Teach a child to dance and he or she may develop a passion that puts them on the stage. Or at least the appreciation that puts them in the audience.

Put a brush in the hands of a child and foster appreciation for art.

Cincinnati's museums, dance and theater companies embrace the young with outreach programs to schools, family-friendly spaces where children can sing, dance and create, summer camps, classes and enrichment opportunities that sweep parents along on the adventure.

The skills taught "” discipline, problem solving, commitment, expression "” are those that will be used for a lifetime, whether the child becomes a dancer or an actor or a business professional with a keen appreciation for the arts.

Art Museum

Go ahead, touch it. The free, no reservation-needed Art World weekends at the Cincinnati Art Museum encourages children to touch objects, explore books, work with interactive displays and design a piece of art to take home. The current exhibition, "Inside the Artist's Studio," also offers a sculpture studio. Or download the scavenger hunt at www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org as a way to explore the museum.


Parent-assisted classes begin at age 2, a true pas de deux, at Cincinnati Ballet's Otto M. Budig Academy. From there it progresses to those exceptional young people who come from around the country to study year-round with the goal of dancing professionally.

The list at the academy is long "” from summer programs to classes for home-schooled students "” and doesn't even scratch the surface of opportunities the organization offers to engage children. CincyDance! provides free lessons and dance attire; performances are given at schools and events, including the recent Alice in Wonderland Tea Party with families from the Cure Starts Now, that included instruction, backstage tour and performance.

It's all about creating a love of dance, says Nichole Hess, operations manager of the academy. Once a youngster experiences ballet and the process, they may develop "a love and appreciation for the arts."

The focus and discipline of studying dance can translate into success as an adult, no matter what path a person might take.

Contemporary Arts Center

On the sixth floor of the downtown building, the Unmuseum is available during regular business hours for hands-on opportunities to create art. Materials are provided and there's plenty of counterspace to put your little one to the task after he or she is inspired by the gallery of interactive art. Programs on Thursdays and Saturdays are just part of the offerings for families.


Fully-staged musical programs are performed for thousands of students and families through the award-winning touring program of the company. Staged at schools and community sites that include churches and bookstores, outreach also includes Opera Raps "” "lively talks on all things opera."


Settle down on a purple cushion at Playhouse in the Park's Rosenthal Plaza and watch your child be mesmerized by storytellers, marionettes and musicians in the Rosenthal Next Generation Theatre Series. Details at www.cincyplay.com. Chairs available for adults.

The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati offers programs to bring kids to art and art to kids including the series MainStage at the Taft for children as young as 4; ArtReach theater productions for schools and other sites; and Learning the Craft programs for arts training.