Local & State Advocacy 

Championing Public Investment in the Creative Sector 

Assembly redoubled its efforts to advocate for financial support to help accelerate the recovery of Greater Cleveland’s creative economy – which contributes more than $9.1 billion to the local economy.  

City of Cleveland

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb appointed Shaker Heights native Rhonda K. Brown to be the city’s first-ever Senior Strategist for Arts Culture & the Creative Economy. This vital position in city government will lead strategic policy initiatives to position the City as a national leader in the arts. This vital position in city government will lead, direct, manage, and plan strategic policy initiatives for the City of Cleveland to be a national leader in the arts with enhanced neighborhood vitality. Assembly for the Arts is proud to have advocated for this permanent arts and culture liaison. 

Additionally, utilizing American Rescue Plan dollars, the city allocated $3 million to a Transformative Public Arts Program. 

Cuyahoga County

Thanks to the advocacy of the Assembly board and the partnership of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC), outgoing Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Council President Pernel Jones jointly committed to $3.3M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds for arts and culture. Assembly and CAC split the funds equally, and in November 2022, Assembly distributed the rescue funds to 400 individual artists and 65 creative small businesses in Cuyahoga County. 

The ARPA for Arts funds couldn’t have come at a better time. More than 1 in 4 of the artists who applied for funding said they were concerned they wouldn’t be able to make rent, pay bills or buy food in the next two months. More than 3 in 4 artists said they often worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Assembly worked to ensure ARPA funds reached broadly into the community. 

  • 70% of artists who received funding identified as Black/African American, Native, Hispanic, Asian or Middle Eastern 

  • More than 60% of businesses that received funding were minority owned; 45% were women-owned 

  • 26% of artists self-identified as having invisible or observable disabilities

State of Ohio

In June 2023, Ohio’s state budget bill authorized Cuyahoga County arts supporters to seek an increase on the flat 30 cents-per pack cigarette tax that funds nonprofits through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Cigarette tax revenues have declined steadily each year since 2007 when the tax was enacted – from a high of $19.5 million in 2008 to $11.7 million in 2022. In total, the tax has generated more than $250 million for arts and culture nonprofits of all sizes across the County. Assembly for Action, a political action committee, is leading the work to place a tax issue before voters. 


Convening Community Leaders in Critical Conversations 

Assembly’s brings community voices together to discuss solutions to critical issues affecting the local creative economy. In these sessions, we collectively imagine possibilities and set a path forward to make change. 

Woman at table filling in survey

National Surveys

For the first time, Cleveland participated in the national Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study administered by Americans for the Arts. Assembly staff and volunteers collected more than 1,100 surveys at 172 arts venues around Cuyahoga County. AEP 6 is the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. 

Community Discussions

group of people who participated in REvision smiling
REvision-Creative Spaces at SPACES

Assembly’s REvision series is focused on re-envisioning Greater Cleveland’s creative industries as a way to build collective action towards a better world for artists, creative businesses and arts nonprofits. We led discussions on Creative Spaces for artists to live, work and create; tips for securing Creative Income to maintain artistic practice. Conversations on Guaranteed Basic Income in other cities; and how local government should support Arts in Our City are on deck. 

Quarterly Assemblies keep community members up-to-date on our efforts to help ensure everyone benefits from a diverse and equitable arts and culture sector. It is an opportunity for the public to hear updates on Assembly’s work, share ideas, and ask questions.  

These events are free for Assembly members. 

Honoring Public Officials

The 2022 Public Officials Recognition Breakfast, sponsored by KeyBank, recognized former Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Council President, Pernel Jones for providing important ARPA rescue funds to artists, creative businesses and cultural nonprofits. Arts leaders, corporate representatives, artists, and community members of all kinds attended to connect and build relationships with government officials. 

Artist Support

Assembly received a $20,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture to engage the community and develop a 2024 Support-for-Artists Plan that will identify  future structures for individual artist grant funding, , center equity, and recognize the diverse needs of Cuyahoga County-based artists (financial and non-financial). This work will also result in an Artist Advisory group at Assembly that informs and assesses artist programs and services. Assembly’s recommendations will help inform CAC’s future support for individual artists. 

