FRONT reports strong attendance results and increased audience engagement for its 2022 exhibition following a one-year pandemic delay.

Jun. 16, 2023

FRONT reports strong attendance results and increased audience engagement for its 2022 exhibition following a one-year pandemic delay.

Today, FRONT Exhibition Company released results from the second edition of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, which ran July 16-October 2, 2022. The expansive, multi-venue, season-long exhibition of international contemporary art generated strong visitor engagement, despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, and delivered a much-needed economic boost to a recovering local economy.

"Even in the shadow of the global pandemic, FRONT exhibitions were visited over 375,000 times by 75,000 visitors from across our region and around the world," said FRONT Executive Director Fred Bidwell, "Despite depressed attendance reported by museums, FRONT outperformed. We are especially excited about the remarkable increase in visitor engagement with our venues, which is a strong testament to the quality and the power of the work of our artists and partners."

FRONT leverages the strengths of Northeast Ohio's renowned art institutions in a thematic season-long experience that establishes Cleveland as a cultural and intellectual hub. A key objective for FRONT is to generate new economic activity through arts tourism.

FRONT commissioned the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University to conduct impact studies of its 2018 and 2022 editions by analyzing the effects of local and out-of-town visitor spending and the organization's investment in the community.

According to the Cleveland State report, FRONT's multi-site exhibition generated hundreds of thousands of visits to its locations across Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin. In 2018, FRONT welcomed over 90,000 unique visitors sourced from across the region and around the world. Over 30,000 visitors traveled from outside the area, and FRONT's first edition counted visitors from over 25 countries.

Early in 2020, in response to the COVID pandemic, FRONT postponed its second edition from 2021 to 2022. FRONT's exhibition theme, Oh Gods of Dust and Rainbows, celebrated art and art-making as a mode of therapy and healing and positioned the Triennial's second edition as a force for the recovery of the local arts economy.

The lingering effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions had a measurable impact on the audience for the Triennial's second edition. FRONT 2022 had 75,000 unique visitors, an 18% decline from 2018, but well above the average 20% to 40% decline that the American Alliance of Museums has reported.

Despite the drop in unique visitors, FRONT 2022 sites enjoyed a significant increase in audience engagement, according to the Cleveland State University report. In 2022, the average visitor visited five exhibition sites, double that of 2018. That increased engagement generated over 100,000 more site visits than the inaugural edition and resulted in a total economic impact of over $120 million for the season, an 18% increase over 2018.

"The arts and culture sector is a major economic driver for Northeast Ohio," said Jeremy Johnson, CEO of The Assembly for the Arts. "FRONT 2022, and its message of healing through the arts couldn't have been more timely for arts institutions, artists, and art lovers looking for recovery after a difficult couple of years."

From the outset, FRONT has earned national and international attention for its ambitious scope, the prestige of its partners, artists, and the quality of its artistic product. Media coverage of FRONT ranged from reviews in art world publications such as Art Forum and the Art Newspaper to news stories garnered across leading local, regional, national, and international media outlets, such as Vanity Fair and Forbes. FRONT 2022 generated over eighty individual articles with a reach of over 200 million consumers.

According to Kathryn Heidemann, President of Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), "FRONT brings the extraordinary talents and cultural resources of Cleveland to the world and broadens the horizons of possibility for all the citizens of our region. CIA is proud of our partnership with FRONT, which provides our students with invaluable exposure and experience and brings CIA to the attention of the international art world."

Sarah Spinner Liska, FRONT Managing Director, notes, "With strong visitorship and audience engagement, FRONT is quickly becoming one of the essential arts destination events in North America. We are already planning to build on that success for our third edition in the summer of 2025 and look forward to growing our impact in Cleveland, the region, and around the world.”

Read the FRONT 2022 Economic Impact Report here

About FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art
FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is a free, public art exhibition that takes place across Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin every three years. A destination event that positions Northeast Ohio as a global cultural hub, FRONT delivers world-class projects and programs through its network of partnerships with museums and institutions across the region, including The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Akron Art Museum, moCa Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland Public Library. For more information, visit or follow @FRONTtriennial.

For press inquiries, please contact FRONT Executive Director Fred Bidwell at

The Center for Economic Development in the Levin College of Public Affairs and Education at Cleveland State University conducts applied research and provides technical assistance as a think tank for regional economic development. The Center’s areas of expertise include industrial analysis, performance of economic clusters, equity and inclusion, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic impact, and program evaluation. The Center’s researchers apply academic rigor to data-driven analyses and have a well-earned reputation for conducting unbiased, sound, and policy-relevant studies.

Press Contact: Center Director Molly Schnoke at or (216) 523-7495.