Guaranteed Basic Income

|| Thursday, October 12 / 6:00 – 7:30 pm. || What would it look like if artists could work knowing they’d receive a guaranteed paycheck every month to supplement their creative work? Other cities are trying this. Join the discussion to learn how they’re doing it and what this could mean in Cleveland’s arts community.

What is guaranteed income? Defined by Springboard for the Arts, an artist support organization in Minneapolis, “A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals. It’s unconditional with no strings attached and no work requirements and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, existing social safety nets and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.”

Learn more about Springboard’s Guaranteed Income Pilot program and discuss this concept as a group with Assembly.

This conversation hosted as part of REvision, a series of community discussions focused on reimagining and addressing key challenges faced by Greater Cleveland’s arts and culture industry. Register to attend this free conversation.

Registration isn’t required but will help us plan for the best discussion possible. Accessible location coming soon!

Karamu House, 10 people on stage with colorful lighting hold their arms out

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture approves 2023 grants for six organizations

Source: Karin Connelly Rice, Freshwater Cleveland

Date: December 15, 2022

Abstract: At its regular meeting of the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture board of trustees yesterday, Wednesday, Dec. 14, the board voted to approve six Northeast Ohio arts organizations for 2023 grant funding.

The board approved resident-led arts and culture grants to Neighborhood Connections and ioby in our own back yards). Neighborhood Connections received $60,500 to co-fund resident-led projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland and host five in-person gatherings for artists, arts & culture organizations, and residents in 2023; while ioby received $100,000 for the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Fund to support resident-led arts and culture projects in Cuyahoga County in 2023.

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Access to Funds

|| Thursday, July 13 / 6:00 – 7:30 pm. || Securing the money needed to maintain a creative practice is often a full-time job. Whether it’s gig work, grant seeking, product sales, commissions or multiple part-time jobs, artistic income is typically patchworked together through multiple sources. What are some alternative methods of generating income and how can we take an active role in redefining our approach to funding creative work?

Join the discussion and learn more about systems like fiscal sponsorship, low and no interest loans and other methods for accessing capital.

This conversation hosted as part of REvision, a series of community discussions focused on reimagining and addressing key challenges faced by Greater Cleveland’s arts and culture industry. Register to attend this free conversation.

Registration isn’t required but will help us plan for the best discussion possible. Accessible location coming soon!

Creative Spaces

|| Thursday, April 13 / 6:00 – 7:30 pm. ||

Our creative community is facing a serious issue of access to the space they need to live, work and create. What resources are available to help artists and creative businesses access space to live, work, rehearse, present, and host events? Hear insights from a panel of city officials, artists, and developers. Network and brainstorm real solutions to space access and ownership.

This conversation hosted as part of REvision, a series of community discussions focused on reimagining and addressing key challenges faced by Greater Cleveland’s arts and culture industry. Register to attend this free conversation.

Location: SPACES 900 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, OH 44113

Registration isn’t required but will help us plan for the best discussion possible. This is an person event. Accessible location coming soon!

2022 Public Officials Honor Roll

Many public officials throughout Northeast Ohio have supported arts and culture for years. All that these representatives have done and continue to do to make arts and culture a true partner does not go unnoticed. Thank you for continuing to build policies supportive of arts and culture, and also, thank you for continuing to include and call on creative industries to help you meet the needs of your communities.

In recognition of their attendance at the Public Officials Recognition Breakfast that indicates their acknowledgement of the importance of arts and culture, the 2022 Arts and Culture Honor Roll includes the following individuals. Thank you for all you do, to ensure Northeast Ohio arts and culture communities not only thrive, but remain embedded into the fabric of our region.

