If you want to be incrementally better, be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better, be cooperative.
In announcing the 11 Northside businesses who have won its CoSign signage design contest,
the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation
is proving that point. Collaboration between businesses and artists, non-profits and city zoning departments, fabricators and museum administrators has succeeded in producing imaginative new signage for Northside’s eclectic streetscape.
After a lively competition between more than 20 Northside locales, the Foundation upped its original plan to fund 10 signs and chose 11 for the project. Business selected are:
Northside International Airport
Tone House Music
WordPlay/Urban Legend Institute
Django Western Taco
Off the Avenue Studios
Market Side Merchatile
The new signs, now being fabricated, will appear first in the American Sign Museum
before their unveiling on the morning of Black Friday, Nov. 23, in Northside. Signs were chosen by a jury who judged the designs based on concept, construction and context.
In five, short months, the Haile Foundation has taken the idea of supporting new neighborhood signage from concept to creation. Initially proposed on a grander scale for three Cincinnati neighborhoods, the Haile Foundation scaled back to just one when ArtPlace rejected its grant proposal last spring. Funding the project on its own with $150,000, the Haile Foundation found itself in a new situation.
“This was a collaborative idea from the start, and a huge learning experience,” says Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager in community development for the Carol Ann and Ralph V Haile Jr. U.S. Bank Foundation (and lead Soapbox provacateur). “We were funding a project AND designing it, which is not normal for us.”
The plan – to pair Northside businesses with artists, who would design signs that conformed to City of Cincinnati signage regulations – required building close relationships with city zoning departments, educating artists and businesses through workshops on those regulations, and working with the American Sign Museum to provide expertise and exhibit space for the signs before their installations on the street.
With its success, says Avner, “Haile plans to share this collaborative idea with granting agencies, other Cincinnati neighborhoods and other cities around the country.”
Find out more:
• Visit: the American Sign Museum
now open at 1330 Monmouth Street for a sneak peek at the CoSign signage before it is installed in Northside.
• Mark Your Calendar: For Nov. 23, Black Friday, when Northside will unveil its new signs at a “shop local” event for the start of the holiday season.
• Watch for: Queen City Projects
video documentation of the project, so that others may learn from and replicate this collaboration in different neighborhoods and cities.
By Becky Johnson