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ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalist: Circus Mojo


Circus Mojo’s Paul Miller says “there’s no business like show business,” and he should know. He has performed as a clown with the “Greatest Show on Earth,” also known as the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as Off Broadway shows and soap opera gigs.

He is now channeling his inner (and outer) PT Barnum to start a new venture called BIRCUS Brewing Co., which is located in Ludlow. This idea is about 20 years in the making and dates back to when Miller first arrived in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Miller relocated to Ludlow and founded Circus Mojo to offer circus classes, corporate team building opportunities and special events, and to create and run the Circus Wellness Program for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

That same year, Miller also bought a former Ludlow movie theater built in 1946 to provide a home base for Circus Mojo and a venue for homegrown, non-site-specific events and productions. Now known as The Ludlow Theatre, a venue for music, comedy, plays and circus, it was recently named to The National Register of Historic Places.

From 2009-2014, the space was successful as a venue for showcases and events produced by Circus Mojo, as well as a space for private rental until it became the temporary incubator/brewing space for BIRCUS. Today, the space is under construction to better accomodate BIRCUS.

Circus Mojo is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

The "Big Pitch" that Circus Mojo is making is to use the potential $20,000 award to take the plastic kegs that BIRCUS is made in and have them shredded, melted and poured into a mold that will be converted into spinning plates. These plates will be distributed during Circus Mojo's performances and classes, as well as to its nursing home clients and the kids at Cincinnati Children's. 

“The concept of taking our own plastic kegs and recycling them into a product that I have been buying for 20 years is gigantic,” says Miller. “Our kegs that hold our fantastic beer will be transformed into circus props and given away to people who will be entertained by our performers.”

During the Big Pitch process, Circus Mojo will be mentored by Vance Marshall, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Mike Zorn.

“Oh and another thing: Don't be afraid of clowns,” Miller says. “We have existed since the dawn of time and our goal is to make people laugh while subverting authority.”
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How to Attend the ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read the previous profiles of 
Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio and CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC.
 


Creativity and innovation to be highlighted at upcoming Maker Faire


Cincinnati prides itself on local talent, craftsmen and creatives who make, create and hone their craft all over the region. There are designers, artists, homebrewers, screenprinters, textile makers and writes a-plenty, and on Oct. 7 & 8, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will highlight many of these individuals at a "show-and-tell" type event.

The Maker Faire is organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the global Maker Faire network, which was created by MAKE Magazine. Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and is a celebration of the greater Maker Movement. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community by incorporating local crafters, collectors, tech enthusiasts, scientists and more.

In sharing their skills with other community members, makers not only enhance the variability of their craft but also the reach. Maker Faire uses the opportunity to showcase individual crafts among amateurs and professionals alike so that they may continue to pass those skills along to others.

Some of the makers included in this year’s festival are Careers in Welding, Choitek Megamark, OKILUG, OpenHeart Creatures, Project Build It (via the CAC) and Shari the Bag Lady.

For the second consecutive year, the fair will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, and the Cincinnati Museum Center's media relations manager Cody Hefner hopes that the event will push the limits of the location this year and use it to its full potential.

Makers can still apply for a booth to showcase their chosen skill and share what they have learned through their craft. There's a separate event for filmmakers, the CurioCity Series: ShakesBEERean Film Festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

For ages 21 and up, this includes a Shakespearean film festival, opportunities to meet with some of the festival’s makers and some of Cincinnati's finest beers.

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday, the ShakesBEERean film festival or all three can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Maker Faire homepage or Facebook page.
 


Sibling duo brings ancient art of tea ceremonies to East Walnut Hills


Siblings Lily and Max Raphael are the founders of Hearth, a project that creates community through tea and ancient ceremony. You can most often find them at Clear Conscious Movement in East Walnut Hills, where many healers and teachers share a space for their events and classes.

Soapbox sat down for a Q&A with the Raphaels to learn more about how they strengthen and heal Cincinnati through tea.


Why did you choose your location?

Lily: Hearth exists wherever we are. At this time, most of our activities take place at Clear Conscious Movement; however, we also take Hearth to the community, stewarding tea ceremonies at yoga studios, retreats, nature hikes, festivals, art installations and most recently, the Covington Farmers Market.

 

Max: Doing ceremony after ceremony at Clear, we’ve witnessed not only how tea can positively impact the space it’s in, but also all the people who share it. While we hope to expand beyond just tea with Hearth, I think the stillness and connection these ceremonies offer — on so many levels — really captures the overall spirit behind our project.

