Friday, May 1, 2009

Support Motion to Restore Small Arts Grant program in 2010

On Tuesday, May 5 @ 4pm City Council's Arts Culture and Tourism Committee will take up the Qualls/Cole/ Monzel motion to restore funding to the competitive arts grant program for Small Arts Organizations.

Note that this motion restores only about a quarter of funds once pledged to arts organizations each year. Major arts organizations will continue to go unfunded in 2010 if this motion passes.

What can you do?
Attend and speak at the meeting on Tuesday. Prepare a 2 minute statement about the importance of city arts funding for organizations. Come to Council Chambers by 4pm. Go to the desk on the far right side of the room and fill out a yellow speakers card. Speakers are usually invited to speak before the start of the agenda.

If you can't attend the meeting call or email members of the Arts, Culture, Tourism committee.
ROXANNE QUALLS (author of the motion)

Support this motion but challenge our city to go farther and restore arts funding to both large and small organizations.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Update: 2 more weeks to let the finance committee know you favor fair arts grants

The Finance Committee of Cincinnati City Council decided to table the C Smith photography project proposal until their next meeting in 2 weeks in order to give Mr. Smith an opportunity to appear.

Kate Kern and I (Kristin Dietsche) both spoke at the meeting in favor of restoring the $20,000 budgeted for the C. Smith Photography project to the Individual Artist Grant program for this year.

No one spoke in favor of the proposal.

Council Member Chris Bortz prepared a motion to return the full $20,000 to the Arts grant program so that the funds could be awarded through the established process.

Council Member Leslie Ghiz has already signed this Motion.

Please email or call the other members of the Finance Committee (listed below) and let them know that you support a fair and open arts grant process.

Friday, April 17, 2009

29 Individual Artists Compete for Reduced City Funds

Twenty-nine Cincinnati artists have applied for 2009 City Individual Artist Grants of up to $6,000.

The bad news is that City Council’s last budget slashed funds available for these grants from  $35,000 to only $15,000.  

Council designated $20,000 for a pet project of former Council Member Cranley identified at the time only as the “C. Smith Photography Proposal.” This proposal bypassed the competitive artist grant program open to all Cincinnati artists and yet garnered over half the funds available.

The City Competitive Arts Grant Program for individual artists is a fair and open process where artists’ proposals and past work are carefully reviewed by a panel of their peers for innovation, professionalism, and benefit to the needs of our diverse community along with the artist’s ability to carry out the project.

The C. Smith Proposal bypassed this review, cutting to the head of a line of 29 other local artists who followed the rules and submitted project proposals, budgets, and work samples.

In addition, a report submitted by the City Manager enumerates “concerns” regarding Mr. Smith’s “ability to fulfill contractual responsibilities.” This report is public record. See full text at:

There is still time to fix this!  The Finance Committee of City Council votes Monday (4/20) on spending the $20,000 earmarked for the C. Smith Photography Proposal.

Please email the Finance Committee now and urge them to restore the $20,000 diverted from the grants program to Individual Artists who followed the process and agreed to compete in good faith for the limited funds available to fund the arts.

Please tell council that you favor fair artist grants not earmarks and pet projects.

Better still, tell them in person! Join me in speaking at the start of the Finance Committee meeting,

1:00 pm Monday 4/20 in Council Chambers

ask for a yellow speaker's card at the desk when you arrive

Members of the Finance Committee include:


JEFF BERDING, Vice Chairperson







Sunday, January 11, 2009

Has anyone noticed that Cincinnati City Council voted to eliminate all funding for arts organizations from the 2009 city budget?

Cincinnati City Council voted to eliminate all funding for arts organizations from the 2009 city budget. Reducing arts spending from the general fund by about $360,000.

This includes established support for the major organizations--(symphony, opera, art museum, playhouse, etc) AND the Competitive Arts Grant Program for Small Arts organizations. It also includes an end to the newly established fair-process capital grants for arts organizations.

To make matters worse, Council decided to award most of what little money was left for the arts to pet projects of their own,  undermining the established grant programs which were at least open to anyone eligible who wanted to apply. 

They left the arts community with $35,000 for individual artists, BUT Mr. Cranley decided that more than half --$20,000--of that should go to archive or exhibit the work of commercial photographer, C Smith, a project that would be ineligble for established competitive individual artist grants for up $6,000.

Similarly, all of the arts-related  capital funding ($250,000) will go to the new Clifton Cultural Art Center. a project selected for funding by Roxanne Qualls. 

Council has simultaneously eliminated most of the funding at the same time that they have substituted a granting system based on political earmarks and back room deals. 

