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ArtsWave Celebrates African American Artists But Leaves Out Local Groups

norm lewis
Julio Cortez
Norm Lewis, shown here singing the national anthem before the men's singles final during the 2016 US Open, made history in May 2014 when he starred as the first African American Phantom on Broadway's 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, New York-based jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, Lil' Bec with Jon Boogz and Broadway actor Norm Lewis are coming to Cincinnati to show their talents.Throughout 2020, ArtsWave is showcasing national and internationally acclaimed African American artists in its series "Flow." It will have quarterly shows with artists and ensembles from different disciplines, including dance and music.

"Flow is a strategic undertaking for ArtsWave," explains President and CEO Alecia Kintner. "Our 10-year blueprint for collective action in the arts sector has the goals of deepening the roots of Cincinnati residents, particularly African Americans, and bridging cultural divides. Flow is one way that the arts are leading Cincinnati in becoming a more inclusive, future-oriented city."

The organization says it raked in $12,355,136 to support the region's art, making it the sixth year it's surpassed its financial goals.

One group not included in Flow's lineup? Cincinnati artists.

"It's not really broadcasting the different artists and the different talent," Cincinnati photographer Darnelle Holland says. "It feels wrong in the sense of they're not really trying to help them grow." Holland says artists in the area are unique because they contribute to communities and work in multiple disciplines.

View this post on Instagram Quiet nights and bright lights! . . LOCATION: Cincinnati, Ohio . . . #nighttime #cincinnati #ohio #photography #photoart #nikon #cincinnatiatnight #thebridge #deepinthenight #latenights #nighttimephotos #photosatdark #photovibes #cincinnatithequeencity #ohiophotographer A post shared by Darnelle Jamal Holland (@nell_the_photographer) on Apr 29, 2019 at 12:43pm PDT

Kitner says they're giving local artists a platform in other ways. "ArtsWave has a website,, and any artist or performing group can add their content to the site," she says.

Triversity Construction CEO and Flow Co-Chair Melvin Gravely says this is an effort to better support black art. He says he hopes the audience will be as diverse as the city. "It might be new to some, it might be a celebration for others," Gravely says. "But all of it is increasing the demand for black culture and appreciation of that black culture."

Kitner says the organization will continue to include black art once the year-long series ends. She says they want to celebrate all cultures that make the region diverse.