ArtWorks Cincinnati

Funding Received: 2011
Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 27, 2012

SpringBoard is a program from ArtWorks of Cincinnati made possible in part by an ArtPlace grant of $150,000. The goal is to provide artisans and creative entrepreneurs with business development training and a collaborative work space in the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which will be home to a proposed streetcar line. Ultimately SpringBoard will enliven neighborhoods with these creative industries, retaining and attracting local talent.

In addition to an eight-week business planning course, entrepreneurs have access to monthly Round Tables that cover in depth topics such as small business insurance, intellectual property law, property development and social media tools. This ongoing support of the entrepreneurs continues to strengthen the creative community throughout the region. Thanks to funding from ArtPlace, we are building an incubation space next to ArtWorks Administrative offices. Not only will this place host classes and round tables, it will provide ongoing mentorship and a collaborative work space for entrepreneurs.

Registration for the program’s summer business planning course opens at the end of April. And in early May, another dozen entrepreneurs will complete SpringBoard. SpringBoard has successfully trained 64 entrepreneurs to date.

This month, ArtPlace is asking all of our grantees what they would say are the three keys to successful creative placemaking. Sarah Corlett, Director of SpringBoard at ArtWorks, responds:

Creative placemaking strategies must be authentic and supported. In other words, there must be a real need, understanding and desire to integrate arts and culture activities into everyday actions and environments by local leaders, residents and businesses. Having supporters eager to embrace these placemaking strategies will ensure that initiatives are sustained over time.

In Cincinnati, creative talent is abundant and neighborhoods all over the city are seeking new ways to activate business districts. The City’s rich arts and culture scene, public art initiatives and murals are indications of an appreciation for this sector. Simultaneously, the economic climate has demanded that designers, artisans and artists make a living for themselves. City wide efforts to market and support local businesses are evident year long, especially during the holiday season. So when ArtWorks launched SpringBoard last June, classes filled up quickly. There is a plethora of unique, vacant spaces around the City and no shortage of local talent with great ideas, energy and passion.

The most successful creative placemaking strategies have the right organization, government entity or individual as a leader. When ArtWorks staff and a Board member traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee to see SpringBoard's program in action, it immediately made sense that our 15-year-old non-profit with a history of employing and training the creative sector should embrace this next level of professional development for our constituents. Our history in transforming young artists, professional artists and the city landscape sets us apart as innovative and visionary leaders. After licensing the curriculum from our mentors, ArtWorks set out to adapt the materials and tailor our training program to meet the needs of Cincinnati. Our distinct place demands that we form close partnerships with academic institutions and other resources within the entrepreneurial eco-system. The ArtWorks brand and reputation lent credibility, immediate followers and willing partners to SpringBoard.

Support from multiple sectors fuels collaboration, another instrumental key for creative placemaking strategies to be successful and sustainable. The SpringBoard program does not operate in a vacuum. In a city with a number of entrepreneurial resources, it is important that the work of ArtWorks compliments those efforts. Currently, nearly 20 local firms and non-profits are involved in SpringBoard - lending expertise, connections, financing and mentorship to our entrepreneurs. The 8 week course, the Round Tables that provide ongoing education and the future SpringBoard workspace all provide conducive environments for collaboration and business to business opportunities among our entrepreneurs as well.

PHOTO: Springboard's new incubation space in progress.