Creative Expansion

MidPoint celebrates the arts with carnival and film fest components

click to enlarge MPMF Box Truck Carnival
MPMF Box Truck Carnival


s the MidPoint Music Festival continues to grow, festival organizers are finding new ways to give audiences opportunities to interact with independent creatives in various fields. This year, that extends to the visual arts in ways that are new and unexpected. Not only will ArtWorks’ Box Truck Carnival be returning, but for the first time ever MPMF will also include a film festival component.

This is the second year for ArtWorks’ Carnival, and this year festival goers will find even more quirky interactive activities to pass their time between shows.   

A returning participant to the Box Truck Carnival is a group who has already spent a good deal of time exhibiting artwork outside of any traditional gallery space: parProjects. Jonathan Sears and Chris Hoeting since 2010 have pursued building an arts and education center for Northside constructed primarily out of repurposed shipping containers, so exhibiting in box trucks should be no big stretch. The curatorial duo created a three- to four-person game for their exhibition space, whereby players race remote controlled cars through a hand built track.

Although they are a nonprofit organization, parProjects’ interactive installation will be a “pay to play” game. “We encourage enterprise,” Sarah Corlett, ArtWorks’ SpringBoard Director wrote via email. “For some emerging entrepreneurs, the Box Truck Carnival presents an opportunity to share their product and their identity in a temporary marketplace,” something fledgling business owners might never have had the chance to do before.  

In addition to both being ArtWorks’ initiatives, SpringBoard plays a major role in organizing the yearly event. “We see the Box Truck Carnival as another platform for artists and creative entrepreneurs to build their brand and their businesses, by exposing their creativity to new and larger audiences,” writes Corlett. By pooling from the nine-week business development course, “dedicated to sparking creative enterprise,” Corlett has a built-in resource for citywide artisans and entrepreneurs to include in the Carnival.

SpringBoard graduate Leslie Kochanowski will experience her first community event when her company, Loose Parts Project, participates in this year’s Box Truck Carnival. “SpringBoard is all about finding your place within the community and connecting with available resources. It really taught me how to put myself out there, share what I am passionate about and connect with others that are excited about the same,” Kochanowski writes.

While there might be other festivals in town, the Box Truck Carnival allows SpringBoard graduates like Kochanowski a singular opportunity to reach a creative audience. Loose Parts Project’s mission is to encourage the development of creativity and collaboration through community-based child-directed play experiences, and “MPMF is a great opportunity to showcase this type of play experience and allow adults as well as children to enjoy creative play,” writes Kochanowski. 

But it’s not just visual artists that are participating in the Box Truck Carnival. There will be a miniature improv theater inside a truck, run by the popular comedy troupe OTRimprov. Lucius Limited (another SpringBoard graduate group) creates a Hyperbolic Healing House to “transport us to a more enlightened astral plane” and video documentarians The Queen City Project will be on hand for festivalgoers to share their MPMF experiences on film. And they won’t be the only filmmakers in attendance that weekend.

Midland Film Institute (MFI) participated in the Box Truck Carnival last year, screening films to gauge the receptiveness of their audience in their mobile movie theater. “In planning of the festival we realized to be truly sustainable, we needed to create more programming, which includes more screenings and educational workshops,” says MFI Executive Director Marcelina Robledo. So this year they decided to take it one step further.

MFI is partnering with MPMF to include the work of independent local and international filmmakers as part of the weekend’s events. The inaugural MidPoint Film Festival will take place at the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Mayerson Theater. Visitors won’t have to travel far to Washington Park (it’s right next door) — the location for many of the weekend’s headliner performances.    

MFI is an organization of filmmakers with a mission to honor and showcase the work of independent filmmakers, so when they approached MPMF Executive Producer Dan McCabe in May 2011 with the idea, he was extremely supportive. Eighteen months later, they have corporate sponsors, have filed for federal 501(c)(3) status to become a nonprofit and have some real gems lined up.

MFI partnered with Happen, Inc., a nonprofit arts organization that allows children and adults alike the opportunity to connect through art, because the organization’s “Camera, Lights, Learning in Action” all-ages filmmaking seven-week program seemed like the perfect fit. Happen will show several of the resulting films on Saturday afternoon.

That same day, MFI’s documentary, Mile in My Shoes: Women Veterans debuts and it also had students involved in the film’s production. Eight undergrads from Cincinnati State’s audio/visual production degree program were critical in the documentary’s production, says Robledo. She is well aware of the need to encourage creativity in younger generations, “in order for the filmmaking community to expand and become sustainable in the region.”

The Film Festival’s opening night is a fundraising pay-what-you-can (suggested $10 donation) event featuring two local documentary films: Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine and Newport Gangsters. All of the proceeds will go to support the two films and to keep the MidPoint Film Festival going on a yearly basis.

It is a great time in Cincinnati to be in the creative fields and MPMF is increasingly programmed as a mecca for those in the arts (audio, visual, performing and otherwise). With attendance jumping from 13,500 in 2008 to more than 23,000 in 2011, the revamped historic setting of Over-the-Rhine and the scores of art professionals who organize these feats of passionate expression, it’s enough to inspire an artistic revolution in this city.

ArtWorks’ BOX TRUCK CARNIVAL and the MIDPOINT FILM FESTIVAL run Thursday-Saturday as part of the MidPoint Music Festival (

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