Opinion: Investments in artists pay dividends for regional economy

Source: Crain’s Cleveland Forum

Date: August 28, 2023

Abstract: Arts and culture play an outsized role in the economic and social vibrancy of Greater Cleveland. Some $9.1 billion is generated annually by Northeast Ohio’s creative economy industry — a mix of nonprofits, cultural businesses and individual artists — according to pre-pandemic research from Ohio Citizens for the Arts.

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Knowledge Building

Workshops to Elevate Your Skills

You’ve got the creativity down. We are here to help you build the skills to better monetize your creative career. Through the generous support of Huntington, Assembly is delivering workshops around proposal-writing, financial skills, and other important practices that artists need for more economic stability.

Check back for more workshops.

RECORDING: Artist Statement and Proposal Writing Workshop

August 21, 2023, 5 p.m.

In partnership with The Cleveland Foundation, learn about the various types of proposals artists and creative entrepreneurs may encounter. Build a stronger artist statement and gain some writing tools to help you write your strongest project proposals.

  • Boris Oicherman, Director of Grantmaking, Arts & Culture at The Cleveland Foundation, will discuss their available grant opportunity.
  • Meg Matko, Director of Community Relationships, and independent artist will present information on writing compelling artist statements.
  • Veronica “Ms. Vee” Thornton, Community Relations Consultant and owner of VEES Consulting will share information on proposal writing.

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16 Local Artists Selected to Bring Transformational Projects to Redlined Communities in Cleveland

PRESS RELEASE: July 14, 2023
Media Contact: Malissa Bodmann; 216-536-7517

16 Local Artists Selected to Bring Transformational Projects to Redlined Communities in Cleveland

Assembly’s Creative Impact Fund Artists will work in 11 Cleveland neighborhoods and East Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Assembly for the Arts has selected 16 local artists to create transformational arts projects in redlined communities that lack arts investment.

The Creative Impact Fund, funded by Cuyahoga County taxpayers through a $140,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, will help to develop areas of significant arts activity in Cleveland and East Cleveland. This is the first grant program for artists in Cuyahoga County that is specifically focused on investing in historically redlined neighborhoods.

Jeremy V. Johnson, president and CEO of Assembly for the Arts, said the organization is excited to launch another artist funding opportunity. “The Creative Impact Fund is in line with Assembly’s mission of expanding resources and increasing the equity in Cleveland’s arts and culture scene, translating into 16 meaningful programs and experiences for both artists and residents. We are excited to welcome the first cohort of artists and get dollars into their hands so they, in turn, can hone their practice and help the redlined communities in which they create,” he said. “Arts are a powerful tool in creating community.”

The 16 artists, their projects and neighborhood location are listed below. The artists were selected through an application and panel review process.

  • Shadi Ayoub
    Let’s Print Together! (Visual Arts, Graphic Design, and Craft; St. Clair Superior, Clark Fulton, or Asiatown)
  • Alexander Corona
    Raíces: Danzas de México (Dance; St. Clair Superior)
  • Moises De Freitas
    Afro Brazilian Cultural Appreciation Initiative (Dance, Music, Writing/Literature; East Cleveland)
  • Dale Goode
    Domestic Violence is Not Pretty (Visual Arts, East Cleveland)
  • Natasha Herbert 
    The Avenue Cleveland Youth Photography Program (Film/Media; Midtown, St. Clair Superior; Central-Kinsman; or East Cleveland)
  • Baba Jubal Harris
    Heart Beat Drum Circle (Music; East Cleveland)
  • Stephanie Lassiter
    The Girl (Film/Media; Mt. Pleasant)
  • Josh Maxwell
    ROOTED (Visual Arts; Broadway-Slavic Village)
  • Adenike Harper
    A Peace of Cake (Visual Arts; Central-Kinsman; North & South Collinwood)
  • Robin Robinson
    Recapture the Spirit of Our Community Park (Visual Arts; Glenville)
  • Georgio Sabino
    Artistic Jungle Series (Visual Arts, Fashion; Fairfax)
  • Julie Schabel
    Wave Space Summer Camps (Visual Arts; North & South Collinwood; Hough; Central-Kinsman; Union Miles; or St. Clair Superior)
  • Ben Smith
    The Splice Cream Spliced Team Dream Concert Series (Music & Visual Arts; Buckeye-Woodhill)
  • Julia Sosa
    El Romantico (Theater, Writing/Literature; Clark Fulton)
  • Mary Thomas
    U & I of Euclid Avenue (Visual Art; East Cleveland)
  • Linda Zolten Wood
    Sustainable Arts with Zolten Wood Design & Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project (Visual Arts, Craft; East Cleveland and North Collinwood)

The Creative Impact Fund artists receive:

