In a single weekend at Union Hall, more than 100 people came together to tackle eight real-life business challenges from Greater Cincinnati's largest arts organizations during the first Tidal ArtsWave Art x Tech Challenge, presented by Fifth Third Bank. 

The result: working prototypes of apps that connect people with other art lovers, allow them to learn more about artists and venues, enable them to find discounts and buy tickets with the swipe of the finger, reward them for attending shows, and suggest new performances they should see. 

And those were just from the two winning teams. 

Chris coaching

In all, 11 teams competed at the Art x Tech Challenge, an idea conceived by Chris Ostoich (pictured above), an ArtsWave board member and co-founder of LISNR, a Cincinnati-based start-up company earning national attention. LISNR was born during a hackathon weekend, and Ostoich wanted to use that model to bring the creativity of the arts into Cincinnati's start-up community and the spark of innovation into the region's long-standing arts sector. Startup Cincy and Cintrifuse CEO Wendy Lea supported the effort, which became a reality April 8 through 10 at Union Hall. 

“We are proud to sponsor Tidal Arts + Tech Challenge, because it aligns with our corporate interest in encouraging curiosity and creativity,” said Teresa Tanner, Fifth Third Bank executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “Fifth Third also has a long commitment to the arts in Greater Cincinnati.”

The eight challenges presented Friday night came from 10 of Greater Cincinnati's largest arts organizations: ArtsWave, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, ArtWorks, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival, Contemporary Arts Center, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum and Playhouse in the Park. Participants sorted themselves into teams before heading over to the CAC Blackbox Theatre for a special performance from indie pop band Multimagic. 

Arts360 team working

Work began in earnest Saturday morning, and all day, Union Hall buzzed with energyand bright ideas as teams talked with arts organization representatives and brainstormed solutions. Coaches from Fifth Third and the Startup Cincy community helped teams work through technical problems, marketing pitches and more. One team, tasked with creating an interactive lobby experience, even toured Playhouse in the Park. 

On Sunday, 11 teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges: Rhinegeist Co-Founder Bob Bonder, Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Victoria Morgan, Xavier University School of Art and Innovation Director Tom Merrill, Cincinnati Arts Association Marketing Director Van Ackerman, Brave Berlin Creative Director Steve McGowan, Wyzzer CEO Natasia Malaihollo, P&G Brand Manager Sidney Ngochi and Fifth Third CIO Sid Deloatch. 

The winning team came up with Wave, an app that uses the swipe feature popularized by Tinder to connect people around the arts, but also give them more information about artists and venues, as well as allow them to discover new shows and performances and buy tickets. Team members were Patrick Henke, Andrew Savitz and Aidan Wolf.

The second place team created Arts360, a loyalty app that integrates existing resources such as CincyArtsGuide and the ArtsWave ArtsPass. The fan favorite solution was Pablo, a Siri-like function that would allow people to get more information via text about performances and art pieces thanks to picture recognition and keyword searching. Other teams created programs that would allow people to create art with one-word answers to prompts, build and share their own personal art collection, and check-in and get real-time information as they go through museums. 

ArtsWave intends to work with each team to continue the collaborations and determine the resources needed to make the ideas a reality. 

JumpStart team working

ArtsWave also invited all ArtsWaveTech participants and coaches to be founding members of its new Tech Advisory Council. In addition to providing input for the next Art x Tech Challenge, the council will help ArtsWave spark innovation and build technical resources in the Greater Cincinnati arts community. 

“Our long-standing arts sector and the growing tech and entrepreneurial sector both put Cincinnati on the map and draw top talent, new jobs, and tourists to our region. ArtsWave is excited to bring these two key parts of our region's economy together,” ArtsWave CEO Alecia Kintner said. “We know the arts have the power to fuel creativity and learning for everyone, at any age, and this unique event will show that.”