  • Senator Nickie Antonio, Ohio General Assembly
  • Mayor Richard Bain, Pepper Pike
  • Mayor Annette Blackwell, City of Maple Heights
  • Dr. Patricia Blochowiak, East Cleveland City Council
  • County Executive Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County
  • Councilman Greg Burger, City of Fairview Park
  • Councilman Kevin Conwell, City of Cleveland
  • Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, Cuyahoga County
  • Councilwoman Chanell Elston, City of South Euclid
  • Meryl Johnson, Ohio State Board of Education
  • Council President Pernel Jones, Cuyahoga County Council
  • Councilman Judson Kline, Orange Village
  • Council President Paul Marnecheck, City of North Royalton
  • Council President Nathaniel Martin, City of East Cleveland
  • Judge Lauren Moore, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Judge Andrea Nelson-Moore, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Representative Phillip Robinson, Ohio House of Representatives
  • Councilman Richard Scott, City of Brookpark
  • Charna Sherman, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Board of Trustees
  • Brian Siggers, Ohio Environmental Council

Assembly for the Arts opens applications for ARPA funding to artists and creative businesses

Source: Freshwater Cleveland

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2022


Assembly for the Arts (Assembly), a cultural nonprofit that strengthens and supports those who create, present, experience and appreciate all forms of arts and culture, announced on Monday, Aug. 22 that applications are now open for creative workers and for-profit creative businesses to apply for funding made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) through Cuyahoga County Council and the County executive Armond Budish.

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Guidelines - ARPA for Arts

Cuyahoga ARPA for Arts Program | Funding for Individual Artists and Creative Businesses

Cuyahoga County has dedicated $3.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture sector, which has experienced devastating loss of revenue and jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

$1.65 million will be distributed to arts and culture nonprofits through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. $1.65 million will be distributed to for-profit creative businesses and individual artists through Assembly for the Arts. The funding will provide critical recovery support to Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture communities.

Program Overview

Assembly for the Arts is managing the distribution of $1.65 million in funds earmarked to support Cuyahoga County’s for-profit creative businesses and artists/cultural workers. These funds will be allocated as follows:

For-Profit Creative Business $750,750
Artists $750,750
Administrative costs $148,500

Please note: All costs must comply with any Guidance, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers issued by the federal government or State of Ohio, which includes without limitation, U.S. Treasury, Office of Inspector General, the Ohio Auditor of State, and the Ohio Office of Budget and Management.

Applicants may apply to either the Artist or Business program. Applicants may not apply to or receive funds from both programs.

If you are unsure which program you should apply to, please see eligibility guidelines for definitions and requirements for both programs below.

* Due to limited funds, not all eligible applicants are guaranteed to receive a Cuyahoga ARPA allocation.

Individual Artists

Funding is available for independent, creative professionals that derive income from their art and are:

LOCAL: Reside in Cuyahoga County

PROFESSIONALLY CREATIVE:  Have been deriving income from creating, performing, teaching or assisting in the development of work in the disciplines of Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art or Writing, prior to March 1, 2020.

Applicants must provide evidence of creative work through sample images and/or electronic files or online information [e.g. websites, social media pages, etc.] indicating, work that has been created within the last five (5) years [e.g. websites, social media pages, etc.]

HAVE LOST INCOME: Lost income, or performance exhibition opportunities due to cancellations and closures after March 1, 2020

GIG WORKERS: Derive income from their creative practice through contract or gig work. Artists must not earn revenue through a registered creative business applying for the ARPA business program

ADULTS: Are at least 18 years old

LEGAL RESIDENTS: Can provide a SSN or tax ID number

  • Limited to one application per artist. Duplicate applications will not be accepted
  • Artists are ineligible if they:
    • Serve in an executive role at a nonprofit applying for ARPA funds through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
    • Own or manage a creative business applying for ARPA funding through Assembly for the Arts
    • Are employees, board members, directors, or officers of Assembly for the Arts, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) or the Arts and Culture Action Committee (ACAC)

Funding determinations will be made based on the number of eligible applicants and will not exceed $2500.

