CINCINNATI -- This is a city rich in arts. We have an opera and a symphony, museums, theaters and choirs.
And getting involved with the arts can expand young professionals' networks and move their social calendars beyond the bars.
Plugging people into the arts is a part of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's HYPE programs, which aim to establish the region as a great place for young professionals to live and work.
"We try to expose people to the fact that we have this robust arts scene," said Jules Shumate, talent attraction, higher education and special projects leader for the chamber.
For ArtsWave, Greater Cincinnati's leading arts agency, one of the key tenets is to use the arts to connect young professionals to the city and encourage them to develop friendships and relationships that will keep them and their talents in the region.
ArtsWave's annual fundraising campaign invests about $10 million in the region's arts each year, supporting more than 100 arts organizations. Two years ago, ArtsWave introduced a YP grant program that specifically supports arts programming aimed at engaging young professionals.
Just showing up is the best first step for getting involved in the arts, said Lou Nazir, who has worked at Macy's for seven years and is co-chairwoman of ArtsWave's YP Committee.
"There's lots of free events … lots of stuff that you can attend without a huge commitment," Nazir said.
People sometimes can be intimidated by art -- What do you wear to an opera? How do you talk about a painting? Will I really like classical music? -- but Nazir said she encourages people to try everything once. CincyArtsGuide.com, created by ArtsWave, keeps track of all the arts events happening around the region and includes a category of events aimed at young professionals. Many of these YP events are free or low-cost; many include light refreshments.
"It's a way for me to have something to do on a Saturday night other than a bar," Nazir said. "You have to start somewhere. … Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't, but either way, you have a story."
To help you get that start, here are nine ways to plug into the Cincinnati arts scene:
There's a good chance you've heard about ArtsWave in your workplace, where the agency runs a fundraising campaign each winter. A $75 donation -- through your workplace’s campaign or online at theartswave.org -- helps to support more than 100 arts organizations. It also entitles you to the ArtsPass program, which provides discounts on tickets and at local retailers and restaurants. Tell ArtsWave you're 40 or younger, and you qualify for the CincyPerks addition to ArtsPass, which means even more discounts and special events. You'll also be signed up for the YP newsletter, so you never miss an event.
Do you like to sing? Join the Young Professionals' Chorale Collective. The organization allows people to join a choir without making a long-term commitment. YPCC began in 2011 and now has a roster of more than 850 singers, ages 21 to 45. They sing in unorthodox locations -- often a bar -- so even your non-singing friends will want to attend the concerts. Sign up here, and you'll be notified of the next six-week singing cycle. Like the Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.
Contemporary Arts Center
Admission is free -- thanks to a bunch of young professionals, incidentally -- so, if you're Downtown, it's easy to pop in on your lunch hour and get inspired. Consider buying tickets to programs like One Night One Craft or Drink and Draw, which always fill up with YPs and usually run about $15. Memberships start at $45 a year and give you discounted program tickets and access to special events.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Here's another place with free general admission. Memberships start at $45 and provide free admission to special exhibits like "A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America" and access to special events. Art After Dark, a free event the last Friday of every month, is aimed at young professionals. Free admission, along with music, food and cocktails, make Art After Dark a great way to spend a Friday night and a good opportunity to check out the museum.
Last season, Cincinnati Ballet hosted Ballet & Beer for young professionals to get a sneak peek at shows and mingle with dancers and artistic staff from the ballet. At the free events, YPs also had a chance to purchase discounted tickets to ballet productions. The ballet plans to host similar events this year, so keep an eye on the website and CincyArtsGuide.com for details.
A $75 donation will make you a friend of the Cincinnati Opera, which has a group, Centerstage, for young professionals. Centerstage offers social events that give young opera lovers a chance to mix and mingle. If you're simply curious to experience something new, consider the opera's New Voices performances at the Mercantile Library. These free concerts will give you a chance to hear amazing music and see a beautiful space hidden Downtown. The next one is June 28.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
CSO Encore is a free program young professionals can join to get discounted ticket packages and invitations to free community events, including happy hours and concert after-parties.
Wednesday nights mean free admission to mainstage shows at the Know Theatre in Over-the-Rhine. (Availability is limited. Last season, about 100 Welcome Experiment tickets were available each show.) Tickets still are affordable other nights of the week -- $25 if you plan in advance, $15 if you're able to snag a seat an hour before a show. In July, the Know wants to help you relive your summer camp experiences, this time with a fully stocked bar. Tuition for the Drink and Play adult summer camp is $225.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The company is opening its new theater on Elm Street this fall. While you wait, check out the free Shakespeare in the Park performances happening all summer all over the region. And if you're really interested in the brand new space, $40 will buy you a ticket to the June 24 Revel & Triumph party. A $100 donation will give you access to special discounts and member information.