Racial Equity

Strengthening Support for the Region’s Creatives

Equity is at the center of everything we do. Through our advocacy, cultural policy work and funding opportunities, we seek to redress systemic racism through building an anti-racist organization that serves artists, business owners and nonprofit leaders. We want to help them move to action to create a more equitable arts community; this includes advocating for more equitable funding to BIPOC artists and organizations and removing perceived and real barriers that currently limit all residents from participation. 

In the last year, Assembly armed creative businesses, artists and non-profits with tools to help them forge cross-sector connections, expand their knowledge and find opportunities to share their artistic point of view – all the while enriching neighborhoods across the region. 

Powered by Huntington’s Entrepreneur in Residence program, Assembly welcomed its first cohort of Arts Leadership Residents with the Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC). The program was also supported by funding from the Ohio Arts Council, The George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, and The George Gund Foundation. In keeping with Assembly’s mission, the program was delivered through a racial equity lens and provided management support, coaching, tools and $1,000 each to 25 artists.

Meet the 2023 Arts Leaders

With a $140,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Assembly for the Arts launched the Creative Impact Fund (CIF) to support the investment and growth of transformative arts projects in redlined communities in Cleveland and East Cleveland that lack arts investment. More than 140 creatives applied for 16 spots. In addition to a $6,250 stipend, each CIF awardee receives access to professional development and marketing support, industry connections, and an Assembly membership. 

CIF provides professional development, marketing support, and the opportunity make network connections. 

Meet the Artists

The Cleveland Foundation asked Cleveland Institute of Art and Assembly to lead a collaborative design project for a mural that would benefit the Hough community, CIA students and MidTown Collaboration Center stakeholders. CIA student Aniyah King’s “Growth From Within,” a mural that symbolizes growth and progress in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood and represents Hough residents’ pride and passion, will be installed at the Cleveland Foundation’s MidTown Collaboration Center when it opens in 2025.

Assembly supported 10 fiscal sponsorships totaling $170,000 in FY2023. Our fiscal sponsorship program opens access to foundation and donor funds that solely fund tax-exempt organizations. We aim to support BIPOC-owned or led nonprofits and businesses and those managed by and serving individuals with disabilities. 

View Projects and Donate

Assembly by the Numbers  


Did you know….Cleveland is one of the Top 20 most vibrant large arts communities in the country and in the top 1% of communities on measurement of arts dollars, per SMU Data Arts. Cleveland ranked best in the Midwest for the amount of total compensation paid to arts and culture employees per capita and in earned revenue from artistic programs.   


mosaic of faces of Assembly's Board of Trustees

Board and Staff  

Assembly Staff

Jeremy V. Johnson, President & CEO

Jeanita Blue, Marketing and Communications Manager 

Abby Del Río, Chief Finance & Operations Officer 

Melissa Leuenberger, Finance & Operations Associate 

Meg Matko, Director of Community Relationships 

Deidre McPherson, Chief Community Officer 

Kristin Puch, Senior Researcher and Development Officer 

LeAundra Richardson, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, Board Liaison 

Valerie Schumacher, Director of Strategic Initiatives



VEES Consulting 

Compelling Communications 


Assembly 2022-2023 Board of Trustees 

Fred Bidwell (Board Chair), FRONT International 

Kathy Blackman, Grog Shop

April Miller Boise, Intel 

Lenora Inez Brown, Independent Consultant, Dramaturg 

Talise Campbell, Djapo Cultural Arts Institute 

Mordecai Cargill, ThirdSpace Action Lab 

Carrie Carpenter, Huntington National Bank 

Paul Clark, Retired 

Kelly Falcone-Hall, Western Reserve Historical Society 

Chann Fowler-Spellman, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation 

Phyllis Harris, LGBT Community Center Greater Cleveland 

Sandra Madison, Robert P. Madison International Inc 

Clyde Miles, The Adcom Group 

Christine Nelson, Team NEO 

Chinenye Nkemere, Enlightened Solutions 

Nahomy Ortiz-Garcia, OverDrive 

Tony Panzica, Panzica Construction Company 

Barbara Robinson, Retired 

Vince Robinson, Larchmere Cultural Arts 

Marika Shioiri-Clark, SOSHL Studio 

Tony Sias, Karamu House 

Paul Westlake, DLR Group 

Shanelle Smith Whigham, Keybank 

Leonard Young, Morgan Conservatory 

Zulma Zabala, The Center for Community Solutions 

Ex Officio 

Nancy Mendez, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture 

Michele Scott Taylor, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture 

Charna Sherman, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (2021-2023) 

