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ArtsWave: Deepening Roots for Black and Brown Artists in the Cincinnati Region



For many years, ArtsWave has committed to making inclusion a hallmark of the Cincinnati region’s arts. Reaching that goal means working with local organizations to promote the voices of all artists in our community and build audiences that reflect the entire region. The past two years saw concrete steps toward backing up that commitment, including a concert series featuring top Black performers from around the country and a grant program for local Black and Brown artists.


ArtsWave launched Flow, an African American Arts Experience in February of 2020. It’s a series of inspiring and exciting events elevating and celebrating African American culture and artistic expression, featuring top Black artists from around the world. The onset of the global pandemic disrupted Flow’s inaugural season, but it returns this December with "Norm Lewis: Naughty and Nice," starring one of Broadway’s most sought-after leading men.

The Tony-nominated star has become synonymous with the holidays. His annual shows in New York City are a barometer for the season, filled with classic holiday songs and Broadway showstoppers. "It’s going to be a special celebration this year to perform live and be able to see all those beautiful faces up close and personal," Lewis says. ArtsWave and Cincinnati Arts Association look forward to welcoming this nationally renowned performer to the Aronoff Center on December 3 and 4. Tickets are available now online or by calling 513.621.2787.


Three additional artists will visit the region over the next year as part of Flow, including the award-winning jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, scheduled for April 1-2, 2022, also at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater.


To support artists closer to home, ArtsWave launched a new grant program for Black and Brown artists in the Cincinnati region in 2020. In its first year, the program funded 27 projects on the dual themes of “truth” and “reconciliation.” Artists created visual art, dance, music, poetry, theater and more exploring the concept.


Now, thanks to a continuing partnership between ArtsWave, the City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Macy’s, the program seeks a new round of applicants for its second year. Black and Brown artists can apply for up to $15,000 to create work in any artistic discipline. Selected artists will work with community partners and exhibit their results to the public in summer 2022.


A selection committee will award grants for projects based on how they advance ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action, including the goals to bridge cultural divides, promote understanding and empathy, deepen the roots of residents and improve neighborhoods.

If you know an artist that might benefit from a Truth and Reconciliation Grant, you can find eligibility guidelines, program requirements and application instructions at artswave.org/apply.


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