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SCPA's memory of a beloved teacher is helping raise funds for harp education

Michelle Gwynne, harpist and former teacher at the School for Creative and Performing Arts passed away last semester, but her memory will live on through a benefit concert hosted by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Harp Society.

The concert, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, aims to not only honor Gwynne and her legacy, but also seeks to gather donations to help purchase a practice harp for the SCPA Harp Program as a “perpetual memorial to Michelle,” says Alaina Graiser, president of Cincinnati’s American Harp Society.

Gwynne, who was with SCPA for more than 18 years, was the driving force behind the creation of the school’s Harp Program and was able to take what was a “practically nonexistent program,” Graiser says, and allow it to thrive.

“She really poured herself into the harp department with thoughtfulness, energy and determination that drove the program to be a really unique asset to the school."

The SCPA Harp Department, former students from year’s past, friends and colleagues of Gwynne will all take part in Wednesday’s performance, which is free to the public. Various items will be up for raffle.

According to Graiser, the SCPA Harp Program is particularly special because it makes a unique instrument like the harp accessible to a large number of students who are diverse in age, race and socioeconomic status.

“There are only a handful of harp programs in public schools in the U.S.,” she says. At its high point, the SCPA Harp Program had upward of 40 students.

Through fundraising efforts, Gwynne was able to secure what Graiser calls “an impressive number” of harps for students to play during class — a testament to Gwynne’s positive influence and position within her students’ lives.

“We believe in the power of this program to touch students' lives in a positive way,” Graiser adds. “And while Michelle is deeply missed, we are honored to remember her vivacious spirit and further her undeniable legacy in the Cincinnati Harp Community.”


- Attend Wednesday’s memorial concert, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the Corbett Theater of the SCPA.

- If you are unable to attend but would like to contribute to the purchase of the practice harp, do so here.

- Share the event page on Facebook, and encourage your friends to enjoy music while giving back to a worthy cause.

Michael Coppage is using art to start discussions about mental health

For one local Talbert House employee, thinking about the population served within the workplace extends well beyond the hours of a normal workday.

As a Housing Supervisor, Michael Coppage works with individuals facing mental health issues on a daily basis, and as an artist, he has the ability to shed light on some of those issues in a creative way. He aims to prompt discussion and promote inquiry through his art.

“The need to fit in and ‘be normal’ is often the biggest barrier to medication adherence and routine mental health treatment for the young African-American male population diagnosed with mental illness,” Coppage says. “We need all the help and support we can get.”

Coppage was recently honored with the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Foundation’s Enlightenment Award for his artwork, which has enabled him to explain different topics, such as mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it, to adults and children alike.

Currently, his mural is on display in Over-the-Rhine, courtesy of ArtWorks, at Goetz Alley at 13th Street. His previous work has been displayed in Columbus at the FRESH A.I.R. Gallery on a multitude of occasions.

“Thanks to Michael’s efforts and passion for our clients’ wellbeing, our community is better educated on this important topic,” says Talbert House’s president and CEO Neil Tilow. “And our clients are more likely to be welcomed by a community that sees them for more than their mental illness.”


- Work to encourage your family and friends to both acknowledge and address issues of mental health.

- Support the Talbert House by donating.

- Connect with the Talbert House on Facebook.

Future Blooms program helps beautify blighted properties, urge economic development

Cincinnati’s vacant buildings have been receiving makeovers since 2009, thanks to Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and its Future Blooms program.

Those who participate in Future Blooms paint plywood barricades to look like colorful attributes of what one would see on the outside of a livable space — awnings, flower boxes, windows and doors.

“We find eyesores in a community, and turn them into community assets by using the neglected space to create simple works of art," says Mary Huttlinger, executive director for KCB.

This past weekend, KCB celebrated a milestone as Future Blooms painted its 1,000th vacancy.

The impact?

“Our program uses art as a catalyst for reducing blight, crime and graffiti in Cincinnati neighborhoods,” Huttlinger says.

In fact, in target areas, Future Blooms has contributed to an average drop in crime by 27 percent, blight reduction by 27 percent and an increase in economic development by 34 percent.

And the artwork is serving as a model for other cities that are struggling with vacancy and the problems it presents.

KCB’s mission is to “educate and encourage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their environments,” and it’s with milestones like 1,000 works of art to replace vacant buildings — hubs for otherwise potentially dangerous activity — that the nonprofit is exceeding its vision.


- Volunteer with KCB and its Future Blooms program.

- Support KCB by donating.

- Like KCB on Facebook.

