Chances are you’ve come into contact with AGAR at some point in Cincinnati. Ubahn Fest in the Riverfront Transit Center? That’s theirs. The Danger Wheel race in Pendleton? AGAR again. BLINK? AGAR, too.
First things first: what the heck does “agar” mean?
“Agar’s the red substance at the bottom of a petri dish that when you agitate it, it grows cultures or organisms, and that’s what we like to think that we do,” said Andrew Salzbrun, managing partner at the OTR-based agency.
Founded by Josh Heuser, AGAR has been agitating and growing culture across the region (and beyond) over the last eight years, creating unique experiential events designed to facilitate human connection.
“We are a growth medium,” Salzbrun said. “Our belief is that, as the world grows more digital, the value of a human experience inherently increases. We believe that [...] being able to touch and feel something becomes more valuable because it becomes more rare, and as it becomes more rare, the expectations for a really fantastic meaningful experience go up.”
One of those first meaningful experiences was Lumenocity. AGAR hooked up with Brave Berlin, and the resulting projection mapping and live symphony experience was a huge success. It’s no wonder the teams joined forces again for the 2017 inaugural BLINK festival.
“A lot of what we controlled were things that were the big, broad, creative vision for the festival, but what we were actually executing were things that were the fingerprints left behind,” said Salzbrun.
Inspired by the Wynwood Arts District in Miami, Florida, the AGAR team became fascinated with turning a space into an outdoor art gallery and consequently orchestrated all the murals surrounding Findlay Market. Salzbrun said they were inspired by the opportunity to put Cincinnati in a local and national spotlight, and they succeeded — more than one million people came to BLINK.
Other Cincinnati-based staple events include the Ubahn Fest, a two-day hip hop and EDM festival held in the Riverfront Transit Center. Danger Wheel is a community-based event in which proceeds benefit beautification projects in the Pendleton.
Additionally, AGAR offshoots include:
- The Old Flame Records and Savantry record labels
- An artist-in-residence program
- A youth self-actualization program called Bigger Than Sneakers
- Several brick-and-mortar establishments where experiential ideas are test driven
The AGAR team of 15 is focused on growing the culture of Cincinnati, and they’re expanding nationally, too. They just opened a satellite office in Chicago, and have touchpoints in eight states and counting.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for the business. We’ve grown a lot in the last two years, and we're starting to tell that story of not only our brand and our city, but the idea of what it’s like to grow culture on a national level,” said Salzbrun.
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For more on AGAR, visit their website.