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Stimulus Proposal Would Help Bring Back Arts, Blink

The Blink light festival is likely coming back to Cincinnati next year thanks to federal stimulus funding. Mayor John Cranley and Artswave announced Wednesday a plan to use $11 million from the American Rescue Plan for the arts.

In addition to a million dollars for Blink, Cranley is proposing a $6 million emergency stabilization fund for performing arts organizations.

"To get them through this COVID winter and so they can have theater productions later this summer and this fall, and to survive to that moment," Cranley said.

ArtsWave would manage the emergency fund. Board Secretary Rhonda Whitaker Hurtt says the region's arts sector employs 10,000 people across 225 organizations.

"This shot in the arm – and no pun intended, or maybe there is a pun intended; hopefully, as the mayor said, you're all getting your shots – it means so much to the arts and our community," Hurtt said. "The fact that the arts are leading the series of recommendations being made seems fitting in the grand scheme of life as we know it."

ArtsWave 2021 Campaign Chair Terry Horan says the region lost an estimated $100 million in arts funding over the past 12 months.

"It's amazing that we have not lost a single arts organization in our region – that we're aware of – given the hardship of the total shutdown," he said.

Horan hopes to match the $11 million in stimulus funding with $11 million in private donations.

Cranley's proposal includes:

  • $6 million emergency stabilization fund
  • $1 million for Blink 2022
  • $1 million for outdoor performances in 2021
  • $1 million for museums
  • $1 million for the Clifton Cultural Arts Center building project
  • $1 million for ArtWorks youth mural projects

The proposal is subject to city council approval along with plans for the $292 million the city is expecting from the American Rescue Plan.