Kennedy Heights Arts Center – Challenge Semi-Finalist

Kennedy Heights Arts Center during their Annual Art Parade.

Our adaptive challenge

Because grants and charitable contributions are limited and cannot solely support our growing operating costs, and our commitment to inclusivity precludes us from charging admission or collecting program fees from all participants, Kennedy Heights Arts Center will therefore create new, sustainable ways of earning revenue through social enterprise.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

In order to not only sustain our current activity but to grow and expand, it is vitally important that we develop reliable sources of earned revenue. In order to be true to our mission and to create the kind of inclusive atmosphere we envision, we need to look to other sources of earned revenue beyond the traditional admission, ticket, or program fees.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

In the past, we have assumed that we could provide free programming for all and support our total operating expenses through grants and contributions. Kennedy Heights Arts Center was very fortunate to receive substantial support from one individual donor in the early years of the organization, but that donor recently passed away. Our relationship with this “angel” has been both a blessing and a curse – it enabled us to grow quickly and develop a full range of programs, but caused a certain amount of reliance on one source of income which is not sustainable for the long-term.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

While we are fortunate to have a committed and growing base of donors, and foundation grants are a great source for one-time program support, it is difficult to support all of our operating costs on charitable contributions alone. Healthy and successful nonprofit organizations have diversified sources of support that include a balance of contributed and earned revenue. Furthermore, investors are increasingly expecting nonprofits to become more self-sustaining.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

We are seeking to develop new sources of earned revenue through social enterprise – that is, a business operated by a nonprofit with the dual purpose of generating income by selling a product or service in the marketplace and creating a social or cultural value. We are working in partnership with two other nonprofits to redevelop a vacant, former grocery store adjacent to our facility. This opportunity will allow us to add 9,000 square feet of space, which could be utilized for social enterprise. Ideas include creating rentable artist studios and a multi-purpose event center. We realize that the business strategies we are focusing on are top-of-mind solutions and we would like to continue to explore other, more innovative strategies.

Our vision of success

Kennedy Heights Arts Center strives to be the anchor of an increasingly vibrant, diverse, inclusive and creative community. Our goal is to produce high-quality art programs that: promote interaction across generations and all cultural and economic groups, spark community dialogue, create opportunities for joyful discovery and collaboration, and make the arts affordable and accessible to everyone. Our vision of success includes being fully inclusive and engaging a very diverse audience, as well as achieving financial sustainability for the organization so that we can continue to serve our community.

Participants in a Kennedy Heights Arts Center program.

Serving more than 3,500 people annually, Kennedy Heights Arts Center offers rotating art exhibitions and arts education programs for youth and adults, among other outreach programs and community events. As a community-based art center, KHAC has a special focus on Kennedy Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods.

  • Helen Haberstroh

    Building on its 9 years of successful summer youth “camps”, this community arts center is demonstrating flexibility in meeting the time availability and interest of students by offering varying lengths of art camps with excellent staffing and small groups. Each year’s theme is imaginative and includes a visit to or by a working artist in a particular field … what an inspiration!

  • The art camp program is fantastic. Kennedy Heights Art Center’s creative and innovative staff and volunteers are responsible for community out reach programs that are outstanding and gets better and better each year.

  • As President of the Kennedy Heights Community Council I think i can speak for the neighborhood when I say we are SO thankful for the KHAC – they have become a true anchor for the community and we highly encourage supporting them!!

  • Bet

    As a teaching artist at Kennedy Heights Arts Council I have seen whole families raising their kids in the creative environment there, learning about themselves, their community and their environment. They experience summer camps offering many art forms. All ages visit gallery shows featuring local, regional and national artists. They participate in a variety of city-wide efforts. They can participate in typical as well as unusual classes in everything from the manly-faceted visual arts to international drumming to how to write and produce a play!

  • Ernie Barbeau

    As Chair of the neighborhood’s nonprofit urban redevelopment corporation I can attest to the Arts Center’s significant impact on the quality of life of our neighbors and the vitality of our business district. The Center has creatively developed a wide range of programs and services,such as the arts camp. That creativity has served to increase the reality and perception of our diverse neighborhood’s revitalization, distinctiveness and uniqueness. The Center’s successes of the past does set the stage for a bright future.

  • Ally Nurre

    As resident of Kennedy Heights, KHAC ARTIST in RESIDENCY PROGRAM has allowed me personally to experience a variety of arts over the last three years and feel enriched by the opportunity ….out of the box. I recommend it to all.

  • jim zarnowiecki

    Great community service and community building: enhancing the lives of neighbors thru the arts

  • Zahirah Goines

    My son took a few classes at Kennedy Heights Art Center when he was younger. They always did a great job, and he never wanted the classes to end!!! They’ve been a huge asset to the community!!!

  • Patty Bullard

    Go!!!! Kennedy Heights Arts Center

  • Lesa Price

    They get my vote. Great Organization.

  • K.K. R-Shaw

    KHAT does a marvelous job with its classes and camps for all ages and different ethnic backgrounds. We are honored to have them in our neighborhood.

  • Yana

    The Kennedy Heights Arts Center has been a tremendous asset to the Cincinnati area. They have wonderful programming and bring in super artists-in-residence for all different kinds of art (including writing and music). There is no doubt that the community has benefited from activities for all age groups.

  • Judy Kidd

    I am so impressed with what they have done in just a few short years. I remember the building at firstmwith holes in the roof and multiple structural problems. The support of the community has been great, the grounds wonderful. As a member of an art center 60 years old in Tennessee. I am amazed at the progress, programs and community outreach.

  • Patty Bullard

    VOTE for Kennedy Heights Arts Center
    GO TEAM!

  • Mary Anne Phalen

    Great institution

  • The beginning of the KHAC is amazing and exceptional. A group of neighbors of the old run down funeral home on Montgomery Road were concerned that the building would be razed and the beautiful large spacious lot would be sold for a used car lot. They put their own money up for collateral as a loan, to put a down payment for the purchase. Then through organization, grant writing, smart management and donations they achieved the unbelievable. They continue operating in the same manner expanding their exceptional services to the community. The KHAC has been a spark plug for further community development in the same manner. The K H KEDEVELOPMENT CORPORATION is developing the Kennedy Heights Cultural Center, and DISTRICT A is promoting an Arts District along Montgomery Road through Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights. These efforts are also bearing fruit. There are more artists and businesses locating in this area now. I would not have believed this could or would happen in these two neighborhoods in such a short time. I am privileged to be the managing partner of the KENNEDY MONTGOMERY BUILDING next to the KH Art Center . I’ve seen it all first hand

  • Joanie Weidnr

    I love the Kennedy Heights Art Center. It has so much to offer and I personally have taken a number of art classes, all so enjoyable and educational. A real asset to our neighborhood!

  • Sandra Geiser

    Kennedy Heights has always reached out to a wide diversity of artists and community members. They deserve a monetary vote of confidence.
    Sandra Geiser