Starfire Council helping create inclusive artist collective in Lower Price Hill

Studio C, a free project incubator for nonprofits, is now in its third week. Seventeen teams are working diligently to “understand people” — a critical component that will allow the nonprofits to have a firm understanding of the populations they serve so they can then come up with viable solutions to reduce family-centered poverty.

Design Impact, in partnership with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, will begin its more intensive work next week with eight of the 17 nonprofits. Not every team will move forward — the final eight teams will be decided through an interview process. The remaining nine weeks of the curriculum will feature studio time and workshops as nonprofits work on their projects.

"Design thinking is important because it’s dynamic," says Tim Vogt, executive director of Starfire Council, which works to build a more inclusive Cincinnati. Starfire has participated in Studio C before, but with a different project.

“Nonprofits get stuck a lot,” he says. “In the old days, there were five-year plans, but the work is so dynamic now, the learning needs to be dynamic as well."

In Starfire’s first iteration at Studio C, it worked alongside Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services and its Early Intervention Team to look at how it could transform its services and influence the bigger system to build relationships.

Rather than a “captive client” situation, Vogt says it’s “an empowering future when marginalized people are pillars of the community.”

In this year’s program, Starfire is working in partnership with Kachelle Cunningham, a Lower Price Hill resident, to shape an artist collective — and with the help of Community Matters — an Artist in Residence program that would allow a member of the Collective to shine.

Cunningham helped launch the collective with “I Wish This Was," a social art project where stickers with dialogue boxes are placed around open spaces to prompt community members to envision an area that could be something else, such as a garden or library.

“I love being a part of Lower Price Hill and the artist's collective so I and other residents can work together to help the community,” Cunningham says.

For Danyetta Najoli, Starfire community builder, the Collective is “designed to bring residents out of their private spaces to share their art,” and in doing so, individuals will get to know one another and families will be strengthened.

“When family members are known, people are more likely to help each other out," Najoli says.

Stay tuned for more updates on teams' progress as Studio C narrows down the playing field.

Music Resource Center hosting quarterly youth showcase tomorrow night

Cincinnati youth will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and potential tomorrow evening at The Sampler. The event provides a public outlet, on a quarterly basis, for Music Resource Center performers.

Housed within the MRC — an Evanston/Walnut Hills-based nonprofit that offers a rehearsal space and studio time for teens, grades 7-12, who can then learn from and receive mentorship from industry professionals as they create and hone their craft — is The Venue. The lounge-style space is where The Sampler will make its debut.

“Providing members with an opportunity to bring their ideas to the stage feels like the perfect way to celebrate how far they’ve come as young artists,” says Nick Rose, MRC's program manager.

From 5:30 to 6 p.m., community members are invited to mingle over a casual dinner, which is provided by Snack in a Sak — a nonprofit that regularly provides nourishment for MRC members who may not otherwise have access to a healthy meal — prior to the live performances, which will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.

"I love how our Sampler brings together people from all walks of life,” says MRC's founder and executive director, Karen D’Agostino. “Students, volunteers, donors and staff share a meal and celebrate the music being created at MRC.”

And the music produced, which students have the opportunity to create at a membership rate of just $2 a month via private instruction at an equipped space, is empowering.

“Music Resource Center’s youth take great care in developing their songs and learning about music,” Rose says. “It’s amazing to see them bounce their creative lyrics and beats among our teaching staff.”


- Attend The Sampler tomorrow night. The event is free with parking available in the lot adjacent to the MRC.

- Like what you see? Support the MRC by donating.

- Spread word about the MRC, and like its page on Facebook.

ReelAbilities Film Festival to showcase 60 films about living with disabilities

In years past, the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival has attracted more than 8,000 attendees, but this year’s Festival is shaping up to be bigger than ever.

With celebrity guests like Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte (Walter White "Flynn" Jr.), various discussions and workshops, themed parties and celebrations and 60 film screenings — all of which will be showcased at the Duke Energy Convention Center, this year's Festival is becoming what Director of Public Relations Lisa Desatnik says is a true Hollywood style film event. 

“The films are world class,” she says. “A number have won awards — they’re coming from all over.”

Organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled, RAFF aims to showcase the lives, stories and artistry of those with disabilities.

According to Desatnik, 1.3 billion individuals worldwide — a number equivalent to the population of China — are living with a disability, and face challenges with dexterity, cognition or the senses. This section of the population includes veterans and those with mental health issues.