All applications will be reviewed for funding determination after the September 30, 2022 deadline. Fund allocations will be determined based on a set of criteria including reported percentage income losses between 2019 through 2021 and a points value system that will be based on the following:

  • Census Tract Data
  • Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Social Determinants / Risk Factors

Census tract data will be collected through reverse residential address search using a verified census tool. Household size and income will be self-reported by applicants and used to determine where each applicant falls within the Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2022 in Ohio.

Social determinants and additional risk factors will be assessed using a series of questions related to financial, medical, food, housing, family and transportation security. *Questions and factors below in Appendix A

Priority will be given to those most impacted by pandemic closures including low-income families, high percentage of income losses due to business closures and individuals who are at greater risk due to having been historically marginalized. Informed by the Grantmakers in the Arts’ “Racial Equity: Statement of Purpose,” these communities include: African and African American; Latino/a; Asian and Asian American; Arab; Native American; Pacific Islander; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer; transgender and gender variant people; people with disabilities; and women.

Demographic information will not be included in the application and will not be used in making final funding determinations. Assembly will collect this data from those who receive funds through the program and will be used for reporting and program assessment.

  1. I am worried or concerned that in the next two months I may not have stable housing that I own, rent or stay in as a part of a household.
  2. Within the past 12 months, I was worried that my food would run out before I got money to buy more.
  3. I have not been able to travel to work or acquire household or medical essentials because of
    distance and/or because I lack access to transportation.
  4. In the past 12 months I have had the electric, gas, oil, or water company threaten to shut off or actually shut off services in my home.
  5. Problems getting child care make it difficult for me to work or study.
  6. I do not currently have a job.
  7. I often or sometimes worry that I don’t have enough money to pay my bills.
  8. I have experienced discrimination due to my race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and/or disability
  9. My neighborhood has a high rate of violence, unsafe air or water, and/or other health and safety risks.
  10. I have been unable to seek medical care due to a lack of health insurance.

Addressing the issues of:

  • Loss of full-time, part-time or contract-based work due to COVID-19
  • Lack of financial safety net
  • Unmanageable debt
  • High risk or chronic health conditions
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Living with a disability (physical, invisible, other)
  • Financial responsibility for dependents
  • Single parent status
  • Refugee status
  • Lack of access to reliable transportation
  • Unstable housing / lack of housing security
  • Of a group that experiences health disparities
  • Offering creative practice for free due to school and business closures
  • Additional costs directly resulting from COVID-19

These funds are to support individuals who are facing economic hardships due to COVID-19 pandemic. Having previously received CARES funding or other Coronavirus federal relief programs does not exclude artists from applying. However, Cuyahoga ARPA for Arts funds may not be used for costs you have incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or related directives or executive orders that have been PREVIOUSLY COVERED by the federal government via prior CARES Act funding or other federal relief programs. Reporting expenses for Cuyahoga ARPA that have been previously covered by other federal relief funding (will or may) result in returning your allocation to the federal government.

These funds may be used for:

  • current and new living expenses
  • childcare expenses
  • rent, equipment and art materials
  • other necessary items to maintain your artistic practice and future economic stability through that creative practice.

These funds may not be used for:

  • Expenses already covered by previous federal relief funding programs
  • Legal settlements
  • Workforce bonuses
  • Severance pay
  • Reimbursements
  • Political campaigns or candidates
  • Illegal activity

Funded artists will have the option to have their name released publicly as part of the ARPA for Arts funding program and will be required to report to Assembly for the Arts on how funds were spent.

Creative Small Businesses

Funding is available for businesses that are:

LOCAL: Headquartered in Cuyahoga County

IN BUSINESS: Currently in business and have been fully operational prior to March 1, 2020

SMALL: Employ 50 or fewer Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees

HAVE LOST REVENUE: Can demonstrate at least a 45% decline in revenue between 2019 and 2021

LEGAL: Registered as a corporation, limited liability company or partnership

EMPLOYERS: Must employ Full Time Employees (FTEs), not contractors only

ARTS SUPPORTIVE: Must support artists through your business model

  • Eligible businesses must be able to indicate that a portion of their overall business revenue is consistently dedicated to the support of other creatives and artists. This includes, but is not limited to, things like hiring artists, supporting artists and creatives in the community through programming, paying artists for their work to support your business, offering goods and services that benefit artists or enable them to present their work.