 

What services do you offer?

Lily: Inspired by our travels in Southeast Asia and Latin America, the goods we offer capture the beauty, culture and human connection we have found in the many places we have gone. These goods root back to all things cozy, providing a sense of home and respite while on the journey. Currently, we offer a selection of teas that Max came across while practicing tea ceremony in Asia. All our teas are clean, organic and in some cases, even wild, and sourced from personal connections to farms and tea merchants in Taiwan and Southern China.

 

Max: Our inspiration to share tea comes from connecting with it as a plant medicine, as I first did while studying in Taiwan. So rather than approach tea as a fancy or exotic beverage, we hope to facilitate a deeper, more personal connection to it, which we’ve found for ourselves.

 

What would surprise people about a tea ceremony? Why would someone want to try it?

Lily: During the ceremony, what I find time and again is that people are surprised by the level of stillness and connectedness they experience through a fairly simple practice. The mere act of sitting in silence and drinking tea allows us time and space to journey inward in a very accessible way that can easily be replicated at home. So much of our time is spent interacting with others, it is hard to find a moment to look inward. Even in just under two hours, it is amazing what one can discover about him/herself while silently sipping a bowl of tea.

 

Max: What’s most surprising is how close everyone feels with one another by the end of the ceremony, even though we’ve never met before, and just spent about an hour or more in silence, not conversation! The ceremony is its own sort of nonverbal conversation; with yourself, with nature and even with others.

 

Actually, the organic flow of it all, and the beautiful responses from people right after it, often catch me by surprise, too. Each ceremony is completely different, even when the same people are gathered. In the Japanese tea ceremony, there’s a saying that captures this: ichi go ichi e, "one chance, one encounter." One meaning of this is that any ceremony (or really any kind of gathering) has its own flavor and essence that could never be duplicated again. This exact assortment of people might never gather again. So tea can help us enjoy this unique time and space together. I usually like to start the gatherings by saying “this experience would not be the same if even one of us weren’t present."

 

How does this ceremony enhance the culture of Cincinnati?

Max: It’s a really special way to spend time with people, whether they’re new or old friends. We have many ways to connect and gather, but so few like this, if at all. To share silence with each other, without it being awkward or rigid, is both rare and meaningful. Most of us already drink tea, and this is just one way to find an even deeper connection with it, and through it, to something beyond tea itself. And the best part is, you don’t have a to be a certain way, or believe in any particular idea. You don’t need to know anything about tea or be a meditator, anything like that. You just sit and drink tea, and without any effort you begin to relax. Your senses gently awaken, and you feel you can set aside the usual masks or armor that some of us need just to get through the day.

 

We’re not sharing tea or the ceremonies to push any ideas, or even to make it into something exotic. We’re just creating a space each time for you to simply be as you are, and take away whatever meaning the experience has for you. To us, this is something so rare and needed not just here in Cincinnati, but everywhere.

 

What rewards you about this business?

Lily: There are so many rewarding aspects to Hearth. I love that it gives everyone an excuse to sit down and connect with each other, and that we have the opportunity to share these very special pieces of our journeys with people in our hometown. I am also grateful that it has brought so much purpose and continuity to what my brother and I love doing.

 


Cincy Stories opens second gallery in Price Hill as part of Street Stories project


The Greater Cincinnati area spans communities across Hamilton County, each holding their own contribution to the city, its history and unique stories.

Last year, community building initiative Cincy Stories opened an unusual gallery in Walnut Hills that created a snapshot of the neighborhood at that moment in history. The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation approached the storytelling initiative, offering a storefront free of charge (for the month June, 2016) to help build the community and allow visitors to the gallery to record their own five-minute story about their lives in Walnut Hills.

As the next project for Cincy Stories’ executive director Shawn Braley and creative director Chris Ashwell, another story gallery opened on July 7 in Price Hill. Made possible through partnerships with the Haile Foundation, LISC, Price Hill Will and Artswave, this gallery is just the second of many future community steps for the duo, as they see the friction between long-time residents and newcomers, as well as economical shifts, that can weigh on a neighborhood.

“Through the work of storytelling in Walnut Hills, an entire neighborhood little league is being started by neighborhood residents,” Braley says. “Cincy Stories will capture the shifting populace and stories that intersect as the neighborhoods develop and varying people groups learn to become neighbors.”

