NEA Chair Rocco Landesman Visits Cincinnati

September 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

Rocco Landesman, the eccentric and acclaimed Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts visited Cincinnati on Tuesday, September 28, and spoke to a packed house at the Ensemble Theater in Over-the-Rhine about his vision of a revitalized NEA impacting communities across America. Mr. Landesman’s background includes owning 5 Broadway theaters, having produced numerous hit Broadway Musicals, having owned three minor league baseball teams, being a part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds and a frequent gambler of Horse-racing.

Famous for his Alligator skinned cowboy boots, Rocco, after having visited Cincinnati “at least a hundred times,” visited Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood for the first time. Home to tens of thousands of German immigrants in the late 19th century, Over-the-Rhine had become one the nations most dangerous neighborhoods in the late 20th century before its recent (and still ongoing) revival that has centered around the arts, the city government, and private developers. In his speech, Rocco used Over-the-Rhine as a prime example of the NEA’s new focus to work closely with other government departments such as HUD, HHS, and DOT to revive urban and neighborhood centers with a focus on cultural institutions. Having been introduced by friend and Reds owner, Bob Castellini, Rocco’s speech was followed by a panel discussion that included Jack Rouse from Jack Rouse & Associates, Mary McCullough-Hudson from ArtsWave, Victoria Morgan from Cincinnati Ballet, amongst others.

Overall, the afternoon was a great success for the local arts community and the city of Cincinnati in general. Moving forward, the city and its various arts groups should keep in close contact with Mr. Landesman as he hoped to bring national attention and “put a spotlight” on the renaissance underway in Over-the-Rhine.

-Jon J Harmon

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§ One Response to NEA Chair Rocco Landesman Visits Cincinnati

  • […] About a year ago, Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, came to Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati for a discussion between several local arts leaders concerning how art impacts the community which it serves. His visit came at a very interesting time for Cincinnati with the Fine Arts Fund announcing their re-branding as ArtsWave only a week before his arrival in Over-the-Rhine. The combination of Rocco and the newly "impassioned-for-the-community" ArtsWave in OTR was no coincidence and the symbolism was made very clear. Over-the-Rhine is a historically crime-ridden area of Cincinnati, but developers and arts organizations have been on the move for several years to change that, hoping to turn the area around with business and culture. Both Rocco and representatives for the community noted the changes that various art organizations have made within the Greater Cincinnati Area and throughout the nation. The idea is that through strategic placement of funding through the NEA and funds like ArtsWave, impoverished areas can see a rebirth through rich economic development, an idea that Rocco has recently ramped up quite a bit. […]

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