CREATIVE: Must meet a shared definition of Creative Business:

  • A for-profit entity which contributes to the Cuyahoga County arts and culture economy through the sale of goods or services that fall within the categories of Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional/Folk Arts, Visual Art or Writing.

If you have a question about whether or not your business qualifies as a creative business, please contact Assembly at

Having previously received federal CARES Act funding in 2020 does not preclude businesses from applying. However, priority will be given to those businesses who have not previously received CARES Act funding in Cuyahoga County.

  • Limited to one application per business/TIN-EIN number.
  • Businesses are ineligible if they are
    • Publicly-traded
    • Multinational
    • Currently in receivership or bankruptcy
    • The business owner serves in an executive role at a nonprofit applying for ARPA funds through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
    • The business owner is applying for ARPA funds as an Artist through Assembly for the Arts
    • Business owner is an employee, board member, director, or officer of Assembly for the Arts, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) or Assembly for Action

Eligible businesses will receive up to the maximum funding amount for their budget size:

Annual Revenue Max Funding Amount
 $1,000,000+ $45,000
 $500,000 to $999,999 $25,000
$100,000 to $499,999 $10,000
less than $100,000 $5,000


Fund allocations will be determined based on a set of criteria including reported percentage revenue losses between 2019 through 2021. Businesses are required to indicate a 45% decline in revenue based on reported gross revenue from calendar years 2019 through 2021. Businesses are additionally required to report their incurred 2021 expenses. Expense totals will not be used in determining grant size but will be used to validate budget size.

Should the number of businesses applying for ARPA funds exceed the amount of available dollars, funding determinations will be made using a points value system, based on the following:

  • Census tract data
  • Marginalized group factors
  • Previous receipt of CARES funding from Arts Cleveland

These funds are to support small creative for-profit businesses facing economic hardships due to COVID-19 pandemic. Having previously received CARES funding or other Coronavirus federal relief programs does not exclude businesses from applying. However, Cuyahoga ARPA for Arts funds may not be used for costs you have incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or related directives or executive orders that have been PREVIOUSLY COVERED by the federal government via prior CARES Act funding or other federal relief programs. Reporting expenses for Cuyahoga ARPA that have been previously covered by other federal relief funding may result in returning your allocation to the federal government.

This funding may be used for:

  • Rent and/or mortgage assistance
  • Staff Retention
  • Emergency planning/staff training
  • Additional security/safety personnel
  • PPE Items
  • COVID-19 venue upgrades, including purchase of other new equipment or software for safety protocols
  • Insurance premiums
  • Licenses, fees, real estate and other local taxes
  • Utilities
  • Existing loans
  • Recouping deferred expenses due to cancelled events including artist deposits, ticket refunds, etc.
  • Special projects
  • Support for artists and creators

Funding may not be used for:

  • Unrelated real estate
  • Costs previously covered by federal pandemic relief programs
  • Legal settlements
  • Workforce bonuses
  • Severance pay reimbursements
  • Political campaigns or candidates
  • Illegal activity

City of Cleveland - Recommendations for an Arts-Inclusive City

The creative and cultural industries in Cleveland are a core part of our city’s success and vitality.

We define arts and culture in its broadest sense encompassing art forms ranging from traditional to contemporary. According to data from Creative Vitality Suite, in 2019, the City of Cleveland had 15,849 jobs by creative industries alone, generating $2.9b in sales within our local economy. While arts and culture drive economic growth and regional tourism, research also consistently reveals the positive influence the arts have on other sectors including education, healthcare, public safety, mental health, community revitalization and our region’s competitiveness in other markets.

