographers whose works are in the exhibition.”
 
According to Schwartz, the photos on display tell a story about the “plight of urban neighborhoods” during times of transition.
 
“In the case of the West End, what was promised as urban revitalization really turned out to be a terrible chapter in the city's history, resulting in the destruction of an entire neighborhood and displacement of its inhabitants,” Schwartz says. “I think it presents an opportunity to think about what could have been done differently, and provides lessons going forward.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend Wednesday's panel discussion at 7 p.m. 

•    Check out the exhibition at Skirball Museum. Hours are here.

•    Check out other exhibitions that are part of FotoFocus Biennial 2014.
 

Local family to host fifth annual Rock 'n Aspire for MS

Simcha Kackley, founder of Rock ‘n Aspire, will host her fifth-annual event November 15 to generate funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
 
Since the first Rock ‘n Aspire concert in 2010, the grassroots effort has raised more than $20,000, but perhaps even more important for Kackley is that she has now created connections among families affected by MS.
 
“I had no idea of them before,” Kackley says. “Now we can go to each other and just know we understand each other.”
 
In February 2008, just one month before Kackley’s wedding, her husband Matt, who serves as a police officer in Hamilton County, woke up with numbness on the right side of his body.
 
He was later diagnosed with MS, though thankfully, Kackley says her husband’s case is a mild one, as Matt experiences one episode annually.
 
“It put everything back into perspective,” Kackley says. “We know we're very lucky because others have more challenges, and so we're thankful; but we have empathy with those who have it harder, because we remember bad episodes.”
 
To share that empathy and to bring people together for an evening of music is a goal of Rock ‘n Aspire, though the ultimate aim is to raise money to find a cure for MS.
 
“I know what it's like to not know what's going to happen—to be experiencing bad episodes and not know when or if they'll end,” Kackley says. “We've been lucky, but others aren't. And I'm just trying to bring people together who can relate, to use sound and the power of music to fill our fight against MS.” 

Do Good:

•    Purchase a ticket to attend Rock 'n Aspire.

•    Learn about ways you can support the National MS Society through Rock 'n Aspire.

•    Volunteer with Rock 'n Aspire.
 

First Impact Covington Day hailed a success

More than 200 volunteers came together last Saturday on Make a Difference Day—a national day of giving—to better the City of Covington.
 
It was the first of six Impact Covington days, which COV200—the group tasked with planning the city’s Bicentennial Celebration—initiated.
 
“We want to instill pride in the community,” says Amanda Greenwell, vice chair for the bicentennial. “And we think the best way to do that is for people to actually take part and make it a better place.”
 
The committee is now accepting applications for the second Impact Day, which will take place December 13.
 
“If an organization wants to do whatever—beautification, public art, social services—we have a database of volunteers and a pretty big network of people who say they want to get involved and give back,” Greenwell says.
 
This past weekend, volunteers did everything from painting to landscaping, but the next Impact Covington Day will deal specifically with work completed at social service organizations throughout the city.
 
“These events are great opportunities to actually meet your neighbors and get engaged with your community,” Greenwell says.
 
“Today with the digital age we’re in, people are really disconnected with our neighbors, so through the Bicentennial and all the events, we’re hoping to bring the community together as one to meet their neighbors and understand more about the city and the organizations that make it a better place.”
 
Do Good:

•    Submit your Impact Covington Day application by November 10 if you're a nonprofit in need. 

•    Attend one of the hundreds of events planned for Covington's Bicentennial Celebration.

•    Sign up to volunteer with COV200.


 

Mummies of the World to debut in Cincy, offers insight to past and present

‘Tis the season for all things Halloween, but it won’t just be Friday when mummies invade the Tri-State. 

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition opens at Cincinnati Museum Center November 26 and will run through April 26. 

“These mummies are borrowed from 10-12 institutions both in the U.S. and in Europe. Unless you’d go to all these places, you’d never have the chance to see them all in one place,” says Heather Gill-Frerking, biological anthropologist and curator of the exhibition. 

Gill-Frerking has studied mummies for about 20 years and has been with the exhibition since it was first developed in Germany. The exhibition contains both human and animal mummies, preserved both through natural and artificial mummification. 

The fact that some of these specimens are people and can tell us a story—even in their death—is a magical thing, Gill-Frerking says. 

There are three mummies, for example, from a crypt in Hungary, and all have tuberculosis, and may have even died from complications of the disease. 

