Emergency relief fund proposed for Cincy artists, organizations hit hard by pandemic

City Council to vote on emergency funding for artists, creative proposal

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati Council Member Jan-Michelle Kearney wants the city to create an emergency relief fund to support the city’s artists, creatives, performers and neighborhood arts organizations.

Kearney proposed a motion Oct. 6 calling for a one-time city investment of $200,000 using carryover dollars from the 2021 budget. The motion calls for the fund to be managed and administered by ArtsWave, which has “deep expertise” in funding and supporting local art projects and organizations.

The fund would allocate grants in tiers ranging from $500 to $2,500 based on applicants' employment classifications as well as financial need.

ArtsWave would keep track of the grant recipients' demographic information to ensure the dollars are spread throughout the city.

“Cincinnati is known for its culture and art, so we can’t forget our artists,” Kearney said Wednesday.

She argued performing arts venues will continue to need support even after audiences return.

“When theatres start to open again, there will still have to be social distancing on stage with stage crews and whatnot, and they won’t be able to have as many people on payroll as before, so there’s still going to be a struggle in the arts community,” she said.

Many of the city’s artists welcome the fund, especially as restrictions continue to stifle business at venues across the city — the Aronoff Center, Playhouse in the Park, Music Hall and others.

Roderick Justice is the producing artistic director for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.

“We were the first industry to shut down, and we will be the last to return,” Justice said. “So this funding is critical for our industry.”

Justice explains without the fund, his and other arts organizations will not be able to reach as many people.

“It breaks my heart to think that certain people would not be able to receive the joys of what we are able to provide and the benefits of what we would be able to provide,” he said.

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