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Carnegie Unveils New Logo as Organization Grows in Importance to Community

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A new message of captivating creative boldness is erupting in Covington's Eastside as The Carnegie unveils its new branding and sets forth a strategy to reinforce its position as Northern Kentucky's largest arts center.

More than two-hundred people attended the gala at which executive director Katie Brass revealed The Carnegie's new logo. "The Carnegie is a very special place," Brass said in the center's theater. "We want more people to fall in love with us."

Global marketing agency Interbrand went searching for a non-profit organization with whom it would partner for $45,000 worth of branding work, at a cost of zero to the organization. The agency utilized the assistance of ArtsWave (formerly the Fine Arts Fund) to find the perfect match. "The first time we met Katie and the people at the facility we knew it was the right fit," said Scott Lucas, Interbrand executive director of the Cincinnati office, before sharing a video valentine to the arts organization.

Interbrand spent the past eighteen months working with The Carnegie in developing a new message with the challenge of bringing together the center's three elements: theater, art, and education. "We needed to develop a brand that brought them all together," Lucas said.

The collaboration with Interbrand also scored The Carnegie a new board member. Jason Hargis, associate creative director at Interbrand, will join the board. During the announcement Hargis shared that he was born just up the street at the former Saint Elizabeth Hospital and attended Covington Catholic and the University of Kentucky. He said that while Interbrand is a global organization that works with Fortune 500 companies, it was important for the firm to provide this pro bono work for a local arts organization.

Interbrand defined The Carnegie's voice as being one that is inclusive, curious, and optimistic. The bright new logo (pictured) moves toward that message. The partnership will continue to develop ways to spread the message with new signage throughout the facility and possibly on the streets eventually. The Carnegie's new website went live at midnight Friday and was created and launched by The All Night Party, a local firm that collaborated with Interbrand during the hand-off of the branding materials, which included the logo and the new brand identity and standards. The All Night Party also created the poster signage that now hangs in The Carnegie's Connector.

“We quickly discovered what makes The Carnegie special and developed a brand that reflects that,” said Lucas. “Those who are connected with The Carnegie know it’s a place that’s inclusive, where you can experience art with a sense of optimism and curiosity.” 

“We wanted a new, vibrant identity that reflects the three areas of The Carnegie in a fresh, cohesive way,” said Ron Bates, President of The Carnegie Board of Directors. “We’re hoping the new branding will encourage those who know us for one area will come explore The Carnegie with a new perspective.”

“The new brand is amazing and Interbrand treated us as if we were a paying client,” Brass said. “I felt like they fell in love with The Carnegie, and it showed in the work they did for us.”

The Carnegie has a role in Covington's past and future

The building known as The Carnegie was built in 1904 as Covington's library, part of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie's nationwide effort to build such places. It is one of the few remaining Carnegie libraries in the country and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When the Kenton County Public Library moved to a new location, The Carnegie was established in 1972.

In the forty-plus years since, it has grown to become Northern Kentucky's largest arts organization, a $1.5 million business.

Its success mirrors other developments in Covington's Eastside neighborhood. Covington Latin High School recently added a new wing and one of the city's largest-ever residential developments is underway directly behind The Carnegie. River's Edge at Eastside Pointe, a mixed-income rental community where the former Jacob Price housing project once stood, will have tenants by the spring or summer of 2013. The Walgreens store across the street is moving around the corner into a soon-to-be constructed building across from the city's most recognizable landmark, St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.

A revitalized neighboring community could offer more amenities for the 55,000 visitors Brass says visit The Carnegie each year. "I think we're an untouched resource that can benefit the revitalization of Covington," Brass said, though she adds that she is unsure whether that has resonated at City Hall. "We have more of an impact than just showing art on the wall."

She would like to see more restaurants open up in the immediate area. Brass said that some restaurants in Mainstrasse Village often ask her when the next show is because they do so well during those times. People enjoy dinner and a show, but options are limited, if not nil, in the Eastside. "It's not a far walk to Mainstrasse but there's not much to see on the way," Brass said.

She is keeping a close eye on progress from the Covington's Center City Action Plan, the study completed last year that aims to guide the revitalization of the urban core. Brass hopes that the city becomes more walkable and marketable. 

In the meantime, with each show The Carnegie offers a special night dubbed Dine Under The Dome, a reference to its architectural centerpiece and a dinner catered by Jeff Thomas. 

And while progress from the action plan will take some time, The Carnegie continues to do its part for the future of itself and the city. "I truly have the pleasure of coming to work every day to a place that people love so much," Brass said.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Note: An earlier version of this story left out the role played by The All Night Party in The Carnegie's new branding efforts. The story has since been updated to reflect that.