A conversation with Alecia Kintner, CEO of ArtsWave, is full of energy, much like the organization that she leads. ArtsWave (historically known as the Fine Arts Fund) was the first community campaign for fine arts in the country. Today, with a focus on affinity groups, diversity, and inclusion, ArtsWave promotes ideas and support across the community.
The organization is highly representative of generations that will take it into the future.
At a recent meeting, the Board of Directors for ArtsWave, approved grants to projects of particular interest to the LGBTQIA+ community. The amount being awarded this year, $23,364, has grown by over 90% from the year prior.
The grants were awarded to nine arts projects of interest:
- Basketshop Gallery for an exhibition by artist Elliot Doughtie
- Campbell County Public Library for Fab Five and Their Fabulous Books
- Cincinnati Men’s Chorus for The Big Gay Sing
- Cincinnati Opera Association for “Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)”
- Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for “CSO Proof: Singulis et Simul”
- Contemporary Arts Center for “Let ‘im Move You: This Is A Formation”
- Know Theatre of Cincinnati for “Alabaster”
- Revolution Dance Theatre for “shOUT!”
- True Theatre for “trueVOICE: Behind the Rainbow Curtain
The grants were part of the initiative of ArtsWave Pride, a donor networking group that welcomes and connects members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is the fastest-forming networking and communications group that ArtsWave has ever created, with more than 1,647 signups since its introduction in 2018.
“To our delight the group took off faster than any other affinity groups allies,” she says. “The grants are a way to incentivize programming that is specifically relevant to the group as determined by members of the group.”
Like many organizations with workplace giving campaigns, ArtsWave is rethinking the model and is navigating the changing environment of today. With the days of decades with one company and long-term, stable employment behind us, ArtsWave meets people on their own terms.
“We do a lot of experimenting in determining ways to reach people outside of the workplace.
That’s everything from new technologies to events, to arts events, digital retargeting, and more direct mail. We do a lot of win-win partnerships,” she says. “We are working with shops at CVG to sell arts-related merchandise. That builds awareness and generates revenue.”
As with Pride, ArtsWave’s overall goals are focused on the future:
- Put Cincinnati on the map, gain positive media attention, and attract talent
- Use arts to deepen the roots of those already here
- Leverage the arts to bridge cultural divides and encourage tolerance and empathy
- Leverage the arts to enliven neighborhoods
- Use the arts to enrich the lives of all kids
Kintner adds, “All can have an impact on Cincinnati’s present and future prosperity.”
Most recently, national trends have indicated people are less involved with theater and other performing arts performances. Kintner says that’s not the case in Cincinnati and that local organizations are specifically reaching out to new audiences.
“Despite national trends our theatres tend to have high rates of subscription,” she says.
She explains that the Contemporary Arts Center has teen outings, offering an alternative place to hang out, and that our museums are seeing record attendance.
“The arts are a wonderful vehicle for creating inclusion in our community,” she says. “The Pride groups offer a way that can promote inclusion and celebrate diversity in our community.”