Aseelah Shareef, Cleveland Arts Prize 

Board Transitions. Assembly gratefully acknowledges the service of out-going board members Nahomy Ortiz-Garcia, and ex officio Charna Sherman of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Assembly was saddened by the passing of founding board member Barbara Robinson, a beloved regional and national advocate for arts and culture 


Button membership

Become an Assembly Member 

Your Assembly membership supports our work in advocacy, activism, racial equity, and bringing more creative resources to the arts. As a member, you’ll receive benefits like our Cadence e-newsletter, free or discounted event, one-on-one meetings with our staff, and promotional support for your events. You’ll also have access to resources like artist profiles, the Rapid Action Grant, the Membership Directory, and participation in unique Affinity Groups, in addition to other benefits.  

Join us today at  https://assemblycle.org/become-a-member/. to become a member and contribute to Greater Cleveland’s thriving arts community. 

Learn More


ClevelandArtsEvents.com connects you to Cuyahoga County’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Cleveland Arts Events is supported by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, in collaboration with Assembly for the Arts.   

With ClevelandArtsEvents.com, you can easily navigate through a wide range of events and opportunities. Whether you’re an artist looking to exhibit your work or a musician seeking grants and funding or an audience member seeking the latest events information, this website covers it.  

Launch Site

2022-2023 Members of Assembly for the Arts

Corporate, Small Business, Nonprofit Members

  • America SCORES Cleveland
  • Art Therapy Studio
  • Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
  • Arts Impact
  • ATNSC: Center for Healing and Creative Leadership
  • Avidity Art Development
  • Barbara's Fiber Art
  • Beck Center for the Arts
  • Borderlight Festival
  • Broadway School of Music & the Arts
  • Chagrin Arts
  • City of Shaker Heights
  • Cleveland Arts Education Consortium
  • Cleveland Clinic Arts & Medicine
  • Cleveland Institute of Art
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Cleveland Jazz Orchestra
  • Cleveland Print Room
  • Collective Arts Network
  • Culey Design
  • Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
  • Dance Evert
  • Dobama Theatre
  • Foundry Project Arts Incubator
  • Gray Panther Media
  • Greater Cleveland Film Commission
  • Greater Cleveland Urban Film Foundation
  • GroundWorks DanceTheater
  • Happy Dog
  • Heights Arts
  • In Harmony Therapeutic Services
  • Janus Small Associates
  • Julie Schenkelberg
  • Kings & Queens of Art
  • LAND studio
  • LatinUs Theater Company
  • LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
  • Margaret Reardon Marketing
  • moCa Cleveland
  • Mojuba Dance Collective
  • Palmer Event Solutions
  • Pinwheel Gallery
  • RBI Sound
  • resolute, LLC
  • Rhythmic Art Studio Inc
  • T.E.T. Entertainment LLC
  • The 961 Collective
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art
  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • The Cogent Company
  • The Dark Room Co.
  • The Sculpture Center
  • University Circle Inc.
  • Vanessa Faith Art LLC
  • Waterloo Arts

