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This post grew out of an issue where I live – Cincinnati, Ohio. If you live here too, I’m asking for your help. If you don’t, please read it anyway and see if there is something like this program where you live. If there is – please support it, vocally! If there isn’t, think about helping to start one!

Two years ago, I was one of seven fortunate artists to receive the City’s first Artist Ambassador Fellowships, which allowed us to bring our work to underserved communities across the city. The program has been cut from this year’s budget, and, in support of yesterday’s opinion piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer by the program’s creator, former City Councilmember Laure Quinlivan, I’m asking you to help get it back in.

My experience as a CAAF fellow shows how big an impact the program has, both culturally and economically. It was a life-changing year for me – it helped me realize a dream I’ve had for more than 20 years, and I got to share the music I love with audiences from Price Hill to Evanston to Mt. Washington. The grant money enabled me to start my own business, Bach and Boombox, and nearly all of it created work for local small businesses, including MartensArtMean Key Video and Seemless Printing.

So, with my grant of $6,000, the city reached hundreds of people with great music, invested in the local economy by creating a small business and providing work for others, and furthered Cincinnati’s reputation as a city that both sings and innovates – if you ask me, that’s a bargain!

The cost of the fellowships is $50,000, less than 1/10th of 1% of the city’s annual budget. The city found funding for this program in leaner times with Laure on council as its champion – surely with the recent news of an $18 million surplus, Council can restore the program. It will give the residents the gift of art while also giving another group of Cincinnati artists the same great opportunity I had.

If you live in Cincinnati, please e-mail all the members of City Council and Mayor John Cranley (addresses are below) and urge them to restore funding for this great program. Please take five minutes to write a few sentences to send to all of them, and forward this to your friends in the city! Feel free to take language from this message and, even better, from Laure’s piece in the Enquirer – she makes a great case for the program and its importance. Thank you – together we can keep Cincinnati “The City that Sings!”

Mayor John Cranley, 352-3250, mayor.cranley@cincinnati-oh.gov

Vice- Mayor David Mann, 352-4610, david.mann@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Kevin Flynn, 352-4550, kevin.flynn@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Amy Murray, 352-3640, amy.murray@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Chris Seelbach, 352-5210, chris.seelbach@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Yvette Simpson, 352-5260, yvette.simpson@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, 352-5270 pgsittenfeld@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Chris Smitherman, 352-3464, Christopher.smitherman@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Charlie Winburn, 352-5354, charlie.winburn@cincinnati-oh.gov

Councilmember Wendell Young, 352-3466, wendell.young@cincinnati-oh.gov

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