• Building a Creative Community

    • 22 March 2024
    • Posted By Ellen Muse-Lindeman

    As I sit down to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve embarked on together over the past two decades, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the Kennedy Heights Arts Center first opened its doors to the world, and 16 years since I joined this incredible organization as its Executive Director.

    Wow, what a ride it has been!

    Photo Credit: Will Jones

    When I think back to our humble beginnings as a grassroots volunteer effort, it’s truly awe-inspiring to see how far we’ve come. From those fledgling early days, we’ve grown into a vibrant, multi-faceted organization that serves as a beacon of creativity and inclusion for our community.

    Now I look around and see: 17 dedicated staff members, two beautifully renovated buildings (each one a testament to the power of revitalization), and a budget of over $1 million dollars. But perhaps even more impressive is the impact we’ve had on the lives of the 10,000+ people who walk through our doors each year.

    Raise the Heights parade © 2015 Malinda Hartong, Hartong Digital Media LLC

    The Arts Center has enriched lives and strengthened communities through such innovative programming as:

    • exhibitions in two galleries showcasing the work of local, regional, and international artists which spark dialogue on social issues of our time
    • a wide range of arts education classes for both youth and adults, and our beloved summer camp program which welcomes over 350 kids each summer for a season of fun, friendship, and artistic exploration
    • arts integration and after-school enrichment programs in three Cincinnati Public Schools which leverage the power of the arts to fuel creativity and learning for 1,000 underserved students
    • our award-winning jazz academy which engages 140 CPS student musicians in grades 4-12 five days a week after-school, who have performed on stages from NYC to Barcelona
    • artist residencies, which pair diverse artists from all disciplines with residents to create collaborative community art projects that foster relationships and bridge cultural divides
    • hundreds of free cultural festivals, performances, and events that expand access to the arts and create more vibrant communities


    Photo Credit: Will Jones

    Even when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of arts venues, Kennedy Heights Arts Center didn’t stop delivering on its mission—we reached deeper into the community to keep creativity alive. Working remotely, the KHAC team distributed 2,780 Creativity Kits to CPS students to keep local youth engaged and learning at home; collaborated with artists and residents to create art installations in the neighborhoods communicating messages of hope, and pop-up art and music experiences on city streets that residents could enjoy safely from their yards; sent Joy Deliveries to area seniors containing handmade gifts created by residents to combat social isolation; and amplified diverse voices in an outdoor, drive-through gallery and online teen ‘zine.


    Photo Credit: Will Jones

    Perhaps what I’m most proud of is our unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion. At Kennedy Heights Arts Center, we believe that art is for everyone, which is why 100 percent of our programming is always accessible to all, regardless of financial means. Whether it’s through free events, sliding-scale-based classes, or community partnerships, we’re dedicated to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the arts.

    As we celebrate this milestone anniversary, I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering support, dedication, and passion. It’s because of you – our incredible community of artists, volunteers, donors, and advocates – that we’ve been able to achieve so much over the past two decades.

    I invite you to join us in raising a glass to 20 years of creativity and community at Kennedy Heights Arts Center by reserving your free ticket for our Cheers to 20 Years Anniversary Celebration on May 9th. Additionally, consider supporting us with a donation of $20 for 20 or a sponsorship, contributing to our next 20 years of building a vibrant creative community.

    With heartfelt gratitude,

    Ellen Muse
    Executive Director


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