has been around for nearly 20 years, touching the lives of thousands of local youths and adults through public art and creative enterprise programming. The noprofit launches an alumni network Feb. 4 to connect those people as a community of “doers.”
“Essentially we realized that over the past 20 years we’ve engaged almost 4,000 individuals,” says Colleen O’Connor, ArtWorks’ Talent Manager. “It’s time to re-engage them.”
The alumni network will provide ways for ArtWorks to support the careers of alumni through networking, mentorship opportunities, professional development workshops and meaningful engagement. The network is designed to bring together participants from all of the organization’s various programs.
The Feb. 4 event will feature food by provided by three different graduates of the Creative Enterprise division’s Co.Starters classes
. More than 200 alumni of that program will soon be joined by a few more entrepreneurs — a new Co.Starters class started last Wednesday night and will graduate in nine weeks with lessons and connections to help them put their business ideas into action.
Another ArtWorks Creative Enterprise program is Big Pitch
, sponsored by U.S. Bank, which has awarded $50,000 in funding prizes to creative small businesses and provided invaluable opportunities for them to receive mentoring and share their stories with funders and the public. Planning is underway for the third annual Big Pitch event later this year.
Of course, most ArtWorks alumni were participants in a summer apprenticeship program, particularly the organization’s famous public murals (for which ArtWorks is currently recruiting apprentices and teachers
). The alumni network gives these apprentices a chance to connect, sometimes for the first time.
“I think one of the great things about our apprentices is there are almost 3,000 of them,” says ArtWorks Communications Director Destinee Thomas. “The teams work really closely together for six to eight weeks and become very close. We’re really excited to about bringing them back together.”
Thomas and O’Connor encourage all ArtWorks alumni to come to the event in February or register to be part of the alumni network
“I think really just from walking around, I’m really blown away by the footprint ArtWorks has,” O’Connor says, citing a recent walk in Over-theRhine when she passed or visited Big Pitch alumni like Brush Factory
and Original Thought Required
while seeing mural after mural along the way. As the nonprofit enters its 20th year, that footprint is sure to keep growing.