Election and The Arts

Election season and arts seasons kick off just after Labor Day, soI love this time of year. Voting and enjoying the arts are two of myabsolute favorite things in life. It's no coincidence that

Election season and arts seasons kick off just after Labor Day, so I love this time of year. Voting and enjoying the arts are two of my absolute favorite things in life.

It's no coincidence that politics and the arts are two key areas of coverage in CityBeat. Maybe I modeled the paper after my own interests, or maybe I work at the paper because of what it covers. Mutual attraction perhaps.

In any case, while we're looking ahead to the new arts season in late August it's also a good time to take stock of Greater Cincinnati arts and culture in general. A bunch of us did just that Aug. 24 at Below Zero Lounge in Over-the-Rhine.

CityBeat hosted the 12th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Theater, handing out trophies to the best actors, directors, ensembles, tech wizards, plays and musicals of the just-completed 2007-08 season. The evening was a mix of local theater people of all walks — from Playhouse professionals and CCM professors to community theater veterans and aspiring twentysomethings — in a fun, relaxed bar setting.

Many in attendance were back in town after performing or working elsewhere over the summer, so it was a great chance to catch up with colleagues and peers — something that rarely happens when you're going full bore all the time at your own theater company.

I was really struck, as I am every year at the CEAs, by how supportive these folks are of each other. They compete for audience attention and sponsorship dollars and we have them compete for awards, but their attitude of "We're all in this arts boat together" always blows me away.

(If you're interested in who won what, check out the CEA web pages at www.citybeat.com/cea.)

A similar collaborative mindset is evident in the two main stories in our State of the Arts section.

Jane Durrell moderates a roundtable discussion among six key people involved in education and outreach efforts at local arts and culture organizations. They certainly compete for a slice of the public's time and wallet, but they also realize how the whole process of building arts audiences is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

I interview Margy Waller, who's been hired by the Fine Arts Fund to engage the public about how it uses, understands and supports the arts and culture throughout the region. It's clear that the revenue and funding pie for the arts has to grow instead of being cut thinner and thinner, and the combination of the Fine Arts Fund and Waller — director of a policy think tank in Washington D.C. — offers hope that there finally might be a breakthrough on this tricky problem.

Elsewhere in this issue our arts writers offer highlights of the coming fall seasons in theater, visual art, dance and classical music and Jason Gargano surveys the changing landscape of the art-house movie business.

Looking back and looking ahead, one overall point is obvious: If you elect to make the arts a part of your life in Greater Cincinnati, you won't be disappointed.

Contact John Fox: [email protected]
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