Blink weekend set to open Oct. 13; meet the event’s new director

The Blink arts, light and culture festival is set to begin in Cincinnati on Thursday, Oct. 13 and run through Sunday, Oct. 16, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced Monday.

“Blink is back,” said Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the chamber. “As we send the Bengals to the Super Bowl in LA, we’re excited to bring Cincinnati a super weekend of light, art, culture, and diversity when Blink returns this October.”

It’s the third Blink. The first was in 2017, followed by a bigger, bolder Blink in 2019.

New this year is an executive director role. Justin Brookhart, who has experience with large events and collaborating with artists, has been hired by the chamber to run the event. Previously a team of managers ran Blink.

His past jobs include vice president of operations for Mondo, an e-commerce brand that produces limited-edition collectibles; being chief operating officer of Renegade Craft, a group that works with artistic entrepreneurs to produce a nationwide tour of events that support the creative economy; and vice president of operations for the Better Business Bureau of Central Texas.

Justin Brookhart, executive director of Blink

Justin Brookhart, executive director of Blink

Brookhart moved from Austin to Cincinnati earlier this month with his wife, Erin, who is from Ohio. Her family would draw the couple here for family events, but also Reds Opening Day.

A visit around 2017 where they stayed in a rental condo in Over-the-Rhine made them take notice of Cincinnati.

“We had a fantastic weekend,” Brookhart said. “It was the first time we really clocked Cincinnati as a great place to be.”

They missed Blink, but a friend of Erin’s told them they’d have to come back when it happened again.

Brookhart didn’t think that would be as director, but then he saw a posting on LinkedIn for the job.

Brookhart comes from the home of South by Southwest, but he said Blink is something special.

“There are world-class artists, folks from all over the world to participate,” Brookhart said.

Plus, he added, it’s public and it’s free.

He’s found people in Cincinnati know what Blink is and have been looking forward to another but said a huge part of his job is to make sure people outside the city know about it.

“We want people to think they need to come here and check this out,” Brookhart said.

No Blink should be the same experience, he said. There is an opportunity for more collaboration and to bring a greater diversity of artists and inclusion, Brookhart said. It should challenge the audience and push expectations.

“The last thing I want to do is bring back just what people know,” Brookhart said.

Previous Blinks were experienced by more than two million visitors combined, the largest gathering of people ever in downtown Cincinnati and surrounding areas.

Blink is produced by Agar, ArtWorks, Brave Berlin, the Haile Foundation and the chamber.

Hundreds of people packed the Roebling Suspension Bridge on the first night of the Blik arts, light and culture festival in 2019.

Hundreds of people packed the Roebling Suspension Bridge on the first night of the Blik arts, light and culture festival in 2019.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati’s Blink coming back Oct. 13

Angelia S. Rico

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