5 Questions with Justus Bruns from Times Square Art Square

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“I live my life realizing ideas in order to make people think.”

He is Justus Bruns. He is half Dutch, half German.

Born and raised in Belgium, he is now based in NYC and he stays behind the Times Square Art Square project- an ambitious endeavour to replace ads with art on the most famous square in the world. This week on 29 June, Justus Bruns will present his project at 2012 Communicating the Museum Conference (#ctm12) at the Met.

1. How was the idea about Times Square Art Square born?

The idea was born about two and a half years ago. It came out of a simple question: Why is there so much space for advertising and so little for art. Where ads inspire us to consume, art inspires us to create. My project began with the thought of essentially pausing the chaotic advertising hodgepodge that is Times Square for an entire month, turning people’s attention there to art instead of advertising. Imagine all the inspired creativity that such an event could generate, support and foster even after it ends.

2. What does it take to replace ads with art on Times Square?

If one has the money, I suppose buying billboards is the easy part. What requires much more planning and determination is creating a renewable and sustainable event, one that promotes artistic development and maintains a high level of artistic integrity. As it is supremely important that our event grow into an annual exhibition that the City and the Times Square region will embrace, our plan is to create something responsive yet provocative. We would like to help New Yorkers connect with Times Square in a way that the current congestion, noise, traffic and sensory overload don’t necessarily support.

3. How do you fund the project? You started on kickstarter, what followed then?

We started on Kickstarter. While our initial Kickstarter campaign was a success, we raised a modest $10K. Not a penny of that money has been spent yet, but we realized almost immediately that a legitimate and effective launch of Times Square Art Square would require considerably more investment.

In order to fund Art Square 2012, we are planning a second and larger Kickstarter campaign and seeking additional private capital. This will support our initial event and allow us to develop Times Square Art Square into a sustainable organization, one that relies on a sponsorship and grant supported model in years 2013 and beyond.

4. Who are the different stakeholders and how do you use social media to communicate with them?

Our stakeholders are many and include everyone from the residents of New York City to the millions of tourists that visit it each year, the artists whose work will be commissioned and/or shown, the artists who will be inspired by the event, the museums that will curate the conversation annually, the Times Square businesses and advertisers who will carry on their own conversations with visitors to Times Square, the 130+ billboard owners, local government agencies and non-profits, arts organizations, and the list goes on.Social media supports a number of important dialogues for us. It allows us to introduce people to the project and share other things – art, artists, other organizations, events, etc- that interest us or relate to Times Square Art Square. It also gives us a wonderful opportunity to listen to our supporters and learn what interests them. We are constantly introduced to new projects, artists, events and ideas by our fans and followers.

We are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest & Instagram. We are aiming to stage an event for the people. People are everything.

5. What’s next? Las Vegas?

Times Square Art Square will grow into an annual month-long event, one that aims to present visitors to our exhibition an opportunity to experience groundbreaking art within a transformed Times Square for the duration.

For Twitter updates from #ctm12 follow @agendaparis or me @ellie_zheleva– I’ll be tweeting the most relevant social media topics, but most importantly I’ll try to catch a few VIPs for interviews behind the stage.

Elina Zheleva is working for the European Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne. She just finished an EMBA in Marketing and Communications. Interested in a million things other than airplanes like tech startups, art festivals and alternative museums.

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