Does anybody care? If you do, please post a comment, or better still make a suggestion for how we can organize to show that we do care.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Approach to Arts Planning at City Hall

The Enquirer recognized City Council Member Chris Monzel as someone to watch this year as an influential force in the arts. Mr. Monzel is the new chair of the Arts, Culture, Tourism, etc. Committee of City Council, and it looks like he is off to a great start.

Please read more:
 8 to watch: Chris Monzel

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Your Post Cards Made a Difference!

Cincinnati City Council is about to adopt a 2008 budget that includes maintaining the Arts Grant Programs!

Council Members unanimously supported the funding of the arts grant program for one more year!

In addition, the 2008 Budget Motion, already signed by a council majority, includes a plan to consolidate funding programs for Individual artists and Small Arts Organizations! 
Read the motion here. (see "Miscellaneous" at the very end). 

This is a new attitude toward arts planning, and an essential first step to establishing a city arts program with vision as well as a long-range plan for funding it.

We saved the arts for one more year, but it isn't over yet. 

Funding for our major arts organizations and the competitive arts grant program for small arts organizations is being covered by a grant from the Haile Foundation for just one more year! The city needs to figure out how to fund these crucial programs on its own by November 2008. 

Your postcards showed that people are paying attention to the City Arts policies and that City Arts funding is important.

Please support this new attitude in City Hall so this isn't a yearly arts community project.

Stay connected with the latest developments in City Arts Policy here!
Comment and participate on this blog and discuss this issue with others in your community.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Update 12/12: Council supporting Grant Program! Keep pressure on for long term plan

Most members of City Council have now made motions to either specifically fund the arts grant program for 2008 or to accept the Mayor's budget recommendations which includes this funding!

But don't stop sending post cards! Please add to the stack of mail that tells the mayor and members of council that the arts supporters are paying attention. 

More than this annual handout, we need a City Arts policy and a commitment to Funding Arts programming that is more than 12 months, so we don't have to beg for funding EVERY SINGLE YEAR.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Create a new postcard! Use one of these or recycle an old one!

Share your postcards! Tell us you've sent some!
Add a comment to this post.

The Funding Details--updated 11/30/07

On Friday November 16, The City Manager's Budget included the following recommendation:
(Review the entire document at:

Significant Program Changes 
Title: Eliminate Arts Grants Program 
Budget Amount: ($216,120) Fund: General Fund FTE: -1.8 
This represents the elimination of the Arts Grants program within the Recreation Department.  
The City will no longer be involved in the competitive artist grants, and the Arts Consortium 
will no longer receive budget dollars to help offset its costs. 
This decrease in funding is recommended due to the limited nature of General Fund resources.  
The decrease amount is net of personnel resources in the amount $10,830 needed to fund sixty 
days of employment in 2008, prior to the separation of the full-time employee. 
p. 339 City of Cincinnati 
Recommended 2008 Operating Budget Update


The Arts – Small Arts Capital and Individual Artists Grants Program 

The Small Arts Capital and Individual Artist Grants program supports two key areas of a 

strong arts community, smaller arts institutions and individual artists.  Cincinnati has a 

long tradition of strong support for our arts and cultural community.  This program is 

vital foster a diverse and vibrant arts community by ensuring that our smaller arts 

institutions and our individual artists are strongly supported.  I recommend restoring 

$216,120 to fund the Small Arts and Individual Artist Grants program to provide 

The text posted here before was mistakenly from the mayor's response from LAST year. But the substance is pretty similar.

Unclear here is the mayor's position on Grants for larger Arts Organizations as well as the staff position to support the grants program mentioned in the Manager's budget above. The $216,000 listed here is certainly not enough to cover all of these expenses.

Last year's budget compromise ended in a series of vague agreements and lots of uncertainty about the future of City Arts Funding. Some funding is better than no funding, but when funds are distributed without a fair and predictable process, it makes any kind of arts planning impossible--both for the city and the members of the arts community.

City Council will vote on this budget following a series of Public Hearings. Last year a majority of council members DID NOT SUPPORT the Mayor's recommendation to keep arts funding in the budget. The result was a late night compromise that allowed a private funder to cover arts organization grants for two years while the city worked on a long-range plan to stabilize arts funding and keep the grant program out of this annual budget battle. 

THE CITY has not done its homework. There has been no plan!

So send your postcards. Show council that City Arts Funding is Important to you.

For more on local arts news and to comment on issues in the arts 
visit Sarah Pearce's Enquirer Arts Blog