Bibb Administration Launches Transformative Arts Fund, Nearly $3 Million in Grants Now Available to Local Artists


Date: Wednesday, Jan 31, 2024


Between 6 to 12 Cleveland-Centric Projects Will Receive Awards Ranging from $250,000 to $500,000

Wednesday, January 31, 2024 — Cleveland — Mayor Justin M. Bibb announced nearly $3 million is now available for local artists through the City’s Transformative Arts Fund (TAF) grant program.  The program will provide funding for projects and initiatives led by Cleveland-based artists.  The application portal opened today and those who are interested have until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 to apply.

“Our local creative community provides the heartbeat that keeps our neighborhoods vibrant and alive – they inspire our children, bring difficult societal challenges to light, and empower us to take action,” said Mayor Bibb.  “This transformative-level of funding we will be providing is designed to award artists who propose projects that will have a sustained, positive impact in the community long after they are completed.”

The TAF is dedicated to empower artists, creators, and communities to collaborate and create art that reflects the diversity and richness of Cleveland.  Grant amounts will range from $250,000 to $500,000 – meaning that at least 6 and up to 12 projects will be awarded.  The application must be completed by the lead artist(s), with a commitment from a partnering institution who will provide organizational support and administrative assistance for the project.  As a Cleveland-centric program, the following criteria must be met in order to be eligible to receive an award:

·  The lead artist must be 18+ years old and live in the City of Cleveland
·  The partnering institution must be located in the City of Cleveland
·  The proposed project must be based in the City of Cleveland

Artists across the various types of creative disciplines – painting, music, film, culinary, fashion, and others – are all encouraged to apply.  Applicants can collaborate with any institutional partner – which could include community development corporations, social service agencies, nonprofits, schools, religious groups, or private businesses.  Special consideration will be given to project proposals that amplify/address vacant land reutilization, the environment, food insecurity, violence prevention, safe spaces in the city, social determinants of health, and matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Applicants will be required to provide work samples, a detailed budget, an institutional partner letter of commitment, and other documentation when submitting the application.

“Arts is all about nurturing creativity, and innovation while providing entertainment outlets for people of all ages.  As a child, I played instruments for hours after school.  This sparked a creative fire in me and kept me out of trouble,” stated Councilman Kevin Conwell.  The arts are a catalyst for innovation, pushing boundaries, and challenging the status quo.  This is a big deal for Cleveland.  It’s cool beans that we were able to get this up!”

Those who are interested in learning more about the eligibility requirements, necessary documentation, application process, and overall program can find additional information on the TAF webpage.



Assembly for the Arts works to expand resources for artists in Greater Cleveland.  From grants, fellowships, and awards, here are a variety of local, state, and national artist funding opportunities to help you grow and sustain your creative practice.

Current and Upcoming Artist Grants

Cleveland Public Theatre – Kulas Foundation Fellowships – Applications due March 1, 2024. A fellowship for established and emerging singer/songwriters, composers, and sound designers in Greater Cleveland. 

Cleveland Public Theatre – Individual Artist Fund. Applications open March 1 – April 30, 2024. Provides 3 artists with $5,000 in unrestricted funds for actors, dancers, and designers who demonstrate artist excellence and innovation

Cleveland Public Theatre – Premiere Fellowship. Applications open March 1 – April 30, 2024. Provides 4 artists with a $7,000 in unrestricted funds and $3,000 in support towards a project support by CPT. Also includes access to rehearsal and performance space, mentorship, networking opportunities, and additional support (production, marketing, and front of house management).   

SPACES Urgent Art Fund Cycle one applications due April 15, 2024; Cycle two applications accepted from May 20, 2024 – July 22, 2024. 12 artist awards to Cuyahoga County artists/collectives for the creation of “urgent art” that is socially, politically, and/or culturally responsive. $4,000 each will be awarded to artists along with on-site art production facilities, mentorship and network opportunities, an artistlevel SPACES ArtsPass membership, and an Assembly for the Arts membership. A Support for Artist program funded by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and administered by Assembly for the Arts.

Dobama Theatre – Fostering Opportunity for Communities Underserved on the Stage (FOCUS). Applications close April 15, 2024. A mentorship and training program to direct paid professional opportunities for early career theater designers, technicians and stage manager from underserved and underrepresented communities including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent theatre practitioners.  

Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center – Unidos por el Arte. Applications open March 1 – April 30, 2024. Unidos por el Arte is a project-based grant opportunity focused on uniting artists to celebrate the diversity of Cleveland’s Latino community. Ten artists will be awarded $5,000 to complete their project. Artists will have access to dedicated workspace and supplies. Their project will culminate in an art showcase as part of the Center’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in September 2024. Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to apply. In partnership with Assembly for the Arts and supported in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. 

SPACES – Artists Forward Fund.  Applications are currently closed. Supported by the Cleveland Foundation and administered by SPACES, this fund awards $2,000 in unrestricted funding to Cuyahoga County artists. Adapting a pay-it-forward structure, recipients of this microgrant are selected by past awardees letting local artists support local artists. 

The City of Cleveland Transformative Arts Fund. Applications close March 30, 2024. Opportunities for Cleveland artists in collaboration with a city-based institutional partner. 6 to 12 projects will receive $250,000 to $500,000 to create innovative, thought-provoking, and inclusive Cleveland-centric public art projects. Administered by Assembly for the Arts.

Zygote Press – PROOF: Print Residency of Ohio’s Future. Applications close April 14, 2024. A 6-month fine art printmaking residency program for Northeast Ohio artists from historically underrepresented communities. PROOF offers non-printmaking artists from BIPOC communities the opportunity to learn a variety of printmaking techniques including silkscreen, monoprint, relief, intaglio, lithography and RISO.

Karamu House – Room in the House Fellowship. Applications open in March and close April 30, 2024. The Room in the House Fellowship will award 5 visual artists and 5 performing artists with $5,000 in unrestricted funding, inclusion in a digital exhibition on Karamu’s website, participation in curated Karamu events that will feature artists in exhibition or performance, and access to shared workspaces. Artists may be in any phase of their career and align with Karamu’s vision of culturally and socially relevant work that celebrates the Black experience. No project is required. In partnership with Assembly for the Arts and supported in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. 

Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Awards – a variety of awards that recognize excellence, preserve cultural traditions, and offer developmental support. Award programs include Individual Excellence, Artists with Disabilities Access Program, Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, and Artist Opportunities (Professional Development and Project Support).

SPACES – Satellite Fund. Applications open May 6, 2024. Administered by SPACES and supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, this is a grant opportunity for established and emerging visual artists, cultural producers creative professionals, and any Cuyahoga County resident with a strong vision and demonstrated ability to complete the proposed project. Awardees will receive a cash award, a SPACES membership, and professional development opportunities.  

Additional Artist Resources

The following organizations offer resources that help artists write grant proposals, find opportunities, and apply for competitions, grants and residencies. 


The 8th Annual Arts Vibrancy Index from SMU DataArts Compiles List of 40 Most Vibrant Arts Communities Across the U.S., Based on Measures of Per Capita Supply, Demand and Government Support for the Arts

CLEVELAND, OH, November 13, 2023 – SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, released its 8th Arts Vibrancy Index, which identifies Cleveland-Elyria as number 12 in the list of 20 large communities in the United States through an analysis of the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in more than 900 communities across the country. Organized into three separate lists based on community population size, totaling 40 communities across the country, this year’s Arts Vibrancy Index is the first to include numerical rankings since 2020, a reflection of arts organizations returning to in-person activities and performances following the easing of pandemic restrictions. Cleveland, along with neighboring Elyria, has consistently appeared on the Arts Vibrancy Index since its debut on the rankings in 2018. 

This year, Cleveland is ranked 12th on the annual list of large communities in the nation -- the highest ranking it has ever achieved.     

Related research by SMU DataArts shows that Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) like Assembly for the Arts and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture are powerful catalysts of arts vibrancy which ensure that the arts remain an integral part of community life. Fluctuations in a community’s ranking occur from year to year for a variety of reasons, including the opening of an arts district or closing of a performance space as well as local economic conditions. 

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is the region’s largest funder for arts and culture. Since 2006, CAC has invested $230 million in over 470 organizations, including SMU Data Arts, to gather and share local nonprofit arts data through CAC’s grant application process.

“It’s important to have data to demonstrate the strength of Cuyahoga County’s creative community,” said Jill M. Paulsen, executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. “Each year, CAC-funded organizations contribute information to SMU DataArts to help us tell the story of the sector’s impact and shine a light on their work.”