“We know 65 percent of that town in 18th century Hungary had TB, so by studying the strain compared to what exists today, we know it’s getting angrier and has grown multidrug resistant. But by looking at differences, we can see how it transforms over time and maybe come up with treatments,” Gill-Frerking says. “So the fact that 18th century mummies can tell us about medical treatments is a very cool thing.” 

Do Good: 

•    Plan to attend Mummies of the World: The Exhibition. Tickets go on sale today.

•    Consider becoming a member of the museum.

•    Download the Mummies of the World learning guide here if you're an educator, and plan a class field trip. 
 

Kennedy Heights Arts Center to undergo expansion, provide more to local arts scene

It’s been a decade now since residents came together in an effort to save what was a crumbling, historic structure, slated for demolition, and which now houses the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.
 
Now, 10 years later, an even bigger transformation will occur, as the Arts Center breaks ground November 14 on construction for its second location and regional campus—the Kennedy Heights Arts Center Carl, Robert, Richard and Dorothy Lindner Annex
 
When completed next year, the building will allow the Arts Center to expand its offerings to the community in a variety of ways.
 
“In the Annex, we’ll have a multipurpose events center which will be home to different kinds of performing arts programs in theater, music and dance, and we’ll have a venue for classes and workshops,” says Ellen Muse-Lindeman, KHAC executive director.
 
“We’ll also be creating the Scripps Howard Media Center, which will allow us to expand our already popular arts education programs to offer classes in digital-based art—so, photography, video, animation, web design, graphic design and the like.”
 
There will also be space for 10 individual studios, which Muse-Lindeman says artists may choose to rent, providing them a space to work, which strengthens the arts community in the region.
 
The Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus will also house the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, and it contains enough space for a third institution, as well.
 
“We see this as the crossroads—the core of our community—as it’s revitalized in this way,” Muse-Lindeman says. “It continues to bring a more positive image to the neighborhood, it attracts more people with it being a regional destination, and it encourages more development—more on neighboring properties—and we see this as being a catalyzing project that has lots of benefits in terms of all the services we’ll be bringing to residents.” 

Do Good: 

•    Celebrate the Arts Center's expansion by attending the November 14 groundbreaking.

•    Check out the Arts Center's various programs, and consider participating in one.

•    Learn about the various ways you can support the Arts Center.
 

Peaslee Neighborhood Center celebrates 30 years of community impact

In December 1984, a group of women—mostly composed of single moms—received keys to the former Peaslee School in Over-the-Rhine, after having led fundraising efforts to ensure their children access to quality education.

“They didn’t know where their positive steps would go, or how far that would extend for people in this community, but they just did it anyway and that’s inspiring to me,” says Jennifer Summers, executive director of Peaslee Neighborhood Center.
 
“It’s a narrative that’s not a typical narrative of low income people in our community, and that motivates me to make sure that there are consistently spaces in this community that are accessible to everybody across all types of backgrounds.”
 
Now, 30 years later, Peaslee is celebrating its space in the community that demonstrates how far the women’s positive reach has extended, in creating "a peaceful place,” where everyone in OTR is welcome and can learn from and through one another.
 
One of its particularly successful programs, and one that Summers says shows the ways in which social change is at work, is its community education partnership with the Miami University Urban Teaching Cohort.
 
“It brings people from the community—moms, volunteers, recent graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools—together to help educate young, new, potential teachers on the things they can’t learn in a book about teaching,” Summers says.
 
“So the college students see community members on a regular basis, and those relationships are formed over five or six years, so by the time that student is teaching in the local school here, they have a network of support so they can support the students in their classroom in a way that makes sense to them, that honors their experience and that is effective.”
 
One way relationships are formed is through bonding activities like quilting and storytelling.
 
“People connect across generations,” Summers says.
 
“You can’t create any kind of change collectively unless you can get comfortable enough with each other and comfortable enough to do challenging things together, and I feel like we’re leaning into that. We’re promoting basic enrichment and educational services to the community, and we’re reaching beyond that to say, ‘How do we build a world we don’t just function and survive in, but that everybody thrives in, so that our successes are tied together?'” 

Do Good: 

•    Help Peaslee celebrate 30 years by attending Peaslee Presents: A Place for Everybody on November 6.

•    If you're interested in putting together a team from your workplace or community group, volunteer to complete a project for Peaslee. 

•    Support Peaslee by donating.
 
223 Arts + Culture Articles | Page: | Show All
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