American Sign Museum Announces National Roll-Out of CoSign Project

November 23, 2016
Media contact: Cate Becker


American Sign Museum Announces National Roll-out of CoSign Project

Cincinnati, OH -- CoSign, a creative place-making project developed by the American Sign Museum in collaboration with the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, is expected to be replicated in six communities across the United States in 2017.

CoSign brings together local business owners with artists and professional sign fabricators to create unique signage in designated business districts.  The six cities which have qualified, and their respective organizations which are facilitating the process in these communities, include:  

  • Alachua, FL – Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Historic District
  • Charlotte, NC - ArtPop Street Gallery, Plaza Midwood Business District
  • Evanston, IL - Downtown Evanston, Commercial Business District
  • West Des Moines, IA - Historic Valley Junction Foundation, Valley Junction Business District 
  • Iowa City, IA – Iowa City Downtown District, Metropolitan Improvement District
  • Chicago, IL - Uptown United, Argyle Street Business District

Each community will begin preliminary planning immediately, leading up to a two-day workshop at the Cincinnati-based American Sign Museum, February 19th – 21st. The six to seven month CoSign process will begin in earnest next March for the communities who complete the workshop. The project will culminate in the unveiling of 10-12 signs in each community during an existing public event in the fall.

Tod Swormstedt, Executive Director of the American Sign museum says, “CoSign designs, fabricates and installs a critical mass of new storefront signage for a given business district.  It demonstrates the true value of cross pollination between the arts, small business and the sign industry.” He continues, “We are thrilled to work with each of the six communities and expand this project nationally.”

The project was originally a collaboration of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation and the American Sign Museum, both of Cincinnati, and was piloted in Cincinnati’s Northside business district in 2012.  CoSign was awarded an ArtPlace grant in 2013 which enabled the project to be encored in Northside in 2013 and then across the river to Covington, KY in 2014.  The Covington project was additionally supported by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.  

The ArtPlace grant involved the creation of a “toolkit,” so that CoSign could be replicated in other US communities.  The critical ingredients for a successful implementation are three-fold:

  • A critical mass of willing small businesses with a defined geographic area.
  • A committed, organized group of residents willing to be supportive of their neighborhood business district.
  • A community character that embraces creative placemaking.

CoSign recently named Cate Becker of BLDG Refuge as the Project Director for the national implementation of CoSign. Becker was the former Cultural Arts Director for the City of Covington and oversaw the third iteration of CoSign in Covington, KY. In her role, she connected artists and designers to the project, liaised with government officials and organized the 10th anniversary of Art Off Pike, the urban arts festival where the project signs were unveiled.