Individual Members

  • Kamal Abdul-Alim
  • Andrew Bednarski, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
  • Dar'Jon Bentley
  • Rachel Bernstein, Heights Arts
  • Mansa Bey, Read.Write.Recite Literacy Guild
  • Odin Blak, Dark Blak Studios
  • Robin Blake, Creation: A Celebration of Art, Music, and Life
  • Moises Borges
  • Carolina Borja
  • Weedie Braimah, Weedie Braimah & The Hands of Time
  • Michelle Broome
  • Lenora Brown, Raising Results
  • Amy Budish
  • Frederick Burton, Gospel Music Historical Society
  • Kasey Butler
  • Talise Campbell, Djapo Cultural Arts Institute
  • Mordecai Cargill, ThirdSpace Action Lab
  • Tricia Chaves, Xirho Group LLC
  • Grace Chin, The Sculpture Center
  • Paul Clark, PNC
  • Paula Coggins, OSPI
  • Margaret Cohen, Rahilly Solutions
  • Jennifer Coleman, The George Gund Foundation
  • Dronet Danielle
  • Maria DeRyke, Cultivate Advancement
  • Deanna Dionne, Made Cleveland
  • Malik Fadzl, LFTG RECORDS
  • Kelly Falcone-Hall, Western Reserve Historical Society
  • Jennifer Feierabend
  • Chann Fowler-Spellman The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation
  • Kyra Frierson
  • Ed Gallagher, Beck Center for the Arts
  • Christopher Gelles
  • Stacy Geohaghan, Stacy-Nicole Geohaghan
  • Erma George, Amra Home Accents llc
  • John Gest
  • Ahlon González, LAND Studio
  • Dale Goode, Domestic Violence Is Not Pretty
  • Charlotte Gouveia, PwC
  • Tracy Greenberg
  • Sherrie Hauser-Simmons
  • Sonya Hayes
  • David Heller, The NRP Group
  • Jada Hobson, INDI Media
  • Genell Hudson
  • Patricia Hughes, Art House, Inc.
  • Andrea Jackson, CAP ACADEMY
  • Johnathon Jamison, THA League Management’s
  • Sheldron Johnson
  • David Kay, University School
  • Christina Keegan, Cleveland Natural Building
  • Martin Kohn, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College Of Medicine
  • Sandy Kreisman, University Circle Inc.
  • Josh Landis, United Way
  • Angelia Lee
  • Shawn Lee-Jones, The Creative Healing Foundation
  • Gregory Lockhart, A Source of Pride  - The Story of the East Cleveland Chiefs
  • Jazmin Long, Birthing Beautiful Communities
  • Letitia Lopez, Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center
  • Amanda Lott, Studio Lott
  • Allison Lukacsy-Love, Phone Gallery
  • Pat Meade, Creative Works, Inc.
  • Clyde Miles, Adcom
  • Jerry Miller, zone music inc. (humachine)
  • April Miller-Boise, Intel
  • Sharon Milligan, Case Western Reserve University
  • Scott Mueller, Dealer Tire LLC
  • Sylvia Munodawafa, Accessible Art for All Project
  • Christine Nelson, Team NEO
  • Chinenye Nkemere, Enlightened Solutions
  • AkuSika Nkomomackey, Africa House Enterprise
  • Tony Panzica, Panzica Construction Co.
  • Clarisa Pearl, Pearlystic Productions
  • Shayna Pentecost, srpglass
  • Karen Prasser, Chagrin Arts
  • Bellamy Printz, Deep Dive Art Projects
  • Sarah Raban, Pinwheel Gallery
  • Andrew Ratcliff
  • Cierra Rembert, SPACES
  • Vince Robinson, Larchmere Cultural Arts
  • Kole Robinson-Brooks, Kole Artistry
  • April Roth
  • Vanessa Rubin, Vocalist/Recording Artist
  • Georgio Sabino, Building Bridges
  • Kayli Salzano, artist
  • Julie Schabel, Wave Space Summer Camps at CPL
  • Charna Sherman, Sherman Law
  • Marika Shioiri-Clark
  • Tony Sias, Karamu House
  • Lena Simovic, Lena Atomika
  • Shanelle Smith-Whigham, KeyBank
  • David Snider,
  • Charmaine Spencer
  • Ngina Terrence, Bossantii Music Group
  • Veronica Thornton, Vee's Consulting LLC
  • Peter Tompkins, Yes: The Secret to Life
  • Diane Troyer
  • Pamelia Tyree
  • Susan Underwood, Robust Energies, Inc
  • Alicia Vasquez
  • Emanuel Wallace
  • Gina Washington, 2 Morrow's Blackhouse
  • Paul Westlake, DLR Group Westlake
  • Sandi White, Shaker Arts Council (SHAC)
  • Rebekah Wilhelm, Rebekah Wilhelm Studio
  • Sumica Williams, Inner Canvas,  and Reiki Infused  Journaling for Women
  • Regennia Williams, RASHAD Center, Inc.
  • Michael Wilson, Michael Wilson USA
  • Alexandria Woyton, Weigh Street Studios
  • Leonard Young
  • Zulma Zabala, The Center For Community Solutions