Jeremy V. Johnson, CEO and president of Assembly for the Arts, said, “Cleveland is now ranked 12th in the nation in terms of Arts Providers, Arts Dollars, and Government Support, joining the company of arts-heavy cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. The Arts Vibrancy Index demonstrates the arts’ enduring importance, resiliency, and vibrancy in Greater Cleveland, which is why it’s essential to maintain public support for this important part of our economy.”

Arts-vibrant communities can be found in every region of the United States—a finding which arises from an objective analysis of the data, and not from selecting communities by hand to achieve geographic representation.

“The arts and culture sector was hit hard by the pandemic, and some organizations and communities are still recovering. The Index is an opportunity for communities to affirm and celebrate the individuals and organizations that are the sources of arts vibrancy in their region, whether that’s artists who have mastered a local craft tradition over generations, a cultural festival that families enjoy year after year, or a cherished historic theater, museum, or arts-education center. For organizations, funders, local citizens, and public officials, the Arts Vibrancy Index is a powerful resource that leverages data-driven evidence to illuminate how the arts contribute to an area’s economy and public life,” stated Dr. Zannie Voss, Director of SMU DataArts. “One way that public leaders can spark arts vibrancy in their communities is by expanding funding for local arts agencies, which spurs arts employment, stimulates more artistic activity, and increases the strength of geographically dispersed arts-vibrant cultural resources throughout communities.”

The Lists

In addition to the top arts-vibrant communities listed in the Arts Vibrancy Index, arts-vibrancy scores for every county in the United States can be viewed on an interactive map that identifies arts and cultural strengths that are present in every community. (Also known as Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Areas, these communities have boundaries that are defined by the United States Census Bureau.)

Large Communities (population: 1 million +)

On the list of the most arts-vibrant communities with populations of 1 million or more, one city is new to the list: Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA, sits at the top of the list for the first time since 2018 and Philadelphia, PA, has moved into the top 5 for the first time ever. After debuting in the 20th spot in 2020, Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN, has skyrocketed to the 11th spot.

  1. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA
  2. New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ
  3. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Philadelphia, PA
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  7. Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD
  8. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
  9. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
  10. New Orleans-Metairie, LA
  11. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
  12. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  13. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA
  14. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  15. Pittsburgh, PA
  16. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  17. Seattle-Bellevue-Kent, WA
  18. Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI
  19. Chicago-Naperville-Evanston, IL
  20. St. Louis, MO-IL


Medium Communities (population: 100,000 – 1 million)

Medium communities are home to populations ranging from 100,000 to 1 million people. Canton-Massillon, OH, is new to this list, while Santa Fe, NM; San Rafael, CA; and Pittsfield, MA, have appeared on the list of top medium communities every year since 2015. Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo-Portage, MI, are returning to this list following their 2022 debuts. 

  1. Pittsfield, MA
  2. Santa Fe, NM
  3. Ithaca, NY
  4. San Rafael, CA
  5. Kalamazoo-Portage, MI
  6. Boulder, CO
  7. Missoula, MT
  8. Canton-Massillon, OH
  9. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
  10. Ann Arbor, MI

Small Communities (population <100,000)

Small communities are defined as areas with populations under 100,000. Jackson, WY-ID, and Bennington, VT, have made the list of small communities every year since 2015, with Jackson maintaining its ranking as first among small communities for the past four years.

  1. Jackson, WY-ID
  2. Brevard, NC
  3. Steamboat Springs, CO
  4. Bennington, VT
  5. Easton, MD
  6. Glenwood Springs, CO
  7. Hailey, ID
  8. Juneau, AK
  9. Brookings, SD
  10. Oneonta, NY

The overall Arts Vibrancy Index is composed of 13 unique measures which cover aspects of supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture, and are adjusted for cost of living and population differences among communities. In this year’s index, the analysis approach was updated to weight the 13 inputs based on their relative explanatory power for the underlying concept of arts vibrancy. This approach improves measurement consistency in the face of data availability delays or other changes in individual datasets from year to year. All financial metrics have been adjusted for cost of living in order to level the playing field. The cost of doing business varies based on local conditions, so the same dollar goes further in some communities than others.


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, and Fred & Laura Ruth Bidwell.


Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is the region’s largest funder for arts and culture, helping hundreds of organizations in Cuyahoga County connect millions of people to cultural experiences each year. Since 2006, CAC has invested $230 million in over 470 organizations, making our community a more vibrant place to live, work and play. CAC is a separate government entity and a political subdivision of the State of Ohio. For more information, visit


SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is a project of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. The mission of SMU DataArts is to provide and engage both organizations and individuals with the evidence-based insights needed to collectively build strong, vibrant, and equitable arts communities. Its research efforts range from academic papers published in leading journals, applied research undertaken with community partners, and actionable insights shared directly with arts practitioners. Its programs provide business intelligence tools and resources to help arts leaders leverage data to answer critical management questions and connect research analyses to their own work. Recent publications include research reports on emergence from the COVID-19 crisis; the alchemy that drives high performing arts organizations of color; audience diversity, equity and inclusion in large performing arts organizations; impact of investments made in diverse creative communities; and more. 


Media Contacts:

Malissa Bodmann


Meet Julia Rosa Sosa

Meet Julia Rosa Sosa

Julia Rosa Sosa is a performing artist and storyteller hailing from Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas. Currently based in Cleveland, OH, she is a proud alumna of the University of Texas at El Paso, where she studied Theatre and Sociology.

Julia’s specialty lies in theatre, music, and storytelling. Through her work, she explores the magic of being ordinary and emphasizes how every individual has impactful stories to share. Growing up in a dangerous and unstable place, Julia endeavors to bring messages of hope to her audiences, even if her shows are heartbreaking at times.

In 2020, Julia received the Julia de Burgos Cultural Art Center and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture In-house Residency, which enabled her to produce the US premiere of Valentina y la Sombra del Diablo. This children’s play teaches kids about consent and sexual abuse disclosure. Additionally, Julia participated in the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice Learning Lab in partnership with Esperanza, Inc. In this project, she worked with a group of Latin American students living in the United States, collecting and sharing their views on various topics, including lifestyle, education, family, identity, hobbies, passions, and what it’s like to live during a pandemic. This podcast also serves as a time capsule, reflecting the present and preserving it for future generations.

Julia has contributed her skills as a songwriter and vocalist to the development of two albums for the Lunatic music project. Furthermore, she has performed across the border and bi-nationally during the Maelstrom Collective Arts window activation in 2022.

In addition to performing, Julia has also worked as a freelance theatre director, having directed and assistant directed shows in Oregon, Colorado, Arkansas, Cleveland, New York City, and Ohio. Her play, El Toro y la Nina, premiered as a radio play at the ReUnion rEvolucion | a Latinx new works Fest in 2020.

Overall, Julia Rosa Sosa’s work as a performer and storyteller seeks to share impactful stories that leave a lasting impression on her audience. Whether it’s through theatre, music, or podcasting, she is dedicated to exploring the beauty of the ordinary and the resilience of the human spirit.

Creative Impact Fund Project: El Romantico

El Romantico is Julia Rosa’s first musical. Intended to be a bilingual piece in Spanish and English, delving into the disconnect between fathers and daughters during their teenage years and how many times the ones holding their relationship together are mothers.

The story is about a father and daughter’s relationship through music. The dad is a hardworking worker who plays his guitar at social gatherings and work. The daughter is in a new school, in a new city, in a new country. Little by little, their relationship becomes more distant. She starts to develop new interests, one of which is boys. Dad is not someone she can ask for advice about boys. Mom is the one to talk to about boys; she gives good advice. What happens to the good hobbies daughter used to have with her dad, like playing the guitar and singing?

Well, they are not enjoyable anymore because Dad only talks about how the music these days sucks (but daughter likes that kind of music, does that mean Dad hates the songs she has been making and uploading to YouTube?) Mom knows they need a relationship, so she sneaks a notebook into her daughter’s backpack. In this notebook, the daughter recognizes Dad’s handwriting. In the old crunchy notebook, there are the most beautiful songs about everything she relates to.

Julia’s father passed in 2021, and her creativity shut down. She wanted to create this piece with her father, but unfortunately, it did not happen. He was a songwriter who taught her so much about music. Stay tuned for performance dates.

Meet Linda Zolten Wood

Meet Linda Zolten Wood

Linda Zolten Wood brings arts and sustainability together to create solutions to environmental issues and raise awareness to practical solutions to our changing climate, while creating beauty in our communities. Rain barrels help keep pollution out of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, and give us free rain water for gardens, yard care and even car washes.