  • $6,250, of which up to $2,500 is unrestricted support and $3,750 in project support
  • Professional development opportunities, valued at $2,075, supported by the Entrepreneur in Residence powered by Huntington
  • Support from Assembly’s staff who will advise project leads in attaining their project goals via marketing and professional development support and connections to institutional partners, potential collaborators or thought partners
  • Assembly for the Arts membership

Learn more at www.assemblycle.org/creativeimpactfund. Assembly for the Arts’ Creative Impact Fund is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


Assembly for the Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a focus on advocacy, cultural policy, racial equity initiatives, research, marketing that elevates the region, and services for nonprofits, artists, and creative businesses. It is governed by a volunteer board with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Assembly by design operates in close partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a government agency, and Assembly for Action, a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit to serve the entire creative sector. Assembly is supported through major funding from: The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Arts Council, Huntington, KeyBank, The George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, Fred & Laura Beth Bidwell, and Barbara S. Robinson. www.assemblycle.org

Cleveland names Rhonda K. Brown its first arts czar

Source: ideastream

Date: June 15, 2023


Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb announced Thursday the city’s first senior strategist for arts, culture and the creative economy.

Shaker Heights native Rhonda K. Brown most recently served as president at the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation. The Ohio State University graduate previously held development roles at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and Museum of Science and Industry. An artist herself, her parents founded the first for-profit, Black-owned fine art gallery in the country in 1980 in Shaker Heights.

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This Saturday, Bike Your Neighborhood kicks off new community cycling rides

Source: The Land

Date: June 1, 2023


Bob Render, a longtime resident of E. 128th St. between Buckeye and Drexmore Roads in Buckeye-Shaker Square, saw something happen in his neighborhood a few years ago that he couldn’t remember experiencing before.

“Two years ago, I’m down here pulling weeds and I see these folks on bikes coming down the street,” he said. “Well, I didn’t know who they were until they got a little closer, and then I realized it was Tim Tramble, Indigo Bishop, and Peter Whitt, the senior staff of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, and some of the people they funded. I said, ‘Boy, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes. I can’t remember ever seeing a president or CEO of a foundation, any foundation in Cleveland, on a bike ride in the neighborhood.’” …

…Deidre McPherson, who by day works as chief community officer for Assembly for the Arts and by night is an avid cyclist and cycling promoter, is one of the organizers behind Bike Your Neighborhood. She told Harry Boomer of WOIO Channel 19 why she loves Slow Roll events. “It’s a really beautiful experience, we ride through neighborhoods, spread bike joy, and inspire people to move,” she said….

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Artist Engagement and Planning Update


Assembly for the Arts has received a grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture to help shape artist funding in the community. This means over the next several months, we will engage artists and residents and listen to their ideas on the best ways to support artists, both financial and non-financial.

Assembly is designing a focused listening, engagement, and planning effort with artists and residents that will result in a community-driven plan for how CAC’s 2024 Support for Artist funds will be spent.

Assembly and CAC are committed to expanding the pie and increasing equity in Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. We are excited for this next phase of our organizations’ work together.

Stay tuned for more soon. If you’d like to sign up for updates, make sure you receive our newsletter.

Cleveland creatives boost arts entrepreneurship as city looks to pump up arts economy

Source: The Land

Date: April 25, 2023


It’s a cliche that artists can’t make a living, but Cleveland creatives are ramping up efforts to help each other avoid that fate. As the city prepares to use a $250,000 Cleveland Foundation grant to hire a full-time senior strategist for arts, culture and creative economy to help foster an arts economy here, local artists are working to boost the entrepreneurial power of their creative community.

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Cuyahoga Arts & Culture approves $20,000 for feedback on artist funding

Source: Ideastream Public Media | By Kabir Bhatia

Date: April 19, 2023


Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) has seen contentious discussion at its recent meetings about how it distributes funding for artists with revenue from a cigarette tax. Currently, it provides money to four nonprofits, which then distribute the funding to artists. Now, CAC has approved $20,000 for one of those nonprofits, Assembly for the Arts, to hold listening sessions on the topic.

“This proposal is a move in the right direction, where Assembly can do what it was created to do: Be a unifying force for all the creative economy of our region,” said Assembly CEO Jeremy Johnson.

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At a fiery meeting, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture moves toward outsourcing a controversial grant program to Assembly for the Arts

Source: Steven Litt, cleveland.com

Date: April 20, 2023


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the public agency that collects and distributes cigarette tax money for the arts across the county, appears to be moving toward offloading the management of a controversial grant program for individual artists.

During a fiery board meeting Wednesday at the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library downtown, the CAC board voted to award a $20,000 grant to the nonprofit Assembly for the Arts, Greater Cleveland’s new arts council, to “refresh’’ earlier research from 2017 about how best to provide grants to individual artists.

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