Despite the facts, Cleveland is still one of the largest cities in the country that does not currently support or promote arts and culture in its government structure. A permanent infrastructure and City Arts and Culture Liaison with a clear set of goals and strategies, will allow our city to leverage the potential of our arts and cultural assets, as well as provide muchneeded support and recognition for our creative workers. The mayor has publicly recognized the need for an arts-supportive infrastructure and we are confident this promise will be delivered on.

The following recommendations were developed with the arts and culture community, facilitated by Assembly for the Arts.

Create an Infrastructure in City Hall Dedicated to the Creative and Cultural Industries


  1. Secure the right person for a cabinet-level position for arts and culture (see ROLES)
  2. Establish and work with an arts and culture community advisory group, comprised of individual artists and representatives of nonprofit organizations and creative businesses
  3. Recognize and leverage the work of current city staff dedicated to arts and culture. Establish an arts and culture line item in the administration’s budget to support the work outlined below
  4. Infuse arts and culture into the city’s committee structures and departments, such as community development, economic development, health and human services, public safety and education

Selecting an individual to lead these efforts within the administration will be critical. We recommend the establishment of an Arts and Culture Community Advisory group to supply necessary information about the local creative and cultural economy to aid the mayor in making informed decisions on potential candidates, as well as purpose and goal development for the Department of Cultural Affairs. To jumpstart this process, we recommend working with existing and established arts community coalitions including: Artist Bridge Coalition, Assembly for the Arts, Black Local Artists of Cleveland – Kuumba, Cleveland Arts Education Consortium, Collective Arts Network, National Independent Venue Association and Third Space Action Lab.  

Budgeting will be equally important – developing a process to determine both the amount of available funding within the existing budget and how much will be needed to carry out the goals of the department is a necessary initial step.  

Establish Purpose and Role of the Arts Infrastructure and Arts Liaison

The definition and title of the cabinet-level position will be important in setting the tone for the department and scope for which it will engage with, include and represent the community. Defining the department’s role(s) clearly will lay the groundwork for successful implementation of the Phase 4 work.   

Recommendations: Select the best candidate

  1. Carefully consider the position title and how it will represent both community and city; consider traditional, non-traditional, contemporary and historic arts practices   
  2. Ensure the candidate is deeply embedded and connected to the arts community 
  3. Ensure the candidate has a strong understanding of DEI, BIPOC communities and Accessibility practices 
  4. Ensure the candidate is equitable in their approach to the arts community 

Recommendations: Define the Department’s Role

  1. Manage a coordinated effort to empower and promote the work of all Cleveland’s arts and culture stakeholders 
  2. Oversee and manage the identity of Cleveland as an arts city 
  3. Assist the mayor in developing an effective narrative about the power of the arts and their relationship to the city 
  4. Coordinate and steward a downtown arts and culture district, which includes a cohesive and well-communicated programming agenda 

Sanction and Execute a City Cultural Planning Process Driven by Cleveland’s Arts Communities 

A key component of the newly developed city arts infrastructure will be the execution of a city-wide cultural planning process. This process will enable the city to identify needs, scope the landscape of the arts community and develop a set of strategies and tactics to support the arts community, leverage our creative and cultural assets and increase resident engagement with arts and culture 

Recommendations: Cultural Plan

  1. Establish a creative and cultural industry taskforce specified for this process
  2. Identify a research scope to launch the cultural plan process

1: Allocate ARPA funds to the arts and culture sector in 2022 

Allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to creative businesses, nonprofits and individual artists across the City of Cleveland who have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic will act as both a substantive and symbolic effort in the new administration’s support of the creative and cultural economy. We recommend working with Assembly for the Arts and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture to bring this funding distribution to fruition. 

