Empowering the arts: Crowdfunding website launches in Cincinnati, allows giving to local projects

CINCINNATI - On Monday, more than 100 apprentice artists smiled for the cameras, as a summer mural-painting project got underway in Cincinnati. The organization behind the project is ArtWorks, and on Wednesday, the organization will unveil a contemporary approach to funding local art projects: crowdfunding through power2give.org.

The  website allows donors can choose a specific project to support and follow its progress.

How does it work? The power2give.org site can accept donations of one dollar or more via credit card or power2give.org gift cards. A $50,000 challenge grant awarded to ArtWorks by The Johnson Foundation will provide one dollar in matching funds for every dollar people donate to projects posted on Cincinnati's power2give.org website. So, if Cincinnati-area residents give $50,000, the funded projects will actually receive $100,000.

Laura Belcher, national director for power2give.org, says the program gives donors a more personal connection to the projects they help fund.

"Using the platform to share stories of impact is key to the success of the posted projects," she said. "Donors want to know where their gifts are going and how they make a difference."

Amy Goodwin, president and executive director of The Johnson Foundation, believes the most compelling aspect of the organization's partnership with ArtWorks is the opportunity to engage the public in support of Cincinnati's arts and cultural assets.  

"By enabling individuals to contribute to the projects and programs of their choice, power2give creates a more engaged community—and helps fulfill our vision for a more vibrant Cincinnati," Goodwin said.

Empowering the arts

When the local power2give.org website went live on June 14, Cincinnati became one of 15 cities in the U.S. to have one. The first power2give.org site was launched in August 2011 by the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte, NC. So far, cities with power2give.org sites have raised more than $3.1 million for more than 1,400 local projects.

The Louisville power2give.org site launched in December 2011 and has raised more than $900,000. The Indianapolis site launched a year and has raised more than $88,000. Many contributors to power2give.org initiatives are first-time donors to the arts and cultural institutions.

ArtWorks President and CEO Tamara Harkavy said power2give.org is a natural fit for the organization.

"It really puts the power in the hands of our community members and encourages them to support the inspiring and transformative work that is popping up all across our rich, cultural community," she said.

Among the organizations with projects on Cincinnati's power2give site are:

  • The Taft Museum of Art
  • Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Kennedy Heights Arts Center
  • The Children's Theatre
  • Pendleton Arts Center
  • The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • Contemporary Arts Center

Additional projects will be posted in the coming months. 

Getting involved

Each project will be posted for 90 days. Donations are tax-deductible and will go to the intended organization whether or not the funding goal is reached.

At a launch party June 19, potential donors can meet the organizers of the projects on the power2give.org site, learn more about their plans, and make donations.

ArtWorks was founded in 1996 to empower and inspire the creative community through employment, apprenticeships, education, community partnerships, and civic engagement. Its vision is to be "a creative and economic engine that unites citizens to transform our region."

In addition to The Johnson Foundation grant, ArtWorks received $50,000 from an anonymous donation to help cover the costs of launching and supporting the power2give platform in the Cincinnati area.

Teresa Hoelle, vice-president of development and external affairs for ArtWorks, said the primary goals of power2give.org are to "engage our community with what we do, help us identify people who are committed to what we are doing, and to help make people more aware of the impact ArtWorks is creating."

She is grateful for the support ArtWorks has already gotten for the power2give.org initiative and hopes other large foundations and corporations will consider providing matching funds. 

Hoelle said power2give.org provides ArtWorks with a new way to connect with supporters and keep them informed about how their donations are being used.

"Sometimes, we'll get a check in the mail or a cash donation," she said. "But until now we haven't had a formal way to follow up and build a relationship."

Next page: ArtWorks in action

ArtWorks in action

Hoelle said many Cincinnati residents may not know what ArtWorks does with its partners throughout the region.

  • Since 2007, the organization has employed more than 2500 youth and 500 professional artists to create 300 public works of art throughout Greater Cincinnati. This includes 57 large murals in locations that are passed by 248 million cars a year.
  • ArtWorks partners with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center on ArtRx art-therapy program for hospitalized children. 
  • ArtWorks SpringBoard creative enterprises program has helped artists, artisans, and creative entrepreneurs launch 22 new businesses over the past two years.

SpringBoard graduate Frances Kroner, who started the FEAST creative catering business, has posted a "Random Snacks of Kindness" project on power2give.org.

The project will provide real-world business training to five ArtWorks apprentices as they develop and launch a limited-edition packaged snack mix. Proceeds from the sale of the snacks will benefit ArtWorks.

If you go: The ArtWorks power2give.org launch party

  • June 19 at The Contemporary Arts Center at 44 E. 6th Street. 
  • Open to the public
  • Admission is free 
  • Doors open at 6 pm and the program starts at 7 pm.
  • ArtWorks is encouraging RSVPs through Eventbrite: https://artworksp2g.eventbrite.com/

Watch: More about ArtWorks

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