Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bringing Artists, Signmakers, and Business Owners Together

Late last year, we began talking with community leaders about a possible grant that would fund bringing together local sign fabricators, artists, and businesses to help design and install signage in three Cincinnati area neighborhoods undergoing various stages of rebirth. Our proposal was one of 127 selected from among 2,200 applicants. We've submitted the full application and are now awaiting a decision, due later this year. This is what the American Sign Museum is all about! Below is the document prepared for a press release. Keep your fingers crossed!

The Creative Intersection of
Artist, Signmaker, and Neighborhood Business

The American Sign Museum is applying for a grant from ArtPlace ( to fund the CoSign initiative. CoSign will enhance economic activity in three artistic Greater Cincinnati neighborhood business districts by pairing artists, small businesses, and professional sign fabricators to design and install unique handcrafted signage for local retailers; and in the process, create an infrastructure to train the next generation of local signmakers.

Description of the Work
Over-the-Rhine revitalization at work
CoSign will design and install a critical mass of new business signage in three active business districts in communities experiencing significant redevelopment and reinvestment - Over-the-Rhine and Northside in Cincinnati, and Covington, KY.
The signage will be created by a unique partnership of a visual artist, a small business owner, and a professional sign fabricator, all coordinated through the leadership and expertise of the American Sign Museum.
The year-long project will commence with a two-day public workshop. Day 1 will educate business owners and artists on the economic value of signage and permitting requirements. Day 2 will feature presentations by noted sign designers and demonstrations of fabrication and installation techniques. Following the workshop, a screening process will match small businesses with visual artists and sign professionals. The artists will meet with the business owners to collaborate on designs that meets the business' needs. The artists will then partner with sign companies to fabricate and install the signage. In some cases an existing historic sign may be restored. The cost of each sign will be split between the business owner and the ArtPlace grant funds. In addition to providing program oversight, the American Sign Museum staff, exhibits, and library will serve as a resource for sign history research and design inspiration. The Museum will also provide a venue for seminars, meetings, and fabrication workspace as its location is less than three miles from the three business districts.
CoSign builds on three neighborhoods' embrace of arts-oriented development, local identities, and local businesses. Over-the-Rhine hosts storied and emerging arts institutions, 3CDC has renewed neighborhood commercial corridors, and the ArtPlace-funded SpringBoard artisan entrepreneurship program in is full operation. In 2010, the Northside Business Association voted to make chain stores a conditional use in their business district to retain its unique local character. The City of Covington, Kentucky, offers a robust package of arts district incentives and in 2007 opened their Artisan Enterprise Center. Lead organizations in each neighborhood will be full partners in this proposal.

Anticipated Impact
The impact of this program will be fourfold: (1) Three business districts will strengthen their respective identities and increase their economic activity with the immediate visual impact resulting from new signage for local businesses; (2) As the appreciation for high-quality handcrafted signage increases, local artists will be trained to become the next generation of local signmakers; (3) The American Sign Museum will leverage its history and expertise to benefit its community directly and economically; and (4) After a pilot phase, this program will be replicated in other neighborhoods and other regions.

Project Status
The CoSign proposal was selected as one of 127 finalists from among 2,200 applicants. A full application was submitted to ArtPlace on February 15, 2012. If the grant is awarded, the initial year-long project will take place between the fall of 2012 and fall of 2013.

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