ArtWorks News

ArtWorks expands its program model to launch yearlong employment through creative studios

CINCINNATI, Ohio (Thursday, February 2, 2023) – ArtWorks, Cincinnati’s regional leader in public art, is excited to announce new employment opportunities for local emerging artists. ArtWorks is now providing young artists, ages 18 – 24, the majority of whom come from underserved backgrounds and live in Cincinnati, with yearlong employment and mentorship through a new creative studio-based employment model.

The program accomplishes two goals: 1) providing consistent, stable employment and support to a diverse group of young emerging creative talent, prepared to join the workforce, and 2) enabling ArtWorks to expand its partnerships with local community partners, as the demand for the organization’s public art and creative services continue to grow.

This new program model represents an expansion of workforce development opportunities in the arts that the organization is well known for – seasonal summer and after-school jobs in the arts for apprentice artists, ages 14 – 21. ArtWorks launched a gallery residency program in 2021 for young artists ages 16 – 24, to provide young artists with new and varied professional opportunities including selling artwork in a gallery setting. Now, in addition to these programs, ArtWorks is employing young artists for a full year in social enterprise and civic design studios.

ArtWorks hopes to help train and retain a creative, diverse, and professional workforce for our community. ArtWorks saw a need for youth at the post-secondary education age to have additional professional support and opportunities. By working in the ArtWorks’ creative studios, 18 – 24-year-olds receive vocational training, can apply their work towards college credit and can build financial stability with a starting wage of $15 per hour for a minimum of 12 hours per week.

“This is a strategic expansion for ArtWorks, enabling our organization, along with our partners, to make a greater economic and social impact through our mission. Employing artists for yearlong employment is a great mission leap for ArtWorks,” explained Colleen Houston, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks. “We will be launching many studios over the coming year(s). But naturally, the first studio we launched was a mural studio, given the growing demand for public art.”

Since the launch of ArtWorks’ mural program in 2007, ArtWorks has painted more than 250 large-scale outdoor murals, primarily through its summer program. Year-round mural studios enable ArtWorks to accommodate many more mural requests and diversify mural locations. “We are now saying ‘yes’ to painting murals inside corporate offices, restaurants, and for festivals,” says Houston who projects this program alone and will add an additional 30 murals annually to the company’s growing portfolio, in addition to those painted every summer.

The development of this program is possible because of ArtWorks’ signature partners, the City of Cincinnati and P&G, who provided seed funding for the first two years of this program. The City of Cincinnati allocated $500,000 of American Rescue Plan funds to launch the program. Between 2022 and 2023, these funds will support ArtWorks’ launch of three creative studios, 50 year-round jobs for young artists and five year-round jobs for Professional Artists who serve as Studio Managers.

“The City of Cincinnati couldn’t be happier to support these creative studios by ArtWorks.  The program represents yet another way we are working to retain creative, innovative, and diverse talent in our area,” Mayor Aftab said. “The skills participants gain from these programs are applicable when they are looking for their first real job, setting them up for further success in the future.”

The creative studios enable young artists to gain professional experience far beyond an eight-week job. Studio artists take on client communication, presentation, design, project and time management skills, budgeting, collaboration, and more—all skills which can transition into future careers.

“Since the inception of the year-round mural studio program, ArtWorks has been able to give our emerging artists unparalleled exposure to the commercial art world,” explained Jim Tucker, Mural Studio manager. “While continuing to develop the mural production skills learned in the ArtWorks seasonal apprentice program, our Mural Studio Artists are becoming proficient at working directly with clients, completing administrative duties, managing projects, collaborating with peers, and perhaps most excitingly, gaining the opportunity to design the murals they produce. Their voices matter. I am very excited to see what the future holds for the mural studio after such an exciting start.”

In addition to the Mural Studio, ArtWorks also launched its first-ever Civic Studio in December 2022 which employs 10 young artists and one Civic Artist-in-Residence to work on civic and equity projects using art as a tool to facilitate dialogue and change. In fall 2023, ArtWorks is excited to diversify artistic mediums and outcomes for clients with plans to offer a Graphic Design studio, employing 10 more young artists. Applications for this Studio will open this summer.

The Mural Studio has already made a splash in our city. The studio artists recently produced interior and exterior murals for many exciting businesses, nonprofit partners, and festivals including BLINK, Western & Southern Open, Bethany House, The Filson Queen City Kitchen & Bar, Messer Construction, and Red Bike to name a few. The murals are designed by professional artists and mural studio artists to ensure that clients can choose from diverse styles. For example, for BLINK, this team fully executed a mural in Findlay Market designed by internationally acclaimed artist Shantell Martin.

“This is an exciting shift to accept more creative collaborations across our community and create more meaningful job opportunities for local and diverse young artists,” said Houston.

Businesses and communities interested in commissioning art to beautify their space or who are in need of creative design services, including brand and logo work, should submit a project commission form by clicking on this link Partner with ArtWorks | ArtWorks Cincinnati.