Spotlight

Call it a resurrection.

The Arts Panel of the Cincinnatus Association is back!

We all know how much the arts mean to our region. No less of authority than the Urban Institute  affirmed this in a 2003 study of five American cities, Cincinnati among them.

“In all five communities,” the report said, “more people have attended a live performing arts event at least once in the past year than have attended a professional sporting event. However, arts attenders are active citizens who participate in a wide range of activities and volunteer for a variety of community organizations….

“In all five communities, arts attenders and frequent arts attenders are considerably more likely to volunteer than are nonattenders—not just for arts organizations, but generally in their community. Although there is clear evidence to support this relationship, the data cannot be used to suggest that attendance at performing arts results in higher levels of volunteerism. Nonetheless, arts attenders display characteristics that are conducive to greater civic engagement and stronger communities.” Click to read more.

The panel was sent to the grave, not so much for lack of need but for lack of a champion. Our new champion isn’t new to the arts, though he is newer to Cincinnatus. Ray Kingsbury – or, more properly, Raymond L. Kingsbury, is the executive director of the Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center in the Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood of Covington.

Ray isn’t the kind of person who sits still. Baker Hunt is always abuzz with activity, primarily community events (music, lectures, classes) and arts education programming (for kids and grownups). Nor was Ray one to sit still in Cincinnatus. He asked the Executive Committee why the Arts Panel had gone away and what it might take to bring it back. Answer: It needed leadership. Ray is providing that.

If you want to join the Arts Panel, contact him: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 859.431.0020

Here’s our Cincinnatus Association Q&A with Ray Kingsbury on the arts and the revived Arts Panel:

Q: You agreed to chair a revival of the Cincinnatus Association Arts Panel. Why is this important for Cincinnatus?

A: Nationally, the arts have taken front stage in the revival of communities. Cities are beginning to recognize that the arts can serve a variety of purposes from civic engagement to economic development. In Cincinnati, we see the impact of projects such as ArtWorks’ murals, or events like Lumenocity.  

Q: Cincinnatus has a panel on local government, panel on education, a panel on inclusion. How do the arts stack up in importance against those ponderous, important topics and issues?

A: As we look back over various civilizations, often art defines or documents who we are. Also, the concept of art education producing a well-rounded individual is not a new one. Art is essential in nurturing a sense of creativity in all age groups. Unfortunately often schools, in the face of budget challenges, determine it necessary to reduce or eliminate the arts. Going forward, accessibility to the arts will be critically important.    

Q: What will the Arts Panel be doing? What’s its first order of business? Longer term, your vision for its work?

A: The first order of business for the Arts Panel will be a clearly defined purpose statement. Before we institute another panel, it is important that everyone is “on the same page” and has “bought into” our direction. Personally, I would also like to consider expanding the Arts Panel to include the term “culture.” This would allow us to weigh in on issues such as funding for the Museum Center, or the Streetcar.    

Q: Suppose someone has an interest in this new panel – what’s the route for being involved both for members and non-members?

A: Individuals interested in joining the conversation about the Arts Panel, can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We promise to be the most fun panel. J    

Q: Cincinnati has reputation as an arts-friendly city. Earned?

A: The arts momentum is gaining. It is starting to play an important role in the region’s community development. An example being culinary arts, a more non-traditional form, has been playing a significant role in the opening of all the new and exciting restaurants. Also, offerings at the newly refurbished Washington Park have drawn people to the city center. 

Q: The big arts organizations are well-known: the Opera, the Playhouse, the Aronoff, the Symphony. You work at a community arts center. How’s our community fare at that level?

A: I work at The Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center in Covington, a 92-year-old art school. Our annual enrollment has grown 100 percent, to 2,500 students, over the last fouryears. The arts are coming on in a big way and not just as a “spectator sport”. People have a real interest in learning, expressing their creativity and getting their hands dirty. Join us at www.bakerhunt.org.

Q: Tell us a short story about the arts, one that inspires you to stick with this work.

A: Here is a note that I received from the parents of a Baker Hunt students: “Our youngest daughter has special needs. This rare syndrome causes cognitive delays, multiple health issues and many times sudden death. Through Baker Hunt, she has found her niche. She LOVES art. Not only can she focus on it but it is relaxing. Art is non-judgmental unlike most of the parts of life that we experience!”

Q: When you have guests in town and you want to show of the city and its arts, what are you stops?

A: Being a big music fan, we usually head for one of the many live music venues or festivals in town. Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, if we play our cards right, could be ranked with places like Austin, Texas or Ashville, North Carolina for our thriving live music scene.  

Q: Are you a left brain or right brain? Are you an artist? It’s obvious you love the arts: Why?

A: Having been an administrator for over 30 years, I’ll need to go with left-brained, or some may say no-brained. My job centers on finance, marketing, fund raising, planning and other similar tasks. I do appreciate the arts, my wife Connie and I are members of a number of arts organizations. It sparks our curiosity.