ArtWorks Cincinnati

Funding Received: 2011
Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 19, 2011

ArtWorks launches Springboard, a program designed to strengthen the business behind the artist.

For 16 years, Cincinnati based arts non-profit ArtWorks has been making Art Work. Literally. We connect artists of all ages with opportunities in the arts through inspiring apprenticeships, community partnerships and the creation of public art. We pair apprentice artists between the ages of 14 and 21 with professional artists to engage communities while making outstanding public art. Artists of varying genres are put to work and get paid for creating, while learning how to be accountable, how to work with a team and how to capture a crowd through public speaking. Over the summer, when the weather is best for installation and kids are out of school, ArtWorks’ payroll explodes to nearly 200 people. These are talented creatives dotting the Cincinnati landscape with beautiful murals, sculpture, glass installations and street art.

A visit to Create Here, a non-profit in Chattanooga back in 2010 challenged ArtWorks to ask the question, What other ways can we support creatives in Cincinnati and deepen our reach within communities? How can we help translate passions into sustainable businesses that make our city one-of-a-kind?

We need to do more to support right-brained individuals with great ideas and tremendous technical skills. These people leave our academic institutions with either little or no entrepreneurial training, yet artists tend to be more entrepreneurial than others. Chattanooga’s business planning program for creative entrepreneurs and artisans, SpringBoard, seemed like a no brainer…a natural extension of our work and a way to potentially solve another problem. We could help fill vacant storefronts in city neighborhoods with creative and exciting businesses that not only celebrate Cincinnati’s tradition of craftsmanship and innovation but make residents and visitors alike swoon.

In June of 2011, SpringBoard Cincinnati launched, enrolling 10 entrepreneurs in a pilot class. Over the course of eight weeks, graphic designers, furniture fabricators, a restaurateur, jewelry artisans, a modern dance company and others began to build or strengthen the framework for their business plans. Some were established businesses and others were still in their infancy. All recognized that they needed some help. They were introduced to attorneys, accountants, real estate professionals and other entrepreneurs who offered expertise and guidance. They formed a cohort that will continue to provide support to one another beyond the initial training – sharing information, collaborating on projects and trading resources.

In early September, SpringBoard’s second session begins for 15 more of Cincinnati’s most creative minds. Bi-monthly round tables start this fall to give SpringBoard entrepreneurs another opportunity to explore in-depth topics like financing, intellectual property rights or taxes with experts. And in efforts to bring our work to the street, ArtWorks will seek out a physical incubation facility that can provide SpringBoarders a collaborative space, with readily available expertise and resources entrepreneurs need to launch or grow their venture.

We are making art work here.