$100,000 capital grant will light up Know Theatre of Cincinnati with new marquee

The Know Theatre of Cincinnati started out in 1997 as a nomadic theatre company.  The theatre found a temporary home at  Gabriel's Corner and has since become "the largest non-equity theatre in the area." It now has a permanent home at 1120 Jackson Street in historic Over-the-Rhine thanks to the help of local philanthropist, David C. Herriman.  The alternative theatre produces contemporary, multicultural and provocative arts as well as runs the Cincinnati Fringe Festival (more on that later).

Since the Know Theatre of Cincinnati has been in its present-day home in Over-the-Rhine, it has established deep roots in the neighborhood as well as becoming an important cultural anchor to a quickly redeveloping part of the community.

The Know Theatre of Cincinnati often partners with other neighborhood establishments to help create a vibrant and sustainable arts district that includes the nearby Art Academy of Cincinnati, Ensemble Theatre, Music Hall and various other art galleries.

The theatre company's growth has not gone unnoticed as the Know Theatre was recently awarded two separate $50,000 capital grants from the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

"This money will go a long way in helping make a variety of capital improvements to the facility including a new marquee," says Know's managing director Eric Vosmeier.  The marquee is expected to be designed by local artists who helped with the Know Theatre murals and be built before the end of the calendar year.

Other recent improvements to the building include the new murals on both the north and south facing walls of the Know Theatre facility.  These murals were commissioned as a part of the last two Fringe Festivals and transformed previously blank walls into murals that celebrate the artistic influences of the Know Theatre and the Fringe Festival, as well as offering way-finding to the theatre's entrance.

2009 Fring Festival Successes
Speaking of the Fringe Festival, Vosmeier stated that this year's festival was the most succesful to date.

"We've seen a steady growth each year," says Vosmeier about the Fringe Festival.  "We usually have about 45 percent occupancy on average at each one of our performances; this year was about 60 percent."

The 2009 festival saw some 6,600 visitors - about a 4 percent increase in numbers over last year. The festival is now considered to be the largest performing arts festival in the state of Ohio. Despite the festival's success, managing director Eric Vosmeier is not content with resting on the institution's laurels and is already working to to improve the festival's community-based atmosphere.

"We want to keep layering in that consistency of being an artist-friendly fesitval while continually increasing the number, quality and geographic diversity of our applicants."

As the Know Theatre of Cincinnati and Fringe Festival move forward, they will do so facing some stiff challenges.  Two of the Know Theatre/Fringe Festival biggest supporters passed away this year..

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Eric Vosmeier, managing director, Know Theatre/Fringe Festival
Photography by Scott Beseler
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