Contemporary Arts Center: ’08-’09 Exhibition Season

The 2008-2009 Exhibition Season, at the CAC, will be another great one. The CAC’s Chief Curator, Raphaela Platow, describes the upcoming season as “an opportunity to see ground-breaking moments in sculpture, painting, film, dance and multimedia, including new and site-related works.”

The season boasts artists like the 89-year old Austrian painter, Maria Lassnig, who will have her first U.S. exhibition; Mexican artist Carlos Amorales who will take part in the first collaboration with the Cincinnati Ballet in a site-related performance; the first museum exhibition of Donald Sultan’s early linoleum paintings; and the first-ever museum show anywhere for the Japanese painter Aya Uekawa.

You can become of member, of the CAC, for as little as $25/year with a Student or Senior Membership. All memberships get you exclusive discounts at the CAC store, a subscription to the CAC’s CENTERBEAT newsletter, 2 guest passes, and invites to some of the coolest parties/exhibits in town.

From left to right: Donald Sultan – Cantaloupe Pickers, 1983; Carlos Amorales – Black Cloud, 2007; Aya Uekawa – A Euro Lover, 2006; Maria Lassnig – Couple, 2005

Shaking up SORTA

This past week Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution that proposed a restructuring of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transportation Authority (SORTA). SORTA, as it currently exists, operates the Metro Bus Service and is primarily funded by the City of Cincinnati.

The City of Cincinnati currently dedicates .3% of its annual earnings tax (roughly $43 million) to the operation of the Metro Bus Service. This amounts to about 90% of the total operation costs of what is a regional transportation system. This is where the problem is with the current SORTA makeup.

Cincinnati pays an overwhelming majority of the costs, but does not also see an overwhelming majority control. Additionally they are essentially the only financial contributor to this regional system. In order for this regional system to truly flourish all the parties need to contribute financially and have representation that matches their contribution. This is just what the resolution calls for.

The resolution looks to “reward jurisdictions that invest in public transit a proportional share of control over the governing body in order to incentivize and reward public investment in public transportation.”

Essentially this resolution would automatically bring more entities to the table than now and it would also shift control to those who contribute the most. The board will consist of at least 11 members (no more than 19) with one representative from Hamilton, Butler, Warren, and Clermont Counties with the City of Cincinnati also being allotted one representative.

From there the rest of the board will be made up based on how much each of those entities contribute to the annual budget. The kicker here is that if a given entity makes up greater than 50% of the annual budget then that jurisdiction can appoint additional members, to the board, until they reach a majority control (if they do not have one already).

Seems to make a lot of sense and it is shocking that this isn’t the way our current system works. John Cranley and the other members of City Council should be commended for their work on this particular effort as Cincinnati moves towards the creation of a better regional transit system.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati: ’08-’09 Season

The Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has announced their 2008-2009 Season. The lineup includes six different works ranging from contemporary theatre award-winners, as well as, some Cincinnati favorites.

Three of the works have been nominated for Tony Awards. Grey Gardens has been nominated for 10 including Best Musical. The Seafarer and Gem of the Ocean have both been nominated for several (4 and 5 respectively) awards and are both nominated for Best Play.

In addition to those goodies you’ll have the opportunity to check out Alice in Wonderland (a musical retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic story), Mauritius, and Don’t Make Me Pull This Show Over: Dispatches From The Frontlines of Parenting.

Quit pandering, do what’s right

City Council appears poised to not roll back the millage rate for Cincinnatians for the first time since 2000. The current millage rate (4.53) generates roughly $29-million a year for city coffers. The roll back essentially keeps that number flat from year to year.

Last year’s roll back saved the average homeowner $1.39, while it would have collectively generated millions for the City. These millions of extra dollars could be used to help stabilize the City’s budget and improve its credit rating. Additionally the City could look into providing more services to its citizens ranging from public safety to neighborhood improvements.

Interestingly enough there are still four members, on City Council (Monzel-R, Ghiz-R, Berding-D, Cranley-D), who believe it is a better idea (politically I’m sure) to roll back the millage rate and possibly even freeze it where it stands. Interestingly enough John Cranley (one of two Democrats in favor of the roll back) has also made repeated statements about the importance of investing in our neighborhoods and public safety. Chris Monzel is the most outspoken on this topic (only council member not on the Finance Committee) and describes the five others on council as, “hungry wolves at the public trough.”

It would seem to be a better strategy, for the politicians, to look at what is ultimately in the best interest of its citizens rather than pandering for future votes. The City’s finance department, City Manager Milton Dohoney, and five members of council seem to agree. Lets take the $1.39 hit for what is ultimately best for our city.

For some reason this issue reminds me a lot of the proposed Gas Tax Holiday – may score up some new votes, but ultimately it is not in the best interest of the public.

City Hall image (by Greg Hume) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

OTR Ambassador update

About a month ago Vitality Over-the-Rhine, a group tasked with making resident/business driven initiatives reality, started signing people up for a new Volunteer Ambassador Program in Over-the-Rhine.

Since that time Ambassadors have started showing up on the streets of OTR. Ambassadors were spotted at the GoOTR 5k and Findlay Market. There are nearly 50 people signed up for the program dedicated to improving Over-the-Rhine. This group is made up of students from UC, XU, and the Art Academy…it is made up of residents of OTR and Downtown…business owners, community leaders and activists.

Volunteer Ambassadors after the GoOTR 5k – Image provided by Queen City Survey

Shirts will soon be on display at a variety of locations throughout OTR including Park + Vine. These locations will serve as satellite sign-up locations for the program. Monthly social gatherings have been arranged for volunteers and community members, and most importantly Ambassadors are hitting the streets and making a difference.

Not sold yet, there are a host of OTR businesses offering special discounts and offers to Ambassadors. Simply put, if you’re wearing the Ambassador t-shirt you get special discounts all over OTR. Meet new people, get connected in Over-the-Rhine, and help make a difference in one of Cincinnati’s greatest neighborhoods. Become an Over-the-Rhine Ambassador today!

The next gathering will be at 6:30pm this Thursday (6/5/08) at Mr. Pitiful’s (GoogleMap). Come out to hear more about the program and sign-up. Feel free to bring a friend along even if they’re not necessarily interested in signing up.

Join the Vitality Over-the-Rhine Facebook Group