Sunday, August 10, 2003

City gets some good press, for a change

Media is the message (No. 5) - It's like oxygen, we wrote. At the end of the day, the 24/7 media - print, broadcast and the Web - have told us what's important - and, by omission, what isn't.

According to a City Hall memo, reported by the Enquirer's Greg Korte in June, 83 percent of the news stories written about Cincinnati this year have been positive, up from 44 percent in 2002.

And arts, culture and entertainment have been prominent headlines all winter and spring, peaking with the opening of the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

Headlines are "enormously important," says Downtown Cincinnati Inc. chief David Ginsburg.

Dwelling on the negative can reinforce problems while positive headlines tell an entirely different story. Lately, local and national headlines have been filled with well-earned happy talk.

The Rosenthal Center opening has created "incredible buzz in the national media," says Lisa Haller, president and CEO of Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Residents stand up and take notice - as do their friends and relatives who live outside the city."

Fine Arts Fund (No. 10) - The fund is seeing mixed results so far this year. Its $10.3 million campaign was a record-breaker, thanks to accept-no-excuses leadership by Procter & Gamble's A.G. Lafley. But its arts marketing campaign, Festival of the New - seven weekends sprawled over five months - has failed to generate much of a buzz.

Great American Ball Park (No. 6) - Two-thirds of the way through the 2003 season, the Reds are on track for the 2.5 million attendance predicted for its 81-home game first year in Great American Ball Park.

At the season's midpoint in July, 1,286,277 had passed through the turnstiles for 43 games, compared to 970,585 attending the same number of games at Cinergy Field last year.

But at the end of July, the slumping Reds embarked on a trading frenzy that could disgruntle many fans for the remainder of the season.

MidPoint Music Festival (No. 20) - The local new-music showcase, which debuted in 2002 to a word-of-mouth crowd of 10,000, will return to the Main Street district this year with an extra night and more bands.

As of mid-July, 100 artists had accepted invitations to perform Sept. 24-27. Bill Donobedian expects more than 200 artists at 12 venues with 14 stages (although that may go up a bit.) Corporate sponsorships are peppier than the first go-round.

Racial healing and downtown (No. 4) - In January, we noted that Cincinnati has never been more diverse, with Asian and Hispanic populations booming. But the gap between black and white Cincinnatians seems to be at its widest since the volatile 1960s.

While safety has been identified as Job One, the city's pursuit of the Creative Class to live and work downtown seems to be pushing our racial issues out of the spotlight, especially since Cincinnati Community Action Now (CAN) began the process of handing off its programs in early June.

As for the entertainment boycott, it seems to be losing its organization. In the current economy, it's hard to see what Cincinnati isn't getting, and whether cancellations have more to do with low ticket sales and over-extended promoters than with political action.

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City gets some good press, for a change
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