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ArtsWave: Supporting the arts while growing investments in African American arts

Through gifts from tens of thousands of individuals and companies each year, ArtsWave funds and supports 100+ arts projects and organizations through impact-based grants. Those projects and organizations create a wave of arts that connect our region and make it vibrant.

The arts play an essential role in the success of our region. They attract national acclaim and help newcomers find their place here. They make our region a more attractive place to live and work. They bring vitality to our neighborhoods. They foster creativity and learning in our future leaders. They even help bring us together as a community across cultural divides.

ArtsWave believes an inclusive arts community reflects the diversity of the region it serves. As the region’s arts council and engine for the arts, our goal is to build and nurture an environment where diversity, equity, inclusion, and access are embedded in everything we touch and do. We are committed to honoring and sharing our community’s collective history and experiences through leadership, funding, programming, and community engagement.

ArtsWave is working with the region’s arts sector on creating and charting progress in diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Over the last several years, ArtsWave has also increased its support of African American arts as a key component of its overall strategy. Since 2019, ArtsWave has raised and distributed more than $1,000,000 for African American arts and artists, including $271,638 in investments in Black and Brown individual artists for projects this spring.

This investment in African American arts includes a new annual grants program that supported 18 organizations in 2020; the new arts series, Flow, An African American Arts Experience which debuted last February; funding for the Black Lives Matter mural outside City Hall; the CMF Outdoor Museum; hundreds of street performances throughout the summer through Cincinnati Music Accelerator; Cincy Nice’s 513 Anthem project; the new Black Excellence in Zone 15 mural in Lincoln Heights; and a dynamic set of nearly 30 local visual arts, performing arts, documentary and literary projects proposed by regional artists on the theme of “truth and reconciliation” to advance understanding of the Black experience and confront racial injustice and inequity.

The arts also bring people together! ArtsWave has a variety of donor groups – Circle of African American Leaders for the Arts, Women’s Leadership Roundtable, Young Professionals, ArtsWave Pride, and Leadership Donors – that offer shared arts experiences, networking opportunities, and amazing events.

ArtsWave’s Circle of African American Leaders for the Arts believe in the power of the arts to bring people together regardless of race or background. Circle members support ArtsWave with an annual leadership gift and member benefits include opportunities to connect with each other and enjoy exclusive arts experiences throughout the year including Flow, An African American Arts Experience. Last year, this included private receptions and post-performance parties for the premiere performances of Flow, featuring the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, as well as tickets to the “Black & Brown Faces” exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum. This year, a new set of special activities are being planned especially for Circle members. In addition, members receive invitations to quarterly ArtsWave Hours to network with other ArtsWave Leadership donors and an invitation to an exclusive ArtsWave Award event honoring an individual who has made a significant impact in the region through the arts each year.

A portion of each Circle member’s gift directly funds Black arts initiatives. Members are recognized in various ways, including ArtsWave’s Annual Community Report.

To find more about ArtsWave and to make an investment in the region’s future, go to

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