Cleveland Institute of Art graduate, LZW was inspired to make these ugly big plastic chunks more beautiful by applying her mural painting skills to improve their overall acceptance and wider use. She created The Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project in 2012. Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Neighborhood Connections, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture Grantee, Zolten Wood wanted Cleveland’s efforts of water conservation to be celebrated, as approximately 400 free barrels have been provided by Mayor Jackson for all of Cleveland neighborhoods for the last ten years, proving to be a popular program, but these barrels are eyesores. Her project will beautify them and encourage long-term usefulness for families who need gardens most.

Zolten Wood’s Upcycled Arts Workshops are influenced by travels in India, which practices a national ethic of ‘no waste’, where practically everything is repaired or reused in some way: Conservation as a daily practice and long-term culture. We benefit fro mending and recreating objects into new useful objects or artworks to beautify our spaces. Our landfills need to slow in growth, and we need to review our consumption habits. Upcycling is a useful tool for communities to tidy up and share with each other.

These project have been brought into schools, libraries, garden clubs and farmers markets for educational programs to help communities beautify their gardens and homes with painted barrels and repurposed artwork. Stormwater and Landfill reduction benefit our fresh waterways, wildlife and drinking water resources and art improves our quality of life. Her philosophy “Art For All” offers creativity to anyone who wants to try, regardless of economics or education: She has experienced the healing of the Arts in all areas of her life.

Creative Impact Fund Project: Sustainable Arts with Zolten Wood Design & Collinwood Painted Rain Barrel Project

Three projects/locations at Senior Centers and a Community Garden who are committed to improving the quality of life for their residents. The audience ranges from senior citizens attending social day classes and helping to nurture their bonds of community, to the Community Garden including families of all ages, encouraging hands on creative expression with Upcycled materials and beautifying their rain barrels so they are encouraged in more consistent use, which helps keep the Lake and River cleaner, and supplies them free water for their garden and yard use.

One Wall Mural for Rose Senior Center in East Cleveland, A series of Skylight Banners to enliven and brighten the space of an old building for a Collinwood Senior Center, and a rain barrel painting and upcycled arts series of workshops at a community garden in Old Brooklyn.

Through her collaboration in these impactful projects, Linda Zolten Wood actively contributes to the well-being and enrichment of senior centers and community gardens. Her dedication to nurturing community bonds, fostering creativity, and promoting sustainable practices demonstrates her unwavering commitment to improving the quality of life for all involved.

Meet Dale Goode

Meet Dale Goode

Dale A. Goode is a Cleveland-based artists and arts educator. He works primarily in photography, mixed media collage and sculpture. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Hiram College and pursued his graduate studies at Kent State University. Over the last 40 years, Mr. Goode has exhibited his work widely throughout the Midwest. His work is included in various corporate, university and institutional collections, Akron Art Museum, University Hospital of Cleveland, Hiram College and The Dalad Group. He was selected as one of the International artists to participate in Front International Triennial and has received a grant from Spaces Art Gallery.

Mr. Goode’s primary focus is spotlighting the issues and beauty of the community he represents and the people who share that community. His sculptures, paintings, and prints reflect the way he sees the world and wishes others could see it as well. His most recent bodies of work have been named RAW VISION, bodies of work which contrast what we see and what we call it. Women, Domestic Violence, Beauty, and Trash, all seen have been seen in exhibit locally and away from Cleveland over the past 2 years.

Good’s focus right now is on Domestic Violence. He thinks of domestic violence and wonders how much is carried out of our homes into the streets of our cities where it explodes in the unprepared relationships we have in our community. Patterns that we create through behavior and language shape out home as much as physical environment of doors, windows, furniture and costume. His art work reflects this by the construct of sculptures and the way he uses objects like shoes, handbags and doors to create symbolic understanding of this epidemic of violence.

Creative Impact Fund Project: Domestic Violence Is Not Pretty

This project will use doors from abandon buildings and houses to stand in as substitutes for people. Designed and built in abstract sculpture using things thrown away in the streets as we do overlooked and under served people in violent situations.

The hope is that people’s attitudes who view these sculptures that are dedicated to stopping violence will understand the impact that violence in general and Domestic Violence specifically has on a community.

Meet Mary Kay Thomas

Meet Mary Kay Thomas

Mary Kay Thomas has had a lifelong artistic practice, influenced by the women in her family who have been engaged in various artistic disciplines for multiple generations. While she has experience in jewelry and metalworking, printmaking, and drawing, Mary primarily focuses on photography-based oil/acrylic paintings as a means to capture the essence of memories.

