Price Hill Will receives creative placemaking grant, creates new position

As part of LISC’s national creative placemaking initiative, Price Hill Will and the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation each recently received a $100,000 two-year grant from The Kresge Foundation. LISC Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky is one of five pilot sites participating in the first round of the grants, and PHW will use the grant money to further its focus on using the arts for Price Hill’s physical transformation, economic benefits and cultural growth. 
“We’ve been working for a long time on community revitalization, and have always had an arts component to our community engagement,” says Ken Smith, executive director of PHW. “We want to use the arts to create a sense of space as well as a sense of place in the neighborhood.”
PHW will use a portion of the grant money to fund a new position, director of creative placemaking. They’ve hired Laura Jekel, who founded the youth orchestra group MYCincinnati, to spearhead PHW’s creative placemaking initiatives.
“Our long-term goal is to make Price Hill an arts destination in the city,” Jekel says. “There’s lots of arts-related things going on already, and we want to make connections between what’s already happening and build a capacity for the artists living in the neighborhood to be leaders within the community.”
The rest of the grant money will be used for programming, either existing initiatives or ones that are still in the works. PHW currently works with neighborhood residents and community artists on a number of ventures, including MYCincinnati concerts and Holiday on the Hill in December.
The Queen City Chamber Opera performs at the Dunham Recreational Center in Price Hill, and MUSE Women’s Choir recently relocated to St. Michael’s in Lower Price Hill.
Smith says that the community will play a large role in developing PHW’s new creative placemaking initiatives, whether that will be an art exhibit, festival or artist co-op.
Since this is a new venture for LISC, the neighborhoods will help measure the effectiveness of the creative placemaking initiative and if it can be replicated elsewhere.
“We want to become a model for other communities that want to use the arts as a revitalization tool,” Smith says. “We’re not trying to turn Price Hill into something it’s not, but rather change the lack of perception in the neighborhood and get the artists and organizations working together collectively.”

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Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.