2: Center Arts and Culture in Racial Equity and Inclusion and Other City-wide Planning 

Integrate arts and culture into city taskforces addressing Racism as a Public Health Crisis  

2a. Integrate arts and culture into efforts around improving internal city affairs processes including government policies contributing to the systemic racism, siloed departments, city staff communications and morale, slow response rates for residents and others 

2b. Partner with arts and cultural groups to enhance public safety efforts 

2c. Prioritize neighborhood cultural preservation 

3: Expand the City’s Definition of Arts and Culture  

Cleveland’s arts and culture sector and creative industries represent a broad range of individuals, cultures, institutions, organizations, disciplines, events and experiences. Recognizing and understanding the contributions that all parts of the creative ecosystem make to our city’s vibrancy, economic development and overall progress will be key when developing an effective narrative of Cleveland as an arts-rich city 

3a. Include individual artists, creative for-profit businesses and arts and culture nonprofits in the city department scope of work 

3b. Recognize an expanded range of creative disciplines in city-wide arts and culture planning decisions, including but not limited to craft, dance, design, film, literature, media, music, performance, theatre and visual arts 

4: Develop a Cohesive Multi-Disciplinary Arts Programming Agenda 

4a. Establish a City of Cleveland Artist in Residence program 

4b. Sustain public art programming including funding for the established Mural My Neighborhood program 

4c. Support BIPOC Creative workers through commissions, grants and fellowships 

4d. Build a cohesive arts events communication structure. Continue and build upon arts programming from the prior administration 

5: Elevate and Protect Creative Workers Driving Neighborhood Development 

The arts and culture communities have been core partners in the successful redevelopment of Cleveland’s most notable destination neighborhoods like Tremont, Gordon Square, and the Waterloo Arts District. Artists and creative businesses are often the driving forces and pioneers for these redevelopment efforts. We recommend a coordinated effort to mitigate gentrification and the displacement of the creative people and businesses in these and other developing areas. 

5a. Work within community development programs and policies to extend support to artists and creative businesses 

5b. Invest in arts spaces for necessary accessibility-related infrastructure updates

5c. consider a reduced tax rate for the sale of artwork and tax abatements for renovation 

5d. Consider piloting programs to standardize wages and guarantee basic income for creative workers  

5e. Address the admissions tax for small and mid-size music venues 

5f. Reduce restrictive permitting and lessen bureaucracy for events, such as  outdoor arts events, busking, and other publicly restricted arts activities 

6: Work Closely with CMSD to Enhance Arts Education 

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has committed $32M for Year 1 of a District-wide Arts Plan for K-12 students. We recommend the administration support the continuation of this new plan: 

6a. Partner with CMSD’s Director of Arts Education and the Cleveland Arts Education Consortium 

6b. Communicate with large and small arts organizations providing school programming to understand needs 

6c. Support safe and equitable student access to these arts programs during out of school time 

6d. Support the District’s tech needs and purchase of visual art supplies and musical instruments  

7: Brand Cleveland as an Arts City 

7a. Partner with Destination Cleveland and Assembly for the Arts to expand and better define arts promotion 

7b. Include arts and culture prominently on the City’s website  

7c. Promote a developed narrative that speaks to the power of arts and culture and its importance within the city and across sectors 

The following items are recommended as priority goals for the City Arts and Culture Liaison and corresponding staff structure 

Cleveland Arts Prize Announces 2021 Award Winners

(Cleveland, Ohio) — Cleveland Arts Prize Board of Trustees announce the 2021 Award Winners in the following categories:


Emerging Artist awarded to two artists currently living in Northeast Ohio who have already created significant work or projects and show remarkable promise for further development of their artistic careers.

Mourning [A] BLKstar (Music)

James Longs - vocals, LaToya Kent - vocals, Kyle Kidd - vocals, Dante Foley - drums, Theresa May - trumpet, Pete Saudek - Guitar/keys, William Washington - trombone, RA Washington - samplers/bass

Mourning [A] BLKstar is a collective of musicians, writers and multimedia artists formed in Cleveland, Ohio. In dialogue with Hip Hop production techniques and live instrumentation, M[A]B bears witness to the pathways and frequencies that have sustained the African Diaspora and beyond. Since 2016, Mourning [A] BLKstar has received critical acclaim for their five recordings and had the opportunity to share bills and tour in support of some of this generation's most amazing musical outfits including US Girls, Oshun, Algiers, Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio/Ice Balloons), and the legendary Doom Gospel pioneers, ONO.