Her inspiration stems from the experiences, people, and moments that have contributed to shaping her identity, which she seeks to immortalize in her artwork. Each piece is a gift to future generations and a tribute to her family’s artistic heritage. Mary’s family serves as her muse, and she employs a vibrant and expressive palette to celebrate the rich cultural fabric of Cleveland, deeply rooted in her lineage and connected to the broader history of Africa.

Having survived a ruptured brain aneurysm, Mary holds a deep conviction that while life can be fragile, healing comes through expression and paying homage to what is held dear. Her artistic practice extends beyond the personal realm and finds its place in the community as well. As an art educator, Mary’s work is informed by her interactions with individuals of all ages, exposing her to diverse viewpoints and enriching her creative process.

Mary actively engages with Cleveland’s art communities, such as Zygote Press and CAN Journal, which further strengthen her ties to the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland. Additionally, she has initiated her own public art project, The U and I of Euclid Ave, a Gateway to East Cleveland, and has collaborated with service-based organizations like Food Strong. Through these endeavors, Mary aims to foster a stronger connection to her community and utilize art as a medium for inspiration, encouragement, empowerment, and healing.

Creative Impact Fund Project: U & I of Euclid Avenue

U and I of Euclid Avenue is an interactive arts education program for Cleveland area youth planned and installed by Mary Kay Thomas. The project is designed to work in partnership with other organizations, specifically existing youth programs to augment engagement with art education. The U and I of Euclid Avenue is a community mural and public art series envisioned by Mary Kay Thomas.

This project will help revitalize and renew energy along Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. Upon full program completion by 2025, over fifteen murals and public art installations depicting colorful scenery, African American heritage, and historical themes relating to East Cleveland’s past will permanently change the landscape of Euclid Avenue. For this specific grant opportunity, up to 15 Shaw High School students will engage with the mural project.

The end result will be weatherized and installed in one of the three vacant lots across from Shaw High School along Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. This original mural and art installation will be designed toward promoting hometown pride and East Cleveland history. This community-engaged art project is intentionally designed so that the incremental painting and developing of the work can happen almost anywhere.

Once the piece is completed, it will be weatherized and professionally installed at its permanent location. As this project continues to grow and add finished pieces, Mary Kay Thomas shares the new installations with the greater community via social media and efforts at earned media through press releases and other means. Of course, the residents of East Cleveland will be aware of these new art installations as Euclid Avenue is the busiest transportation corridor in the community. Many of the buildings along Euclid Avenue and in the surrounding neighborhoods are vacant and in a state of significant disrepair. It is widely known that East Cleveland is the lowest income community in the State of Ohio. A heightened emphasis will be on murals placed along the Euclid Avenue corridor that will reinvigorate an area once known as “The Grand Promenade of Cleveland”.

Meet Georgio Sabino

Meet Georgio Sabino

A highly acclaimed multi-disciplinary visual artist, photographer, designer, author and educator; “I have fostered connections with business pioneers to build and develop new talent and works of art.”

Twice an official photographer at The White House for President Obama’s invitation to photograph, Two National Champions, current director at Hector Vega Studio. Georgio Sabino III continues to consistently create magic. Virginia Marti, Ursuline College, Cuyahoga Community colleges, Cleveland Entertainment Coalition, the Visit and numerous community organizations’ have emerged under Georgio’s engagement and service as a chief visionary and prime strategist. His digital art searches for dramatic lines pushing vibrant colors but depicting strong contrast between the images in each work of art. An experienced artist, businessman and educator with current participation in the professional arts and business community, he fosters real life connections with business pioneers to build and develop new talent and with a collaborative approach to create new works of art.

Sabino’s art, photographs and graphic design work conveys polyrhythmic identities striving to be heard, but especially to be seen. By concentrating on the principles of design, a thorough understanding of the relationship between the visual arts and the future of art is conveyed but by adding the next level of augmented reality to show there are no bounds. Sabino shares, “I created art that stimulates the imagination and challenges the intellect using art and technology. The viewer can explore, discover and uncover their polyrhythmic identities through art and space.”

Georgio Sabino III is a man of many talents. He is a fashion designer, artist, and a true visionary in the world of fashion and art. He was born in a small town in Ohio, and from a young age, he knew that he wanted to create beautiful things.