The story gallery is an actual gallery — Braley says to picture an art gallery, coffeehouse and living room all in one. Free food and drinks from local eateries, live music and more are available for attendees, depending on the day. It's a place where people can come together and bridge the gap in what can often be tough neighborhoods, allowing for more understanding and sustainable change.

By sharing who they are through community narratives, people can come together more effectively than just sharing opinions on the neighborhood itself.

Now through Oct. 31, people can stop by the neighborhood story gallery in East Price Hill and share their stories with others. Making it their goal to go where the people are and not wait for people to come to them, Braley and Ashwell will produce the stories tod by community members, as they did in the Walnut Hills gallery last year, and the stories will be published on their website, cincystories.net.

Visitors will be able to share stories in face-to-face interactions as well as in a private story booth. The booth is set up as a small, private tent with a chair, microphone and video camera. Braley and Ashwell then take each video segment and edit it into a three- to five-minute video segment that airs on the television screens in the “living room” area, as well as in conjunction with other videos.

Over time, Braley and Ashwell hope that they can collect at least 20 stories from each of the 52 neighborhoods in Cincinnati. By creating relatable stories, the pair believes they can change communities for the better.

While the grand opening was held on July 7, there are gallery parties every Friday in July from 6 to 10 p.m. Weekly events will also be held throughout the duration of the gallery. The gallery is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at 3117 Warsaw Ave.

Click here for more information about the gallery, Street Stories and the two-year nonprofit Cincy Stories.
 


Fill up on great convo and food! tomorrow as Soapbox goes to Findlay Market


This Wednesday, June 28, it’s all about scale, as Soapbox returns to host Cincinnati’s foremost foodies for the annual Food Innovation Economy speaker series at Findlay Market.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Farm Shed (located in Findlay Market’s north parking lot) and will feature big bites and big ideas from Pho Lang Thang, LaSoupe, Hen of the Wood and Babushka Pierogies.

Wash it all down with craft beer from local favorite The Woodburn Brewery, tangy kombucha from Fab Ferments and a Rhubarb Shrub Punch and signature mocktail from Queen City Shrub made for this one-night-only event.

Click here to purchase tickets for this year’s event, where you'll meet five talented local food producers and hear why it's the right time to scale and how Cincinnati's growing food ecosystem is helping them get there.

All ticket holders will be automatically entered to win two passes to the 2017 Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic — a value of $480! Plus, you'll be partying with a purpose: proceeds benefit Findlay Market, now open Wednesdays until 8 p.m. all summer long.

Come hungry and enjoy the menu as follows:

6 p.m. Check in at the Farm Shed, located in Findlay Market's North parking lot
6:15 p.m. Welcome from Soapbox's publisher, Patrice Watson
6:20 p.m. Food Innovation District overview from Joe Hansbauer, CEO of Findlay Market
6:30 to 8 p.m. Breakout talks and tasting stations

Station #1 (Farm Shed) presented by Findlay Market, featuring:

  • Duy Nguyen, Pho Lang Thang
  • Kombucha pairings from Fab Ferments

Station #2 (OTR Biergarten) presented by Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic, featuring:

  • Suzy DeYoung, LaSoupe; Nick Markwald, Hen of the Woods; Donna Covrett, CFWC
  • Beer pairings from The Woodburn Brewery -"Red, White, and Brew" traditional American wheat ale and "Salmon Shorts Sightings" blonde ale with strawberries and Rooibus Tea

Station #3 (Findlay Kitchen) presented by Findlay Kitchen, featuring:

  • Pierogie/cocktail pairings from Sarah Dworak of Babushka Pierogies and Justin Frazer of Queen City Shrub

Seating is limited, so reserve your ticket today and check out the full schedule of Findlay Market events and featured vendors here.
 


CSO and CCM team up for one-of-a-kind fellowship prograpm


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati have just completed the first year of their innovative Diversity Fellows program.

“Orchestras across the country acknowledge that there are under-represented populations in the world of orchestral music and that the programs to improve representation haven’t worked,” says Christopher Pinelo, vice president of communications for the CSO.

Just as the first class of fellows began their academic and performance work last fall, The League of American Orchestras published a study evaluating orchestra fellowships.

“It’s almost as if this program was designed specifically to address the deficiencies in fellowship programs nationally,” Pinelo says.

