This weekend's Tidal hackathon could be the start of a beautiful tech/arts relationship

Cincinnati’s tech innovation ecosystem collides this weekend with its robust arts community to devise new solutions for some of the region’s largest arts organizations.
Tidal: Art x Tech Challenge is a problem-solving hackathon that brings together different sectors of the community to innovate with others and come up with solutions to improve how arts organizations connect with their audiences.
The April 8-10 event is organized by ArtsWave, Cintrifuse and Fifth Third Bank with the help of Cincinnati’s startup community.
“This is a great collaboration, the whole thing,” says Hillary Copsey, Director of Communications and Marketing at ArtsWave. “Tidal is a synthesis and a showcase of all the exciting things happening in Greater Cincinnati right now. All the stuff that is good right now in our region, Tidal is connected to it in some way.”
Even the origins of the event come from the crossover between the innovation and arts communities. One of the main organizers, Chris Ostoich, has been active in the Cincinnati startup community as an entrepreneur himself — his company Lisnr in fact was born in a hackathon — and serves on ArtsWave’s Board of Directors.
For Ostoich, Tidal is not only a way to bring together these two worlds but a venue for the tech community to give back to and get involved in arts in Cincinnati. The hackathon allows innovators to participate in a different way from monetary donations, meaning it can engage on a deeper level than simple philanthropy and it can involve individuals who can’t always contribute fiscally.
“It was a question of ‘where do my skills fit in?’” says Ostoich of his time on the ArtsWave board. “I felt like nobody in my circle was hearing about ArtsWave or these arts organizations. I’m of the mindset that if you want to engage people in Generation X and following, you have to give them opportunities to contribute. They want to feel like they had a hand in building something.”
So Tidal does just that by giving technologists, product developers, marketers, designers and anyone with a problem-solving skillset a chance to contribute to building solutions to real challenges Cincinnati arts organizations face.
Hackathon agenda
Beginning Friday night, teams of innovators will come together to solve eight challenges identified by local arts organizations. The challenges include creating digital interactive lobby experiences, connecting theatregoers with each other, allowing people to follow Cincinnati artists around the world and much more.
Tidal is still taking RSVPs for participants. More than 200 individuals have signed up so far, with event capacity set at 300. Once the challenges are presented Friday evening, participants will be able to self-select into teams based on the challenges they want to work on. Teams will work in Cintrifuse’s Union Hall space in Over-the-Rhine on Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, each team will present its solution and one team will be named the winner. Tidal will provide prizes to the winning teams as well as arts performances for participants like the band Multimagic on Friday night.
The teams will also have the help and guidance of volunteers and coaches from Fifth Third Bank throughout the weekend. According to Sid Deloatch, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, the company sees Tidal as a new way to express its longstanding support of the arts and make use of its tech expertise as the bank transitions to a primarily technology-based company.
“This is a unique gathering of interests,” Deloatch says. “We thought we could help, we wanted to help and we felt we could give back to this community.”
Organizers are excited to see what new ideas and solutions come out of this weekend’s work. They hope the hackathon is the debut of an annual event.
“I love being first,” Ostoich says. “I would love if, five years from now, we can say, ‘This is the community where arts and tech collide with one another.’ Nobody else owns that. We absolutely have a right to do that based on our history and our momentum in this space.
“I’m thinking, five years from now, can we expand on the work that’s happened? What I love about these sort of events is that you never know what’s going to come out the other end.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.