Growing up, Georgio would often sketch designs for clothes and accessories in his notebook. His parents, who both recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue his passion. They enrolled him in a prestigious fashion school (Kent State University), where he honed his skills and developed his unique style. After graduating, Georgio moved to NYC, the fashion capital of the world. There, he became an entrepreneur, learning everything he could about the industry. He soon launched his own fashion photography business (in Cleveland Ohio), “GS3 Art, Fashion & Photography”, which quickly became a household name.

His art and fashion were a fusion of classic and contemporary styles, with a touch of eccentricity. He was known for his use of bold colors, hand painting silks and unconventional textiles, which set him apart from other designers. He also incorporated elements of art into his collections, often collaborating with artists to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

Georgio’s runway shows are always a spectacle, with models walking down the runway wearing sculptural pieces that were as much art as they were fashion. His dream is to have his designs were worn by celebrities, royalty, and fashion influencers, and GS3 has been featured in magazines and social media.

Creative Impact Fund Project: Artistic Jungle Series

Technology advances and changes so very quickly. Artificial intelligence, surveillance and privacy issues are pervasive negative news stories in the media. However, these technological advances also provide wonderful new ways for artists and creators to express themselves. Over the last few years, Georgio Sabino III has worked with adding a technological advancement to the static universe of two-dimensional visual art and fashion design. But these are not ordinary paintings and dresses. They are augmented reality (AR) painting and dresses that come to life when you point your smart phone at them.

The dragonflies, hummingbirds and butterflies fly around the dress and room in a realistic way, creating a magical effect that surprises and delights viewers. You can also interact with them by tapping on your screen or moving your phone closer or farther away. The proposed project will be an art and fashion show where the walls of the gallery space will be filled with art for attendees to view and engage. Once the fashion shows commences, models will wear the artist’s pieces and attendees can watch the show. Even without smart phone access, the show will be vivid and dynamic. Engaging with the augmented reality component of the show will only improve audience enjoyment and the “wow” factor. Fashion pieces will be made primarily of silk with the image screen printed onto the item of clothing.

The show will be scheduled for approximately three months after the project is fully funded. A gallery in the Cleveland area will be selected based on appropriateness and availability. The project will help allay fears about future technology by demonstrating how amazing these tools can be for making art and fashion design even more dynamic.

Please see current examples of how the augmented reality works at the following links:


Meet Natasha Herbert

Meet Natasha Herbert

While some attend schools to learn a trade, others have a keen, natural ability to do it. The latter describes artists who are born with intrinsic talent, which defines Natasha Lehuanani Herbert. Her young life spent honing her skills in drawing, as an escape from a troubled childhood in the inner city of Cleveland, progressed into a passion for creation. The need to actualize her artistic desires led her to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Digital Media from Michigan State University. Upon launching her professional photography career, she realized a plethora of awe-inspiring wedding, portrait and street work. Herbert’s wedding portraits have been featured in numerous highly recognized publications like Essence, Huffington Post, and Glamour Magazine.

In 2022, she was recognized with the Allen E. Cole Excellence in Photojournalism award from the Western Reserve Historical Society. Herbert has always used photography as an outlet to relieve the stresses of her environment. In doing so, she’s achieved much success and wishes to foster and give back to youth growing up in the same circumstances that she endured. Herbert’s desire is to inspire inner-city youth in Cleveland, by creating a hands-on photography program. This program will be an outlet that provides an enriching experience for youth to learn a new, marketable skill and adopt a positive, creative hobby.

Creative Impact Fund Project: The Avenue Cleveland

Natasha Herbert will instruct and lead a photography program which will have a strong emphasis on the technical use of a DSLR camera. She will teach the youth participants how to use their eye to connect emotionally and drive them to produce images that speak and evoke some sort of response from the viewer. The program will challenge their creativity while simultaneously teaching them all of the processes of photography. For example, finding inspiration from movies by using the Rule of Thirds method, learning how to correctly use light, composing their shots, and having the capability to change their settings based on the environment. By the end of the program, the youth will have gained a definite understanding of capturing moments.

In addition, at the end of the program, the youth will have to take photos that are emotionally driven. The challenge is to take photos that are candid and evoke some sort of response from the audience. They will get their inspirations from every day life and movie scenes. At the end of The Avenue program, the photos will be printed/matted on 13 x 19 format paper, and they will have a photography exhibition to showcase their captures. Herbert plans to go to the regions of the area she feels need it most like East Cleveland, where she currently teaches at Kenneth Clement Boys’ Leadership Academy. Pamphlets will be handed to the schools and or youth facilities like recreation centers with the photography program description.

