Two years ago, no one in Greater Cincinnati knew quite what to expect from a new event called BLINK®. Its scale took our breath away: 100 artists, 35 installations, 22 light projections, 30 entertainers and 8 new permanent murals brought unimaginable vibrancy to the streets. As many as one million residents and visitors were there to see it unfold.
Now, nearly two years later, BLINK will return October 10-13. In 2017 it was full of promise; today, the positive impacts of BLINK are welcomed back. ArtsWave committed early on to be the "Illuminating Sponsor" of this year's event. We made that decision because BLINK delivers on every goal outlined in ArtsWave’s Blueprint for Collective Action for the Arts Sector.
There's no question that BLINK puts Greater Cincinnati on the map. In the months leading up to October 2017, national media outlets like The New York Times touted BLINK in particular as an example of the vibrancy of our region's arts. This year, Architectural Digest listed Cincinnati alongside places like New York City and Istanbul as one of five “Top Design Destinations" because of the event.
With that notability on a national stage comes a stronger sense of place for those who live in our region. Research from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that those who engage in the arts are more likely to be civically engaged within their community. To optimize this, BLINK partner ArtWorks has been working with regional arts organizations like The Carnegie, Contemporary Arts Center, Behringer-Crawford Museum and more to host BLINK Make & Takes, where participants can create their own light-up BLINK bling to wear during the event. By engaging residents in the months leading to the event, the BLINK creators are helping connect our community.
As BLINK brings artists and audiences from around the world to our region, there is an opportunity for all of us to come together and experience a unique, shared moment. That's how the arts can bridge cultural divides, spontaneously. It's also something that BLINK artists and organizers work intentionally to make happen. For example, there's been an intentional effort to include diverse groups in the parade and to select a cadre of diverse mural artists from all over the world. There is also a deliberate effort to tie in to the ArtsWave-led collaboration POWER OF HER, with women-led projects. BLINK’s installations will carry messages of inclusion, such as a giant rainbow symbolizing Pride, traversing the Ohio River. The Roebling Suspension Bridge itself will not only be lit up, but it will "sing" to both Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
As further evidence of BLINK’s power to create community connections and vibrancy — the vision behind ArtsWave’s Blueprint — the 2017 event enlivened the neighborhoods of Over-the-Rhine, Findlay Market and the Central Business District. New murals by diverse artists permanently adorn building walls and add to our city’s outdoor gallery. With record-breaking numbers attending, businesses saw an enormous influx of visitors. Notably, not a single police incident occurred during BLINK in 2017. In 2019, BLINK’s footprint gets even larger and more neighborhoods will be activated.
An event as large as BLINK is an ideal opportunity to inspire creativity and learning in all of us, but especially our region’s kids. Of the 85 groups participating in the kickoff parade, 18 are student groups and 7 are local high school marching bands. Three Apprentice projects organized by ArtWorks will also participate. Another ArtWorks Apprentice project features a complete art installation. Apprentices have been learning about design, electronics, light and shadow and much more. They'll have the pride of seeing their work on display for what is likely Cincinnati’s biggest cultural audience.
As we countdown to this year's spectacular, uniquely Cincinnati light-and-art celebration, we look forward to the illumination of the myriad positive benefits of engaging in the arts. If you want to be part of it, you can! ArtsWave will be running guided tours during BLINK, and we're looking for tour guides now. Learn more and apply at artswave.org/tours. We’ll see you October 10-13!
BLINK is a trademark of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr.,/U.S. Bank Foundation exclusively licensed by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.