The Arts Meet Tech – #StartupCincy's First Arts Hackathon

artswave-hackathon2It was a busy weekend here at Union Hall. We saw Cincinnati’s first ever arts hackathon. And it was
amazing. Over 100 people and 11 teams all got to hack their way through challenges presented by Cincinnati’s arts organizations.

Things got kicked off Friday night when the individual arts organizations pitched their challenges to the crowd.

Arts Check-In and Loyalty – Using geodata and existing resources such as, create a mobile app that would allow people to find art and arts experiences near them and then check in, rate and share those experiences.

Mobile Arts Education and Engagement – Capture people’s inspiration by and engagement with the arts by building a digital way for them to learn more about the artist(s) and issues presented as well as follow the artist(s) and discover more work by them.

Connection People Through Arts – People often want to go to an exhibit or performance but don’t want to go alone. Give people a digital way to find and connect with people who have similar arts interests.

Personal Art Curation – Capitalizing on the Cincinnati Art Museum’s large permanent collection, which will be digital this spring, build a tool that would allow people to curate and share their own art exhibit.

Cincinnati Arts Tracker – Many Cincinnati artists and arts organizations create and perform new work that then goes on to great acclaim and wide appeal elsewhere. Build a solution that would allow people to track Cincinnati premieres and artists.

Creating a Cincinnati Arts Experience – Help people pair arts events and experiences with other Cincinnati establishments and attractions, for example, suggesting a great restaurant – based on food-type, proximity and atmosphere – with a showing of a new play.

Creating an Interactive Arts Experience – Use technology to enliven the lobby space before and after performances to immerse people in the arts experience and allow them to interact and engage in new ways with the work being presented.

Building a Patron Data Profile – Use social media posts and pictures to build patron profiles and to discover behavior patterns and preferences among visitors. Then, take that information to target new audience members and to help guide and focus programming.

The teams then self sorted and got to hacking. After a long, exhausting weekend the eleven teams pitched their ideas for a panel of judges. And the solutions were as wide ranging as the challenges.

We saw an IoT solution from SensaCloud that can activate and engage patrons in theater lobbies, a personal art curation platform from MyCAM that allows users build and curate their own art collections using the Cincinnati Art Museum’s digital gallery and many other great solutions to challenging problems.

artswave-hackathon3While each team had compelling ideas, Wave took home first place. The team created a “tinder
for the arts” that allows users to swipe left and right to favorite art experiences in their city. The secret sauce – the app allows you to swipe up to get more information about the artist, ticket prices and pretty much anything else you’d want to know about that particular experience.

Cincinnati has an amazing art scene – which is no secret. If you talk to anyone from Cincinnati long enough you’re bound to hear them brag about the amazing cultural institutions we have. But arts organizations have problems. With so many things screaming for our attention and an emphasis placed on immediacy, it’s difficult to get people invested and engaged in experiences that are subtle and that take effort to extract meaning from.

Which is why it was an amazing experience to see two communities come together and use their skill sets to help solve problems for organizations that define what it means to be a Cincinnatian. Culture is what makes us laugh and cry. It brings us together through the emotions it evokes and allows us to find common ground.

We’re a prideful city but without art and culture we lose the story around that pride. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s keep telling our story and using technology to do it. If there’s one thing common across all of Cincinnati’s communities it’s that they’re inviting and welcoming and open to new ideas.

So to all the teams that competed – don’t let this weekend be the last time your ideas see the light of day. And to anyone who read those challenges and thought I know how to solve that reach out, find like minded individuals and get to building. If you don’t know where to start, our doors are always open.

Let’s make sure we leverage every resource we have and continue to make Cincinnati a great place to live with a great story to tell.

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