“People will leave the Festival with different ideas of what disability is,” Desatnik says. “It’s a beautiful way to break down barriers to the community with questions about diversity and difference.”

To enrich the lives of those with disabilities, proceeds from the Festival will benefit 28 local nonprofits. Previous years’ festivals have helped local organizations tremendously. For example, the 2015 RAFF generated $50,000 for 17 local nonprofits, but this year it is on target to raise much more.

“Each screening is matched with a nonprofit that serves people with a disability,” Desatnik says. “They share a work that’s all about strengthening lives of those with disabilities.”

This year’s event also includes a tribute to veterans, an Interfaith Breakfast that will kick off a year-long effort of religious institutions supporting inclusion efforts through art and film and Family Fun Shorts — a showing that will feature a variety of animated short films.

“I love that it’s getting young kids involved and opening the community up to talking about difference,” Desatnik says. “It should make Cincinnati proud to see how many businesses, nonprofits, academic and governmental institutions are supporting the festival. Its impact is broad and far-reaching.”


- RAFF is still in need of volunteers. You’ll receive a free T-shirt and two tickets to a film if you sign up to help.

- Purchase tickets to this year’s festival. RAFF will run March 9-12, with all film screenings at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

- It’s not too late to sponsor the event. Contact the Cincinnati RAFF today.

Cincinnati International Wine Festival has donated more than $5 million in 27 years

Since 1991, the Cincinnati International Wine Festival has generated nearly $5 million for local charities, and the giving will continue at this year’s event, which takes place March 2-4.
Half of each purchased festival ticket will benefit 36 nonprofits — all of which host programs that impact education, the arts, health and human services.
More than 700 domestic and international wines from 250 wineries will be represented at this year’s event, making the Cincinnati International Wine Festival the Midwest’s premier wine experience.
This year’s honorary festival chair is Geneviève Janssens of the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, who says she is thrilled to share her passion for winemaking with Cincinnati.
“I am dedicated to continuing the winemaking legacy of Robert Mondavi by producing wines with elegance and finesse,” she says. “And that’s exactly what you will find at the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. It truly will be an experience not to be missed.”
The festival will present wine enthusiasts of all kinds the opportunity to taste different wines and indulge in gourmet dining experiences and wine pairings. Education sessions and a charity auction, which will include everything from rare chef’s table dining opportunities to tours of wine cellars, will also occur.
“There is something for everyone, and it’s all for a great cause,” says Debbie Dent, executive director of the Festival. “Not only will you have an incredible time, but you will be helping us give back to local charities in a tremendous way, one glass at a time.” 

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about the local nonprofit beneficiaries and the causes they represent. 

•    Purchase your ticket(s) for a Cincinnati International Wine Festival event today.

•    Like the Cincinnati International Wine Festival on Facebook.

High school musicians will work with the CSO and Pops to put on a concert in April

Local high school students are practicing for what's bound to be a memorable performance.

On April 11, a combined orchestra — made up of students from Indian Hill, Mariemont and Madeira high schools — will perform under the conductorship of Cincinnati Pops’ John Morris Russell.
Along the way, they’ll receive coaching from Russell, as well as from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Pops assistant conductors and musicians.
The concert is part of a longstanding and collaborative effort that is a key aspect of the CSO’s education and community engagement initiative.
“I’m thrilled we are continuing this collaboration for the fifth year in a row,” Russell says. “It’s a joy to see how this program has developed as well as the intense dedication of the student musicians and faculty members in rehearsing and performing together on this very special event.”

The opportunity to perform under the guidance of a top-notch and respected conductor fosters talent and discipline, says Ahmad Mayes, the CSO’s director of education and community engagement. “As the leading music organization in the region, the Orchestra embraces instrumental instruction as a tool for learning and change.”

And when students are highly engaged and inspired, they are capable of producing content that allows them to further recognize their creativity and strength.

“One of the most gratifying endeavors as Pops conductor  is working in the community with music educators, developing self-discipline, creativity, teamwork and love of beauty in our students," Russell says.

Do Good: 

•    Mark your calendars for April 11. Students will perform at 7 p.m. at Indian Hill High School. 

•    Explore ways you can create musical opportunities for students within the classroom.

•    Know a talented young musician? Check out the various opportunities for growth offered by the CSO and Pops.

Matilda Reading Challenge builds anticipation for upcoming Broadway production

Fans of Roald Dahl remember his beloved character Matilda Wormwood’s determined spirit. Perhaps, too, they recall her love of books.
In honor of Matilda's favorite hobby, there are currently some incentives offered to children who read three or more of Dahl’s books by March 17.
To participate in the Matilda Reading Challenge — a collaboration between Broadway in Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County — pick up a reading passport from the Aronoff Center ticket office or your local library, and stamp it after each book is completed.
The prizes?

