Washington Park the epicenter of Over the Rhine location in Cincinnati, Ohio there are several events that are scheduled for the summer of 2021, and residents are ready to enjoy great music, food, family, and friends. Ashlee Thurmond, an attendee of the event stated “It’s just great to be out with friends…something that I thought would never happen again.”
A year ago, the very park was empty all events canceled as the Stay at Home Order was in place by Governor DeWine in April of 2020. To combat the rising cases of COVID-19 any businesses that was not considered essential were closed. This included bars, restaurants that have indoor dining and events such as plays, concerts and any large gatherings.
This not only took an emotional toll on residents as social distancing and mask became a requirement but the damage to the Arts Community financially as there was not a clear sight of when cities were able to reopen. According to Arts.gov arts and culture contributes to 4.5% of the United States annual GDP and $877.8 billion dollars annually. Americansforthearts.gov reported COVID-19 caused 95% of events were cancelled, 31% of reduced artistic employment and a loss of confidence that many organizations could recover heading into 2021.
The Cincinnati Arts Access Fund (CAAF) was established to provide relief for local artist established by the Cincinnati City Council this gave to relief to 200 eligible artists who earned 25% of their income through their art to receive relief grants of $1000. Also, ArtsWave a major staple in the Cincinnati Arts community partnered with the City of Cincinnati and Duke Energy to provide $400,000 in pandemic relief to local artist as well in efforts to help local artists keep a living wage. There are also similar grant programs that were also created across the US, such as the LA Arts Recovery Fund in Los Angeles, California.
On July 2, 2021, Friday Flow a free event held weekly in Washington Park was in full swing. From 6:00p-9:00p residents gathered to hear Tiffany Bryant with Vibe 5 and Marla Brown perform giving life to the quiet Washington Park. This event and many others indicate that artist in Cincinnati and across the United States are on the pathway to recovery however this will not come without the collective efforts of local communities, governments, and the public. Washington Park has events scheduled throughout the summer to support local artists.