Sunday, February 15, 2004

Community makes connection

Reach out to the arts at Sampler weekend

By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Andrew Jennings and his wife, Judy, of Wyoming take part in a Musik Garten class at the Wyoming Fine Arts Center Saturday, as they hold their 18-month-old twins Sophia (in Andrew's lap) and Samantha. Musik Garten is a playful group class where children and parents share musical activities like singing, moving, listening and playing instruments.
Cincinnati Enquirer photos by ERNEST COLEMAN

Members of the Children's Performing Companies dance at the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati in Over-the-Rhine.

Whether it's a behind-the-scenes tour of the majestic Cincinnati Music Hall or an exotic performance from a tribal belly dance troupe, this is a can't-miss weekend for residents of Greater Cincinnati to connect with its art institutions.

But you'd better hurry. The 18th-annual Fine Arts Sampler Weekend, which offers a myriad of free presentations in dance, theater, music and art, concludes today.More than 50 venues in the region are hosting events for all ages.

On Saturday, the Cincinnati Art Museum was packed with families vying to get free tickets for the Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre.

"I got the last ticket for the 1 p.m. show!" exclaimed Avondale resident Ronnice DuBose as she led her 3-year-old granddaughter, Ma'nia DuBose, through the museum lobby.

The sampler weekend, sponsored by Procter & Gamble, serves as the kickoff for the annual Fine Arts Fund Campaign, which last year raised $10 million from more than 45,000 people, companies and foundations in Greater Cincinnati.

The Fine Arts Fund primarily supports the operating budgets of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Arts Center, May Festival and Taft Museum of Art. But it also supports more than 70 smaller arts groups throughout the region.

Chad Seitz of Oakley has attended sampler weekend events for the past two years.

"It's gotten bigger and better each year, I think," said the 31-year-old Seitz, whose favorite event is the Firelytes Steel Drum Band concert at the art museum. The fiery ensemble of percussionists excites audiences with the beat of 55-gallon oil barrels.

The closing event of the weekend is tonight when the Cincinnati Ballet presents the first act of its current production of Romeo and Juliet in the Aronoff Center's P&G Hall. Free tickets will be made available on a first-come-first-serve basis beginning at 3 p.m. at the Aronoff Center box office. The performance will begin at 7 p.m.


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