By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Fine Arts Fund raised $10,003,550 in its 2003 campaign, 7.5 percent more than last year.
"This is a vote of confidence for the arts in Cincinnati," campaign chairman A.G. Lafley, chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble Co., said.
In a difficult economy that has arts groups across the country slashing budgets, the largest-ever campaign easily beat its $9.6 million goal.
GE Aircraft Engines in Evendale produced 195 leadership gifts of $1,500 or more, with P&G totaling 103. P&G's was the biggest campaign, totaling $1.7 million from the company and employees.
Arts supporters said the campaign could build momentum for a critical spring, including openings of the new Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum.
"It's the one thing in this town that is certifiably unbroken," said Ed Stern, producing artistic director of the Playhouse in the Park
The City of Cincinnati just approved $2.2 million in arts funding, and there are proposals to establish an umbrella arts group for the region, one that would help market institutions not in the Fine Arts Fund, such as the Cincinnati Museum Center.
The Fine Arts Fund includes eight large arts groups and nine smaller groups. It will announce allocation of the money this summer. Last year, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was the biggest recipient with $2.8 million.
Gifts were as small as $24,350 for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
Lafley said gifts from individuals, big and small companies were up across the board.
"We didn't have to twist any arms," he said. "And I did not write a check at the end."
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