Furthermore, Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy intends to create an after school program for students in school or a week day program at the recreation centers. The project in itself is very close to home for Natasha Herbert because she grew up in the Kinsman neighborhood, which was often plagued with violence and no opportunities available to youth. She wants to show youth that there’s more out here. The goal is to encourage youth to seek and obtain success despite their environmental factors. Herbert already has extensive experience teaching 4 grade – 8th grade children about photography. She works with 15 students at the Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy. Furthermore, Herbert independently invests in and provides all current supplies and materials, i.e. cameras, lens, and lighting, for the classes that she teaches. The Avenue Cleveland Photography program will provide an explorative art and most importantly bring light to the youth in these communities that lack resources.

Meet Baba Jubal Harris

Meet Baba Jubal Harris

The African drum speaks, talks, communicates with the voice of our human ancestors . The drum has a function beyond keeping time. Rhythms speak, the voice of the drum forms a bridge between the ancestral spiritual realm and the human realm. Musical form, conforms to the limitation and necessities of time, moment by moment, day by day ,month by month, year-by-year, century by century. Music is fluid and conforms to the container of the times that constrain it. The origin, essence and sacred ancestral spirit of African American musical expression is contained within a feeling that has the power to transcend pain, agony, misery and transform bad feelings into good feelings at the cross road of destiny. Today we are in the process of global polyrhythmic revival. Our African Ancestors knew that polly rhythmic drumming accompanied by voice and musical instruments create modal vibrational phenomena. Modern science has rediscovered that wave propagation harmonics and harmonic overtones create visual patterns of sacred geometry. It is our sacred human oneness within the Divine Source of Life that gives us victory over those forces that oppose our humanity. It is our sacred music and spoken word that has the power to transform bad to good and good to greatness.

Heart Beat Drum Circle

Creative Impact Fund Project: Heart Beat Drum Circle

Heartbeat Drum Circle is a unique and inclusive gathering that brings together drummers, dancers, artists, social activists, government and business leaders, community builders, healers, and educators. The primary purpose of this collective is to express joy, love, and appreciation for the gift of life through the power of arts and rhythm.

At Heartbeat Drum Circle, all people are engaged in a holistic and sustainable arts experience that is deeply rooted in rhythmic harmony. The sound we create resonates with the human heartbeat, connecting us on a primal level. The configuration of drummers and dancers is carefully orchestrated in a circle, representing unity and equality. This dynamic circle is thoughtfully balanced by positioning participants at specific points, allowing for the free flow of hyper-dimensional energy.

The project itself involves the creative act of harmonizing divergent cultural expressions, as we understand that these diverse elements have the potential to create moments of wholeness, especially in times of great uncertainty. Heartbeat Drum Circle has successfully demonstrated the power of community cooperation, bringing people together in practical and meaningful ways.

The logistics of the project are simple yet impactful. We provide workshops for leaders to create their own Samba/Siko frame drums, empowering them with the tools to express themselves through rhythm. Participants also learn four basic poly rhythms (with the opportunity to learn more as they progress). They are then encouraged to take what they have learned back to their schools, organizations, clubs, etc., and actively recruit others to join this rhythmic movement.

To culminate this journey, participants attend a preliminary Heartbeat Drum Circle rehearsal with their respective groups, leading up to the main event in May 2024. This collective effort aims to address the pervasive issues of violence and fear within our community. We strive to reach those who are afraid to go to work, places of worship, school, or even walk the streets due to the prevailing tension and stress caused by violence.

In this environment, Heartbeat Drum Circle serves as a powerful alternative. It creates a space where respect and appreciation for life take center stage, promoting the message of “Drums Not Guns” and “Drums Not Drugs.” We firmly believe that drums are instruments of mass creation, offering an alternative to the destructive force of weapons. By participating in Heartbeat Drum Circle workshops, individuals learn self-love through self-respect and self-discipline. The drums they create become personal and collective reminders of these principles, carrying the significance of our purpose.

Ultimately, the significance of Heartbeat Drum Circle lies in its ability to foster unity, heal communities, and inspire positive change. It is a call to action for people to recognize and embrace the transformative power of drums as an instrument of mass creation, creating a path towards a more peaceful and harmonious world.