Photo by Daian Gan from Pexels

On Juneteenth, ArtsWave, the engine for the arts in the Cincinnati region, announced the first set of recipients of a new African American arts grants program, totaling $255,000. These grants, plus $287,000 already invested since September to organizations that are led by or predominantly serving African Americans, together represent $542,000 in support of African American arts initiatives in this fiscal year.   

ArtsWave board of directors has just approved 18 grants and projects in the new African American Arts grants pool, which is designed to strengthen the capacity for arts presenting, producing, programming and instruction at organizations led by or predominantly serving Black Cincinnatians. Offering these new, dedicated grants is one way that ArtsWave is working to increase the sustainability of organizations that focus on the preservation and advancement of Black arts and culture.

The awards went to Art at the Piano, Avondale Community Arts Association, Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theater, Christian Ministries Inc./House of Joy, Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios, Cincinnati Boychoir, Cincinnati Music Accelerator, Elementz, It’s Commonly Jazz, Jazz Alive, Juneteenth Cincinnati Inc., Learning Through Art Inc., PAR Projects, Q-KIDZ Dance Team and Revolution Dance Theatre.

Twenty-two eligible submissions were received and reviewed by a panel of 10 business and community leaders, 80% of whom were African American. These panelists made award recommendations to ArtsWave’s board that unanimously approved them. “It was inspiring to see the variety in the grant proposals and the levels of commitment, creativity and impact that are being shown by African American artists in our community,” said Dr. Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State University, chair of the panel and ArtsWave board member 

Alecia Kintner, ArtsWave president and CEO, notes “Though these new grants for local African American Arts organizations have been in process for some time, it’s particularly meaningful to make the award announcements on Juneteenth. ArtsWave looks forward to working with the leaders and visionaries behind these projects and making future investments in Black arts and culture in the Cincinnati region.”

The grants were made possible by gifts from ArtsWave’s Circle of African American Leaders for the Arts in the 2020 ArtsWave community campaign, plus significant support from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.   

Additional dollars for this program were allocated from ArtsWave’s Arts Vibrancy Recovery Fund launched in May to support the post-COVID restart of the arts sector, a $300+ million industry employing nearly 10,000 and forecasted to be one of the last locally to recover.

The African American Arts program was launched in January with a celebration and a two-part plan: more regular opportunities to experience leading Black artists from around the country on Cincinnati’s premier stages through the new ArtsWave series Flow and dedicated resources to build capacity and scale the impact of Cincinnati’s Black-led arts organizations through this new African American Arts Grants Program.

In addition to these initiatives, there was a recent dedication of a new street mural on Plum Street, near City Hall, that was produced by a total of 60 to 70 artists in teams, each painting a letter in “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” with all artists taking part in the exclamation point at the end. ArtsWave has supported this initiative with more than $35,000 in artist fees.  To help fund cultural diversity efforts like these through ArtsWave’s Arts Vibrancy Recovery Fund, go to

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