One reader will win a family four-pack of tickets to Matilda the Musical during its April run, in addition to a copy of the book and gift cards, while 10 readers will receive a copy of the book signed by the musical’s lead actress.
“This musical is a tribute to those who love books,” says Genevieve Holt, general manager of Broadway in Cincinnati. “We are proud to work with the Library to create a fun reading challenge.”
Matilda the Musical runs April 4-16, and will close out Broadway in Cincinnati’s 2016-17 season. 

Do Good: 

•    Pick up your Matilda Reading Challenge passport today. 

•    Find ways to foster a love for reading among your children. 

•    Connect with Broadway in Cincinnati and the PLCHC on Facebook. 

The PLCHC invites you to share your neighborhood memories through "Our Cincinnati"

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is inviting patrons to share their personal stories as part of its “Our Cincinnati” project, which is a digital celebration of Hamilton County’s neighborhoods.

Patrons can scan their paper-based memorabilia — photos, letters, maps — at one of eight library locations from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoons, now through March.

“What we ultimately wanted out of the project was a collection that was built by the community,” says Chad Lewis, sorting and materials retrieval manager for the PLCHC.

The library is also encouraging patrons to educate themselves on how to preserve photos, documents, mementos and memorabilia. Representatives from the University of Cincinnati's Preservation Lab will be visiting the library locations to help with this portion of the project.

The next phase of “Our Cincinnati” includes oral and video recordings, and a third phase will include a printed book as well as a digital archive.

“The role of our library is changing in a lot of ways,” says Kelly Hartmann, library branch manager at the Mt. Healthy location. “It used to be that the traditional library service was one waychecking out items to patrons. Now, we have customers creating the content that will become part of the library, and the library will make that content available to the community. It’s a community curated collection.”

Do Good: 

•    Gather your photos, momentos and memorabilia that tell the story of your neighborhood. 

•    See a list of dates and library locations, and plan a visit to scan your memorabilia for "Our Cincinnati."

•    For more information about "Our Cincinnati," call 513-369-6900 or visit cincinnatilibrary.org.

Pops to host NYC jazz band for NYE speakeasy-themed concert

If you’ve yet to formulate plans for New Year's Eve, have no fear; the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra has you covered.  
New York City-based jazz band, The Hot Sardines, will join the Pops at its Dec. 31 speakeasy-themed concert, which will feature old-time favorites from the likes of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, in addition to some of The Hot Sardines’ originals.
“Sometimes life requires a party,” said Evan Palazzo, The Hot Sardines’ bandleader. “But one that conveys a rich emotional experience which people today sometimes need permission to feel, otherwise known as fun.”
And that’s what the two musical groups plan to bring to the Taft Theatre — perhaps the perfect setting for a speakeasy-themed event where patrons are encouraged to come dressed with their beads and boas.
“We love high-energy music from the first half of the 20th century,” Palazzo said. “Our mission is to show its relevance and power as we usher in 2017.”
Tickets are still available for the special New Year’s Eve performance, which begins at 8 p.m. 

Do Good: 

•    Purchase your concert tickets before they sell out. 

•    Check out a couple of The Hot Sardines' latest hits here and here

•    Connect with the Pops on Facebook.

Eight schools and nonprofits receive 6k in books to enhance promotion of literacy

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati recently distributed about 6,000 books to eight local schools and nonprofits as a result of its annual partnership with Our Lady of the Visitation and its annual Read-a-Thon.
The Read-a-Thon originated when Visitation’s Parent Teacher Organization launched a fundraiser aimed at promoting literacy.
Tasked with reading as many minutes possible per day, logging their hours and then finding sponsors from the community willing to invest in the students is just part of the initiative, as a “giving back” component was added as well.
For the past four years, students and their parents have been encouraged to bring new or gently used books in during the Read-a-Thon, and their efforts have proven significant.
“Throughout the last four years, Visitation has donated a total of 18,571 books to children in need,” said the school’s Curriculum Director, Terry Chapman. “The students enjoy the friendly competition and giving back to others.”
This year’s recipients included The Boys and Girls Club of Cincinnati, Mt. Airy Elementary School, Cheviot School, Oyler Elementary School, Rees E. Price Elementary School, Hays-Porter Elementary School, Resurrection School and St. William School.
According to LNGC President Michelle Otten Guenther, distributing the books was a “great day for our community.”  
“Due to the generosity of the students, families and staff at Our Lady of the Visitation, we were able to distribute thousands of wonderful books to schools and students in need,” she said. “Thank you for being so enthusiastic about reading and enabling others to succeed.” 