“One of the issues identified as a flaw in most fellowship programs is the sense of isolation that fellows experience,” adds Ahmad Mayes, director of education and community engagement with the CSO. “Our program brings in five fellows in year one with an additional five in year two, with the hope that they connect with each other and create a feeling of being in it together. We are also working to ensure that they feel part of the entire orchestra.”

The partnership with CCM is also unique. Each fellow earns an Artist Diploma from CCM — the performance-based equivalent of a master’s degree — while they rehearse and perform with the CSO.

“At first, it was a bit much,” says Fellow Emilio Carlo. “You’re not just a student — you are part of the CSO and we need to keep a level of quality. But I found balance and it was helpful to have colleagues to go to who were in the same situation.”

Carlo’s other Fellows included Diana Flores, Blake-Anthony Johnson, Vijeta Sathyaraj and Maurice Todd. Four of the fellows will be returning to complete the second year of the program. Johnson will not be returning, as he secured a position with the New World Symphony as part of the auditions all fellows are required to participate in during the program.

“What measures success for us is if we are helping these fellows meet the next phase of their career,” says Pinelo. “We are trying to build a supportive environment for them to flourish. They perform with the CSO and Pops on a wide range of materials.”

Auditioning for a professional orchestra is an intense experience, one which the Fellows are more prepared for, thanks to the CSO and CCM.

“My mentor went above and beyond to help me get mentally and physically ready to audition,” says Carlo. “The musical growth I’ve seen in myself and the other Fellows has been fun to watch, and playing with the CSO has been the highest achievement I’ve had.”

The emphasis on real-world experience for the Fellows, rehearsing and performing with the CSO and participating in education and community engagement outreach is a critical part of the program.

“When Peter Landgren (Dean of CCM) came to us about starting a fellowship program, he was drawing on his own experience as a student when he substituted with CSO and the impact that had on his career,” says Mayes. “There is no other fellowship that pairs a degree with professional orchestra performance opportunities.”

As the program, which has been generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, enters its second year, orchestras from around the country are calling to find out how it started, how its working and how it could be replicated.

“The rest of the country is looking to Cincinnati to be a leader in this area,” Pinelo says.

And Cincinnati audiences will hear the benefit of this innovative program as nine Fellows take the stage with the CSO and Pops when they return to Music Hall later this year.
 


Five local artists will showcase their findings about segregation through art


Five artists immersed themselves within the Walnut Hills community to chat with residents and business owners about the issue of segregation and how it’s affecting their community.

The project was initiated by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and is inspired by renowned activist Carlton Turner and his vision of artists as researchers who take their findings to create art that prompts discussion and pursue social justice.

Community members are invited to Cincy Stories at 4 p.m. on June 30 to see the walking exhibit where they can see the interpretations by artists Alan Haley, Michael Ellison, Dyah Miller, Herschel Johnson and Benjamin Thomas.

There will be a break for dinner, and the WHRF encourages people to try the restaurants in the business district. At 7:15, there will be a panel at The Monastery with the artists and community leaders.

According to Johnson, the goal of the project is to empower residents to continue the conversation the artists began.

Here’s what the artists discovered:

“People said they see the kids hanging out with their own race at school,” says Thomas. “And Kroger — it should have been in a thriving place — but people weren’t feeling comfortable to come into a predominately black neighborhood to shop. Businesses close because of that.”

Thomas is using the mediums of aerosol and paint to create “We Are Cincinnati," a mural of four Walnut Hills residents — everyday people without privilege whose portraits will be iconic in nature. Those who attend next week’s event will have the opportunity to see a live demonstration, as Thomas will be working on the mural at the time.

For Ellison, the neighborhood scape has changed. The highway now inhabits his former home, and he rides his bicycle to Clifton to go grocery shopping. He and fellow photographer Miller will display their collection of portraits and places, and at the culmination of the project, will auction their photos off with 25 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Walnut Hills Little League.

Other projects include a documentary, a 3D shield and a partnership with St. Francis de Sales to offer students the opportunity to learn to sculpt. Each artist’s project includes a plan for community building and community betterment, both now and in the future.

“Segregation is a condition,” Thomas says. “It’s really a mentality that’s subconsciously or intentionally placed in the minds of folks because of money, greed, power — whatever it is — and I don’t want to point a finger, but I want to recondition the condition of segregation by introducing people to others and giving platforms to people who don’t have them.”
 


Vintage travel trailers offer chance to camp in a piece of history


Founded in 2014, Route Fifty Campers offers outdoor enthusiasts a unique twist on your typical camping experience. Owner and operator Debbie Immesoete rents refurbished vintage travel trailers to those who want to camp simply, yet with style.

