The architectural drawings are stunning, but the news itself is even more exciting: Media Bridges, the non-profit group managing the city of Cincinnati's cable access programming, is moving to the corner of Central Parkway and Race Street in Over-the-Rhine.
For those keeping track of Over-the-Rhine's growing list of arts proposals, a scorecard is definitely needed.
Last year, CityBeat proposed an "Avenue of the Arts" that begins at Sixth and Walnut streets, future site of the new Contemporary Arts Center, and extends up Walnut past the Aronoff Center to Central Parkway, site of the now-shuttered Emery Theatre, and Twelfth Street, proposed future home of the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
In one swoop, Media Bridges is breathing new life to Cincinnati's T-shaped arts boulevard, which we dubbed "The T."
"Just the nature of the neighborhood allows us to do more with arts organizations as well as nearby social organizations," says Media Bridges Executive Director Belinda Rawlins. "We want to do more than just shoot events. This space will enable us to bring large groups of people into our space. We already collaborate with social agencies, and now we'll be able to do more."
A lack of usable space at its long-time location at 2114 Reading Road made a move inevitable. Plans to convert WLWT's Crosley Square headquarters into the city's first mixed media arts center fell through in early 1998, but after touring various buildings in and around downtown, Media Bridges has decided to create Over-the-Rhine's newest facility for film, video, broadcasting and other media arts.
Regarding Over-the-Rhine's status as Cincinnati's arts neighborhood, Media Bridges' commitment begins 2001 in glorious fashion.
Talk about Over-the-Rhine development is becoming a reality. By occupying an underused building, Media Bridges proves that there's room for everyone in the neighborhood. In this case, any long-simmering controversies over gentrification are unwarranted.
Already, Media Bridges is planning on extending its outreach to its new neighbors. Imagine the possibilities: Media Bridges can film a performance by The Know Theatre Tribe at Gabriel's Corner. They can offer job training to Drop Inn Center clients. SCPA students can visit its on-site studio.
Basically, there's no limit to the potential collaborations.
"Our first-floor studio will be in use almost every day," Rawlins says. "The visibility from the studio windows alone will help us increase the number of people who come though our door.
"We want to create a place where people want to come. We plan on being open for Final Fridays with a series of media installations. We want to try to expand the gallery walks in this direction."
An April party is planned at the new facility. It's the organization's way of promoting its new Over-the-Rhine home. It will also signal the start of a capital campaign to help pay for the new home. Like all small non-profits, money remains a key stumbling block for Media Bridges.
If the growth of Over-the-Rhine follows bullish predictions, a renovated Emery Theatre, a relocated Arts Academy and a new SCPA will soon join Media Bridges. As interior work continues on the brick building at the corner of Central Parkway and Race Street, the potential for Cincinnati's T-shaped arts boulevard continues to take shape.
More importantly, Media Bridges and its new Over-the-Rhine home should silence naysayers cynical of the neighborhood's potential as an arts district.
This move confirms the area as a hotbed of creative, progressive forward-thinkers. It's Cincinnati's true arts neighborhood. If it weren't, Media Bridges would never have moved there.
Contact steve ramos: [email protected]