In 2019, M[A]B performed at The Kennedy Center in the nation's capital and their fourth full length release, Reckoning was released by Don Giovanni Records to rave reviews. The Wire Magazine's Neil Kulkarni said this about the collective's work - "It is, impossibly, even better than Garner and one of the finest albums of 2019 thus far, from a band whose importance is fast becoming evident."

In 2020, M[A]B released a double album entitled, The Cycle which garnered the collective massive praise from NPR All Songs Considered, AFROPUNK, and The Wire Magazine.

Lauren Yeager (Visual Arts)

Lauren Yeager (born 1987 in Nashville, Tennessee; lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio) is a conceptual artist working in sculpture and photography. Utilizing found objects and landscapes, she preserves the identities of these familiar components while reconfiguring them into abstract compositions. The works have the ability to fluctuate between contexts, to be both formal works and relics of personal histories and daily monotony.

Yeager is the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award 2019 and 2021. Her works have been exhibited extensively throughout Cleveland, with notable exhibitions including FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, 2018. Women to Watch: Ohio, Reinberger Galleries, 2015. Realization is Better than Anticipation, MOCA Cleveland, 2013, and currently Sculpture Milwaukee 2021, for which she recently completed four outdoor sculpture
commissions. Her works are included in the collections of the Cleveland Clinic, Metro-Health, Worthington Yards, and the Progressive Collection. She holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and is represented by Abattoir Gallery in Cleveland.

Mid-Career Artist awarded to two artists who have resided in Northeast Ohio and whose work has received both regional acclaim and national recognition.

Alice Ripley (Theatre & Dance)

Alice Ripley is a Tony award-winning actor and Kent State University alumna. Alice appeared in Playhouse Square as Diana in Next to Normal and Fantine in Les Miserables. Original Broadway Cast credits include: Next to Normal, (Tony award, Best Actress in a Musical), Side Show (Tony nomination), American Psycho, The Rocky Horror Show, James Joyce's The Dead, Sunset Boulevard, The Who's Tommy. Off-Broadway/Regional: The Pink Unicorn (Holmdel Theatre Company), Civil War Christmas (NYTW), Cather County (Playwright's Horizons), Five Flights (Rattlestick Theatre), Sunset Boulevard, (NSMT), Company (Kennedy Center), Television: GIRLBOSS, Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, Hee Haw. Film: The Pink Unicorn, SUGAR!, Isn’t It Delicious, The Adulterer, Sing Along, Muckland, Bear With Us. Cabaret: Ripley Prescription (2019 BWW NJ Award), Unattached (Available on Broadway Records). Original Streaming Music: Drive, Pieces, Calling All Angels, Beautiful Eyes (available on all platforms). Ms. Ripley works on canvas with acrylic and mixed media, and paints and designs digitally. Alice is an accomplished songwriter, playing guitar and drums live with her band, RIPLEY, and on her self-produced records Everything's Fine, OUTTASITE, and RIPLEY EP.

Corrie Slawson (Visual Arts)

Corrie Slawson’s work explores forms and narratives related to social and environmental equity. The Cleveland Heights native earned her BFA at Parsons School of Design in New York and her MFA at Kent State University. Her work has been exhibited in the US and internationally, including at MOCA Cleveland, The Toledo Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, The Massillon Museum, Centro Culturel de Tijuana, SPACES and in Dresden and Sardinia. She has received two Individual Artist Awards from the Ohio Arts Council (2012 and 2019). With support from SPACES Satellite Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation and Akron Soul Train, Corrie and a team of NE Ohio-based artists produced Feast: a ballet, the film adaptation of which was awarded a Gold Laurel at the Virgin Spring Cinefest in Kolkata, India. Slawson is part-time faculty in the Painting and Drawing Department at KSU School of Art. Her work is represented by Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Gallery in Cleveland, OH.

