CoSign pairs Sign Museum, Northside for streetscape makeover

While you never get a second chance to make a first impression, sometimes you do get a second chance at funding an innovative project that could transform a community, beginning with its storefronts.

The CoSign project is just that. What started as a broader grant application to ArtPlace America for several city neighborhoods became more personal for Northsiders after the city-wide application went unfunded.

Undaunted, partners in Northside and the American Sign Museum, with funding from the Haile/US Bank Foundation, are moving ahead with the project.

What better way to draw shoppers to Northside’s eclectic streetscape than creative, coordinated signage?

As part of CoSign, local businesses, visual artists from across Cincinnati and professional sign fabricators will design and install a critical mass of new signage along Hamilton Avenue, with an expected launch date of Nov. 23, this year’s Black Friday.  

CoSign will fund most of the costs for commissioning, permitting, fabricating and installing the signage.  
Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager with the Haile/US Bank Foundation, explains the appeal of supporting business/artist collaborations.  

“We wanted to do multiple things at once,” Avner says. “Help the sign museum, help local business districts gain vitality; and give the creative sector of Cincinnati more opportunities to make a living.”  

Northside’s business district and enthusiastic community support made it a logical pilot location.

As the primary grant recipient and fiscal sponsor, the American Sign Museum will provide content specialists by staffing two training workshops in August for artists and business owners. The project also pulls from the organizational talents of ArtWorks, which will help coordinate the artists and their work.

The museum will also assemble a judging panel to review and decide upon the best signage proposals from business/artist teams. The brand-new sign museum space at 1330 Monmouth Street will house the new signage before it is hung on Hamilton Avenue.  

Little Things Labs, a social/cultural innovation idea laboratory that problem-solves with municipalities to create better places to live and work, is assisting the Haile Foundation with CoSign’s development.  

Josh McManus, lead inventor at the lab, sees the Sign Museum as an integral partner.

“Our hope is not just 10 signs but a newfound attention to the benefits of great signage,” McManus says. “That’s why the American Sign Museum is such a perfect partner to work with on this project.”

CoSign will be documented so other communities can replicate it and broadcast their own creativity and collaborative spirit through signage.  

Do Good:

• Look: For a call for artists to participate in this project; contact ArtWorks for more information.

• Visit: The American Sign Museum and enjoy its new space and interactive signage displays. 

Like Northside on Facebook to keep up with the project and other activities in the neighborhood.

By Becky Johnson
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