Sunday, February 16, 2003

Tarbell proposes funding for OTR arts community

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A plan to jump-start an Over-the-Rhine Community of Arts and Artists through capital investments and improvements was unveiled Thursday by City Councilman Jim Tarbell at a meeting of council's arts and culture committee.

The five-year plan has a goal of investing $1 million a year in eight districts of Over-the-Rhine. This year efforts would be concentrated in the Art Academy Campus district (surrounding 12th and Jackson streets, where the Art Academy plans to relocate in 2005) and the Pendleton neighborhood.

The elaborate mixed-use plan was unveiled before a packed council chamber filled with artists, advocates and power brokers. .

"I'm saying with conviction that we're going to do something . . . different here," says Tarbell. "We're creating a new district. The money spent between Race and Walnut will tie the east and west sides of Over-the-Rhine together."

The Community of Arts and Artists plan acts on the recommendations of several reports issued in the past 12 months, including the "Center City Strategy" by John Alschuler and HR&A Consultants and the Comprehensive Over-the-Rhine Plan, and it coincides with the upcoming rollout of the Cincinnati Cultural Trust.

The initial funding, about one-half of the city's 2003 allotment for capital improvements in the arts, could be used for building expansion and renovations; forgivable loans to qualified artists, making it possible to buy living/work space; financial support to real estate developers who create affordable living/work space for artists; and technical assistance for artists and small arts-related businesses.

Tarbell says it's possible that the city could modify zoning codes to include artist living/work space in Over-the-Rhine and that there is potential for the same kind of one-stop center for information, application and assistance.

Details are purposefully not specific, says Tarbell, as he waits for proposals from artists and developers. "I'm waiting to see who applies and how they want to use the money."

Tarbell adds that property developed by artist-owners "would be beyond my wildest dreams."

The plan must go before council for approval. Tarbell will present the plan formally within the next few weeks, before the arts and culture committee's April 17 meeting, when art capital improvement grants will be announced. The presentation also will feature Minneapolis-based Art Space, a national leader in developing artist live/work districts.

Proposals must be submitted by March 15 to: Councilman Jim Tarbell, City Hall, Room 350, 801 Plum St., Cincinnati 45202. Tarbell also encourages artists and arts organizations to submit complementary proposals to the Cincinnati Arts Grant Program. Information: 352-6228.


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