Texas arts leader to take charge of BLINK

Announcement made on heels of launch of ArtsWave $11.5 million campaign

BLINK® Cincinnati, the dazzling art and light festival first held in Cincinnati in 2017 and last held in 2019 with more than 1 million attendees, will return this year from October 13-16 under the leadership of a new executive director.

Justin Brookhart

Justin Brookhart has been named executive director of BLINK Cincinnati, moving to Cincinnati from Austin, Texas.

Brookhart has more than 15 years of private sector and nonprofit leadership experience in the arts and culture space and will lead the collaborative of producing partners including: ArtsWave, AGAR, ArtWorks, Brave Berlin, the Haile Foundation and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. 

“It’s an honor to lead BLINK Cincinnati in collaboration with our producing partners to shine a light on Cincinnati’s innovative and forward-thinking arts and culture community,” said Brookhart, who also studied at the University of Cincinnati. “I have long heard of Cincinnati’s collaborative creative spirit and I look forward to creating long-lasting partnerships in continuing the enormous success of BLINK.” 

The announcement of the timing and the new executive director was made in conjunction with the introduction of a new BLINK-themed Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar in partnership with the City of Cincinnati and ArtsWave that will become a permanent fixture on the streetcar route. And it came on the heels of ArtsWave announcing its 2022 campaign goal of $11.5 million.

Tim Steigerwald, chair of the 73rd ArtsWave campaign and president and CEO of Messer Construction Co., said that local arts organizations are still grappling with almost two years of pandemic-related revenue losses totaling to more than $140 million.

Steigerwald has raised $500,000 from 22 pacesetting gifts to begin fundraising. Steigerwald said he wants the public to match this to create a $1 million boost to the campaign. The ArtsWave campaign collects donations each year to make more than 150 grants funding the region’s arts community.

Former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley pledged $1 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan funding to hold BLINK in 2022. The funds haven’t been allocated yet. BLINK has had a nearly $90 million economic impact on the region.

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