Immesoete says the idea for Route Fifty came from two places: She lives in a small house and wishes she had an extra bedroom for visiting family. This practical consideration, combined with her attraction to retro style travel trailers, fit well. “I fell in love with these lovely trailers from the past,” she says.

Immesoete knew that her business would have to start small, and after saving money, she purchased her first trailer. To help her understand the business world, Immesoete took two classes at Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures).

The classes not only taught Immesoete the basics of what it means to run a business but connected her to mentors, insurance agents, lawyers and other small business owners.

Route Fifty now boasts a fleet of four vintage trailers. Immesoete says that her campers are easy to use but it still feels like you’re camping.

“People tell me they’re done sleeping on the ground,” she says. “They want something simple but they want a bed. These are perfect for that.”

None of the travel trailers have TVs or hot water, but all of them include air conditioning, board games and colorful interiors. Her travel trailer options include:

  • 14’ 1958 FAN: The compact silver trailer can sleep up to four people and includes an adorable yellow kitchenette. Immesoete says this is the only trailer without a water holding tank.
  • 15’ 1964 Winnebago: With the signature Winnebago ‘W’ streak across the side, four or five people can enjoy a sleep comfortably inside.This is the only Route Fifty travel trailer with a Laveo Dry Toilet — the rest don’t have interior bathroom facilities.
  • 15’ 1969 Aristocrat Lo-Liner: Up to five people can camp in this trailer’s bright blue interior.
  • 13’ 1985 Scamp: What the Scamp may lack in size, it makes up for in character. A family of four will fit comfortably in this blue travel trailer.
Renting the campers is a simple process and can be done either online or by phone. Immesoete says that there’s no time limit on rentals, if the calendar permits. She says campers can take the trailers anywhere except the 1958 FAN, which she prefers to keep local. Otherwise, as long as her customers can safely tow the trailers, they’re free to roam in retro style.

To rent a travel trailer for your next camping trip or for more information about Route Fifty, click here.
 

ArtWorks now accepting applications for 2017 Big Pitch business grant competition


ArtWorks is seeking Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky-based creative business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for its fourth annual Big Pitch, a mentorship program and pitch competition for established creative businesses in the area.

The program, designed for businesses with at least a two-year history and located within 30 miles of the ArtWorks office in downtown Cincinnati, selects eight finalists to participate in a 10-week mentorship program. In addition to valuable exposure, each finalist will receive business coaching and help with next steps for reaching their full potential.

The program culminates in a public pitch event to be held in late September where finalists will have the opportunity to compete for both the Grand Prize ($15,000) and and Audience Choice Grant ($5,000).

“This program gives small businesses the chance to take the next step in reaching their dreams,” says Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks' CEO. “We thank U.S. Bank for again offering its expertise this year to this important project.”

2016 winners James Avant (OCD Cakes) and Scott Beseler (The Lodge KY) took home $15,000 and $5,000, respectively. Avant launched Bakeology classes in January and has maintained a 60 percent fill rate. Monthly social potlucks have also helped OCD Cakes to draw in community members to the unique and creative nature of both food and the business.

Avant was also awarded the OTR Chamber "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award, and is now building relationships with local community groups to tackle access to food disparities and ways to make the cooking/baking experience more accessible to a larger number of families in our city.

Avant attributes much of his recent success to ArtWorks’ dedication to local businesses.

“Besides the cash prize, each finalist walked away with hours dedicated to the intentional growth and sustainability of their business, a community of entrepreneurs and friends who want to see the other thrive in their respective businesses, a network of mentors who always want to see you succeed and exposure many people and businesses would pay to have access to,” says Avant. “I'm incredibly thankful to ArtWorks and U.S. Bank for creating a platform to give creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their business, expanded community outreach and actively contribute to the city's ecosystem.”

Beseler is continuing to work on his project, The Lodge. Located in Dayton, Ky., The Lodge is a one-stop-shop for musicians — there's a recording studio, graphic designer, screenprinter and photographer in-house, and it seems that Beseler is adding other amenities every day.

Applications for the Big Pitch are due by June 23 and require a $25 application fee. Finalists will be notified of selection by July 14 and must accept by July 17.

The 10-week mentorship program runs from July 21-Sept. 28. For more information on the Big Pitch, last year’s winners and more, visit www.artworkscincinnati.org.
 


