Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cincinnati's bad rap? Don't believe the local PR.

I've never heard or read anything bad about Greater Cincinnati...until I moved here.

Okay, perhaps this is because I grew up just outside of Cleveland, but even when I left Ohio, Cincinnati never had a bad rap. In fact, the opposite was always true.

Despite living near Cedar Point, King's Island was often the wished for family destination when I was growing up. I didn't make it here until I was in college and this was my personal intro to the city ( I know now the park isn't in Cincinnati, but it was to me then.) Reading Huck Finn oh so many times in college reintroduced me to the city on the Ohio River as a beacon of hope. And shopping for graduate programs always placed the University of Cincinnati near the top. In fact, UC was always the only Ohio school on my wish list. Instead I attended the U of C, for which few can blame me.

When I did move to Cincinnati, I fell in love with it almost immediately. Quickly, I attached myself to the arts community. There is truly so much to see and do here for everyone no matter the age. In fact, what prompted me to launch my own art tours is the seemingly over-abundance of things to see.

So why do I hear from so many that Cincinnati needs to elevate itself, to be forward-thinking, to reject being left behind? Perhaps the better question to ask is, who is making this claim? I've concluded these questions are posed almost exclusively by local pr and marketing professionals. In the past couple of years I've heard this song and dance repeated so often that it has become the premise of nearly every event, building, mission statement I've read or development I've witnessed.

As an art historian, I know about (and may even be guilty of) killing something before analyzing it. But while I may joke that the only good artist is a dead one, I know it is not true. Selling the city by first tearing it down is not only dishonest, but leads to poor analyses and finally inferior products and services, i.e. fluff and filler.