Do Good: 

•    Become an LNGC volunteer.

•    Support the LNGC's efforts by donating.

•    Check out LNGC's upcoming events, and plan to attend one.

Celebrate the holidays at new Mt. Healthy maker space

If you’re looking for a day of unique activities and holiday cheer, Mt. Healthy businesses and community members are teaming up to make your Saturday a bit merrier.
Here is what the community has in store for Dec. 10: “We see that not only does Mt. Healthy have a lot of potential, but the neighborhood already has a lot to offer,” said Karen Arnett, Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project’s board president. “We see the community evolving by drawing new residents as more folks learn about the charms of the neighborhood and the values in housing.”
Some of that neighborhood charm comes from longstanding businesses like Hilltop Glass & Mirror, which hosted an open house this past October for its new maker space, Hilltop Glass Creations. The new space allows community members and visitors alike the opportunity to gather together, take classes, learn something new and be creative.
“It’s a bright spot of light in our business district — hopefully one of many to come,” Arnett said.
For Cindy Jurcenko, store and maker space owner, Hilltop Glass Creations allows her the chance to meet diverse groups of individuals.
“People from all walks of life have visited,” Jurcenko said. “I have met several different senior center stained glass members, local school teachers, a Girl Scouts’ leader, a dentist, contractors and remodelers and other small business owners.”
And she plans to meet even more individuals Saturday, as “Painting on Glass,” “Fused Glass” and “Stained Glass” opportunities for ornament-making will bring the crafty and the curious together.
“Everyone who stops in is thrilled to see a new storefront in town,” Jurcenko said. “We are going to be a great new community gathering spot. I couldn't be happier.” 

Do Good: 

•    Share the Christmas in Mt. Healthy! Facebook event with your friends, and plan to attend.

•    Like Hilltop Glass Creations' page on Facebook, and plan to check out the new maker space. You can view a schedule of classes and events here.

•    Like Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project's page on Facebook, and become part of the city's revitalization.

Local creatives raise nearly $10K for Make-A-Wish

Halloween has come and gone, but the impacts of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Cincinnati chapter’s latest fundraiser are long lasting.  The group hosted GUTS: Creatives Carving for Kids at Washington Park last month and raised nearly $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Southern Ohio. The “pipeline of eligible children” continues to grow with the proximity of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“We raised more than enough for one wish,” said Jay Shifman of Make-A-Wish Shifman said noting that they work to grant the wish of every child facing a life threatening illness in our community.
AIGA to surpassed fundraising goal of $8,000 (the average cost of one wish) by $1,200.
The winning Team LPK carved “Haunted OTR"  four pumpkins, side-by-side, depicting the local streetscape.  
“GUTS is a part of AIGA Cincinnati’s larger ‘Design for Good’ initiative,” said Phil Rowland, architect and AIGA member. “We believe design can make a difference in our community.”

Do Good: 

•    It's not too late to donate. Contribute here.

•    Sign up to be a sponsor for next year's GUTS. It's never too early.

•    There are many ways to help grant wishes. Learn about them here.

Library Foundation announces newest Writer-in-Residence

The Library Foundation has a new Writer-in-Residence, local high school English teacher Kurt Dinan.
Dinan teaches 10th grade English and creative writing at William Mason High School. He also serves as the advisor for the school’s yearbook.
Dinan will make his first appearance in his new position at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Main Library’s Popular Library Lounge, where he’ll read from his first published young adult novel, Don’t Get Caught. The reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
“I started writing at 30, and I think when you find your passion, you want to be able to share it with people,” Dinan said.
He’ll have the opportunity to do just that, as he’ll share his talents through a variety of modes and mediums from now through next September.
Conducting writers’ workshops, hosting podcasts and blogging are just a few items on his agenda.

“I’m just really thrilled,” Dinan said. "I’ll have the opportunity to help other writers in the community and support the Library.”

Do Good: 

•    Support The Library Foundation in its quest to better the community through literacy, activity, enrichment and other support services.

•    Keep up with the Library and its upcoming events on Facebook.

•    Mark your calendar for Dinan's first appearance as Writer-in-Residence, which is at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15.
345 Arts + Culture Articles | Page: | Show All
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