Sunday, January 5, 2003

You can't fight City Hall

Shaping culture in 2003

We may live in West Chester and Fort Mitchell and Norwood and Newport, but on a national map, the only name we see to identify our region is "Cincinnati."

Where do metropolitan areas succeed without a healthy central core?

So while the city may account for less than 20 percent of the regional population, the choices made at City Hall matter.

Mayor Charlie Luken and City Council make their first serious commitment to arts and culture in 2003. It's not as serious as Indianapolis, which invests $5 million in marketing alone, but it's a sea change from a decade ago, when council considered eliminating arts allocations from the budget.

Officials are weighing the possibility that a viable arts scene can make a city more attractive to young workers. The region desperately needs to find a way to maintain and build a young workforce. The state, the county and city are losing their young adult populations at a rate that is outpacing most of the nation.

The 2003 city budget includes $2.2 million in capital improvements for the arts. Almost one-third of that is committed to the Taft Museum of Art, which reopens in autumn, and to Cincinnati Opera. Funds will go toward the Art Academy's plan to move into Over-the-Rhine.

Watch for Cincinnati Ballet to find a different funding stream in the city budget to shore up its West End operation.

These investments are intended to leverage new business and new residents, help enliven downtown, act as a potential anchor for the comprehensive Over-the-Rhine Plan released in 2002 (where one of last year's investments, in the Empire Theatre at Vine and Liberty streets, will come to life in spring.)

This will be a vital year in the city's relationship with the arts. The expectations are enormous (and short-term, probably unattainable) - but if the cultural sector pulls it off, it could be the beginning of a prosperous relationship.

25 forces that will shape culture in 2003
1. The big economic squeeze
2. Clear Channel's dominance
3. Suburbanites: Will they roam?
4. The plea for racial healing
5. The media's message
6. A whole new ball game
7. Edgy art center opening
8. Tall Stacks rolls back
9. Will tourists go home happy?
10. How Fine Arts Fund carries clout
11. You can't fight City Hall
12. Laura Long: Downtown force
13. The CSO's growing empire
14. Rosenthals' big impact
15. Northern Kentucky development
16. Museum Center's main man
17. Lobbyist Weiland
18. UC at crossroads
19. The Nederlanders make a comeback
20. MidPoint: Rebuild the city on rock 'n' roll
21. The Schuster Center alternative
22. Another public art project goes to bat
23. The brain drain
24. Local film community gains focus
25. Dancing around visa problems
The wild card of 2003: War
2003 dates to keep in mind

DEMALINE: The arts
KENDRICK: Alive & Well
Get to it!