POSSIBLE brings innovative ideas to the advertising industry


In Cincinnati, the presence of business partnerships between large and small businesses is furthering growth and bringing more innovative practices to what used to be a simple advertising build.

Local firm POSSIBLE dares to take on new approaches to more traditional advertising mechanisms. It has more than 1,500 employees around the globe with an innovative vision. Its ideas evolve with the ever-changing digital landscape to provide the full-service advertising experience from strategic planning and e-commerce to web development and analytics.

Among one of its most recent projects, POSSIBLE Cincinnati has taken on an iconic P&G brand for the launch of the ‘Febreze Song Ads.’

The creativity within POSSIBLE’s employee base shines through in these advertisements, which aren’t actually ads at all, but instead, a unique campaign that capitalizes on the growing popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora by creating 30-second song ads for the air freshener brand.

The team at POSSIBLE worked with music industry icons to write, compose and produce original songs that make Febreze sound more like a band than a brand. The ‘advertisements’ blend in with the ebb and flow of listeners’ lives by using popular genres like rap and R&B.

The first #FebrezeSong video was released on Youtube in Aug. 2015 — to date, it has received over 300,000 hits. (Check out the Febreze commercials and jingles.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the Febreze song ads had been played more than 180 million times, and listeners sought the songs out on YouTube more than 1 million times. The campaign also generated a 56 percent higher tap-through rate compared to other ads on streaming music platforms, making it one of the most successful and innovative P&G campaigns thus far.

POSSIBLE is now being recognized for its hard work and creative thinking. The #FebrezeSong ads received special recognition from the 2017 WEBBY Awards, and the campaign recently won “Judge’s Choice” and gold in two categories at the American Advertising Federation’s District 5 ADDY Awards earlier this year.

In June, the campaign will head to the national ADDY Awards, where it has the chance to be named one of the best advertising campaigns of the year.

Other companies and brands that POSSIBLE has worked extensively with include Coca-Cola, other P&G brands like Pringles, Starwood Hotels, Heinken, the MLS app, the Better Homes and Gardens app, Amazon and many more.

To keep up with more projects and innovative ideas from POSSIBLE, visit its website or Facebook page.

 


Food exhibit at Behringer-Crawford examines immigrants' impact on local cuisine


The #StartupCincy scene includes hundreds of entrepreneurs working in incubator kitchens or developing technology around food-based businesses. A new exhibit produced by graduate students in Northern Kentucky University’s Public History Program, Culture Bites: Northern Kentucky's Food Traditions at the Behringer-Crawford Museum explores the impact of earlier food entrepreneurs, with a focus on restaurants and businesses established by immigrants.

“We wanted to talk about how immigrants have shaped our food choices and tastes,” says Dr. Brian Hackett, director of the masters in Public History Program. “What we found was that these outsiders quickly added to the Northern Kentucky mix by not only changing our palate but also our neighborhoods. We also wanted to show how outside becomes mainstream. In the past, Germans, Irish and Catholics were unwanted here, but now they are among the leading ethnicities in our community.”

The last half of the 19th century saw waves of arrivals from Europe fleeing famine and political turmoil, including Georg Finke, who moved from Germany to Covington and established Finke’s Goetta in 1876, the oldest family-run goetta producer in Northern Kentucky.

At the turn of the 20th century, political upheaval and two world wars launched a new wave of immigration to the United States, including Nicholas Sarakatsannis, who left Greece for Newport where he founded Dixie Chili.

“From my conversations with the restaurant owners, most came here because they already knew someone in the area,” says Maridith Yawl, BCM curator of collections. “They settled in Northern Kentucky with these people and opened the restaurants to serve them and others.”

Food, its production and consumption, is something all people have in common. Family recipes, conversations over dinner and cozy kitchens are memories and experiences nearly everyone shares. The exhibit offers a historical and contemporary perspective through the lens of food on a hot-button contemporary issue.

“Food and restaurants break down barriers, creating safe places for people to meet and create understanding,” says Laurie Risch, BCM's executive director.

Recent immigrants from China, Iran and Korea have also established themselves in Northern Kentucky and opened restaurants to share and celebrate the cuisine of their homelands. These restaurants include Mike Wong’s Oriental Wok, Jonathan Azami’s House of Grill and Bruce Kim’s Riverside Korean.

“They have contributed to the community, both in terms of serving food and being good stewards and helping out various local charities and events,” Yawl says. “They have each brought pieces of their homelands to the community. They love to serve friends from their own ethnic groups and also enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds and teaching them about their foods and culture.”

Adds Hackett: “We forget that we are all immigrants, and that immigrants shaped what we are now. Can you imagine Northern Kentucky without Germans or Catholics?”

The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 31, features interviews with these food entrepreneurs or their descendants, as well as artifacts from their businesses, political cartoons, vintage kitchen equipment and accessories and recipes for visitors to take home.

For more information, visit bcmuseum.org.
 


NKY Innovation Network to host writers' networking event May 11


Calling all visionaries, creatives and “writerpreneurs:” got a great idea? Come share it (and discover a few more) at NKY Innovation Network’s IdeaFestival on May 11.

The event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at KY Innovation Network’s headquarters in downtown Covington. Keynote speakers include Roebling Point Books & Coffee founder Richard Hunt and Jack Heffron, award-winning magazine columnist and author of The Writer’s Idea Book.

Participants will be able to join breakout sessions that address five areas of writing: regional, fiction, memoir, poetry and travel/diversity. The event will provide an opportunity for one-of-a-kind networking with members of the local literary community, as well as developers and lenders committed to supporting tomorrow’s creative entrepreneurs.

Attendance is free, but registration is required. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Bank Foundation, with Renaissance Covington and Roebling Point Books & Coffee serving as partners.

Covington’s chapter is part of the 12-office KY Innovation Network. NKY Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) oversees the group’s mission of building a healthy and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Kentucky.

NKY Innovation is located in the one-block area adjacent to Mother of God Church that is known as Covington’s “Innovation Alley” — the cradle of a burgeoning innovation corridor that is home to Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures), UpTech, bioLOGIC, Braxton Brewing and TiER1 Performance Solutions.

“We have a local network that is teeming with creativity and connectivity,” says NKY Innovation Network director Casey Barach. “We are beyond excited to host local writerpreneurs in our space in Innovation Alley for a night of discussion, debate and discovery.”

IdeaFestival was founded in 2000 with the goal of bringing together visionaries and innovators in the Louisville area. Since then, the group has expanded to host IdeaFestival events throughout Kentucky.

To learn more or to register for IdeaFestival on May 11, click here or call 859-292-7780.
 


Drawnversation helps people and businesses communicate without words


MORTAR graduate Brandon Black doesn’t believe we have to communicate with words.

“Words are a useful tool but they’re not the only tool,” says Black, who last year was awarded one of two prestigious Haile Fellowships by People’s Liberty. “Drawnversation means to have conversations through images and pictures.”

Drawnversation provides graphic facilitation and graphic recording for people and businesses looking for new ways to communicate ideas. Black defined graphic facilitation as utilizing drawn imagery and words to enhance a process or communicate an idea, so that people are able to see the ideas in front of them. Graphic recording is the art of capturing communication in a visual format.

By creating the most relevant visual representation of the presented concepts, Black believes everyone can get on the same page.

“Drawnversation is a way of thinking and doing things differently and processing information and creating an equal playing field for people,” says Black. “Even when people use the same words or terms, those words can still be interpreted differently by everyone in the room.”

Using pastels, markers and a giant sheet of paper, Black records and facilitates meetings and presentations for people and organizations around the city.

Interact for Health uses Drawnversation’s unique approach to communication to visually capture their meetings. Program manager Jaime Love says Black’s graphics not only captures the content of the meetings but shows the dynamic of the conversation.

“People are just amazed at what he’s able to capture in the picture,” she says.

Love says there are a variety of different uses for Black’s drawings. Interact for Health displays Black’s drawings in their lobby as a way to encourage and continue conversations around important topics.

“The graphics stand out versus reading something on paper,” says Love. “Brandon does such an excellent job.”

Black hopes graphic recording and facilitation will become a more accepted form of communication.

“If we continue to focus on the model of printed word as the only way to gauge intelligence, we are missing out on a lot of great ideas and brilliant minds.”
 


Chamber's new program to help increase cultural awareness and diversity in region


The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber launches a new program this week called Building Cultural Competence for leaders and influencers from around the region.

“When we did research on overall inclusion in our community for our Diverse by Design report, a key insight was that increasing the cultural competence of our community could be a competitive advantage,” says Mary Stagaman, senior inclusion advisor for the Chamber. “As markets and companies become more multicultural and more global, the ability to work across many identities and cultures goes from 'nice to have' to essential.”

Although some corporate and government entities offer implicit bias training or other cultural awareness classes, the Chamber was starting from scratch in building this initiative. It is unique in that it operates at a community-wide level.

“We worked with a thoughtful group of corporate and nonprofit volunteers to build a prototype program, which is what we are launching May 9,” says Stagaman. “The time seems precisely right, as the need to successfully and respectfully bridge differences in our community and our country has seldom been greater. Our long-term goal is to build a community of leaders who can effectively interact with our changing and challenging world and to have leaders who actively seek to engage and influence others to do the same.”

There is an application process and fee for the program, which will be led by nationally recognized diversity and inclusion experts and cover subjects like the neuroscience of bias, emotional intelligence, building rapport across cultures, conflict resolution and adaptive communication. Participants will also take the Intercultural Development Inventory and receive a one-on-one coaching session.

When the program ends in July, each participant will have developed an individual action plan to take back to their organization, business or community.

“The key strategy is to recruit leaders into the program,” Stagaman says. “While we have certainly attracted people in prominent positions in our region, we also have a wide range of individuals who have strong networks in unique sectors of our community. We believe that by raising their awareness around cultural competence, and giving them tools to be more effective, they will in turn influence others in their networks, creating a magnifying effect.”

The Chamber sought applicants from across the region and different sectors of the community; the inaugural class will begin at full capacity with 30 participants.

“We have a very diverse group with representatives from large corporations, large and small nonprofits, working media, law and law enforcement, secondary and higher education, the startup community, healthcare, real estate and more,” Stagaman says. “The age range of participants is from 26-70, suggesting that we can increase our cultural competence at any stage of life or career."

Upon completion of the pilot program, the Chamber will evaluate the results and determine how to move forward with future iterations of the program.

“The great thing about cultural competence is that it can be learned —it's not an innate skill that we are born with," Stagaman says. "Increased cultural competence can help us retain the talent we need to continue to attract jobs. It can ensure that people in our community, no matter what their country of origin, color, faith and so on, receive appropriate medical care. And it can help us build a workforce that reflects the changing demographics of our country as we reduce bias and increase welcoming people who represent different cultures and identities.”
 


LISNR tech startup partners with CAC for interactive museum experience


Thanks to a new partnership with LISNR audio-technology providers, the Contemporary Arts Center will soon launch a “digital docent” app to help visitors connect more deeply with installations like the current lobby exhibit “Solar Bell Ensemble” by artist Tomás Saraceno, which will run through June 18.

The app will be activated and powered by LISNR and will feature exclusive content, messages and experiences, including a personal greeting from the artist. Visitors can download the app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Pre-loaded content is then unlocked as they explore the exhibit.

“For the visitor, it's about the experience,” says LISNR co-founder Chris Ostoich. “You get to hear directly from the artist, and the app brings to life the exhibit in ways that the physical world won't allow you to. For example, the exhibit that is installed in the lobby is actually built to fly — you can be standing in front of the artwork, and then in the app you can be simultaneously watching video of that same exhibit flying through the sky.”

The idea for the partnership was born from last year’s ArtsWave “tech hackathon,” a problem-solving event that brought together the region’s most talented tech, design, marketing and creative professionals to solve real-time business problems in the arts sector.

“A participant in the event had the idea to use LISNR technology to enhance the visitor experience,” says Ostoich, who co-hosted the event. “We launched version one of the app in the winter and rolled out more formally last month.”

Ostoich and fellow co-founder Rodney Williams started LISNR in early 2012 with four other members of the local startup scene. Since then, the company has raised millions in investments and garnered international recognition, with accolades that include being named among Extreme Tech Challenge’s “Top 25” and Consumer Electronics Show’s “Top Software Product in 2017.”

Similar to Bluetooth, LISNR links digital devices, but instead of relying on radio waves, LISNR’s technology uses inaudible sound waves — a process that proponents say is faster, more efficient and more sustainable, as it requires less battery power than its traditional alternative.

Organizers say the CAC partnership is just the beginning. Whether users are attending a sporting event, visiting a museum or unlocking their car, fairly soon all those experiences could be powered by LISNR technology.

“There are myriad ways organizations can use our technology to revolutionize their business,” says Ostoich. “For example, we are working with arts organizations and venues to re-invent their ticketing process. Instead of spending money on paper tickets or expensive bar code scanners, a Smart Tone could be used as an audio ticket. We replace scanners, paper and the need to wait in line at the box office.”
 

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