Lifetime Achievement awarded to one artist who has worked in Northeast Ohio over a period of decades and whose artistic achievements have brought distinction to the artist individually and to our region as a whole.

Raymond McNiece (Literature)

Ray McNiece has authored eleven books of poems and monologues and CDs, most recently Love Song for Cleveland, a collaboration with photographer Tim Lachina and Breath Burns Away, New Haiku. The Orlando Sentinel reporting on Ray’s solo theater piece “Us — Talking Across America” at the Fringe Festival called him “a modern day descendant of Woody Guthrie.

He has a way with words and a wry sense of humor.” He toured Russia with Yevgeny Yevtushenko, appeared on Good Morning, Russia and performed at the Moscow Polytech, the Russian Poets’ Hall of Fame, where he was described as a born poet and performer. He has toured Italy twice with legendary Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He fronts the band Tongue-in-Groove. Among many awards, he received a Creative Workforce Fellowship and residencies at The Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Jack Kerouac House. He is currently Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights.


The Robert P. Bergman Prize is awarded to an individual whose life and work are illuminated by an energetic and inspiring dedication to a democratic vision of art. The Bergman Prize recognizes the highest possible expression of art stewardship through long term commitment.

Dr. Joseph J. Garry, Jr.

Joseph Garry’s contributions to Cleveland theater and northeast Ohio are immeasurable. In the early 1970s, Garry’s production of the cabaret-style musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was chosen to bring audiences back to PlayhouseSquare—which it did for two-and-a-half years and 550 performances, the longest theatrical run in the state of Ohio. Along with his contributions to PlayhouseSquare theaters, Garry has created and directed numerous record-breaking productions, a travel and arts show on PBS with his late partner David Frazier, “Odysseys & Ovations“, plus 30 original theater scripts which were presented around the world. Garry has staged concerts for legends that include Ray Charles and Rosemary Clooney and was honored to stage Audrey Hepburn’s final tour for UNICEF. He has lectured at international theater conferences from Bombay to Budapest.

As head of the Theater Department at CSU, Joe served as a professor and mentor to generations of students. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Baldwin Wallace for his 30 years of contributions to the theater program as director, lecturer, and author. In 2014, Garry was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Cleveland Play House. He received the prestigious PlayhouseSquare President's Award in 2012 and continues the 48-year relationship as host of the “Broadway Buzz” lectures that precede most performances in PlayhouseSquare’s Broadway Series.

The Martha Joseph Prize is awarded to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to the vitality and stature of the arts in Northeast Ohio through exceptional commitment, vision, leadership, and/or philanthropy.

Sean Watterson

Sean Watterson is a passionate advocate for artists and the arts. He’s a co-founder and co-owner of The Happy Dog, an independent live music venue and community gathering place, where he has hosted thousands of musicians, academics, artists, poets, comics and storytellers over the past thirteen years. He has served on the boards of the Cleveland Arts Prize, Arts Cleveland, and the Gordon Square Arts District locally, and spearheaded the effort in Ohio on behalf of the National Independent Venue Association to Save Our Stages - an effort that led to the passage of the largest arts funding bill in the history of the United States, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to Ohio’s independent venues, performing arts centers, museums and movie theaters. He champions the importance of individual artists and small businesses, and is an advocate for broadening traditional concepts of arts & culture to include the creative industries and creative workforce.

The Barbara S. Robinson Prize is awarded to an individual or organization for extraordinary commitment to advancement of the arts through leadership in public policy, legislation, arts education and community development.

Clara Rankin

Clara Rankin has spent a lifetime in service to the Cleveland community and beyond. Among numerous honors, CIM bestowed upon Rankin the “Women’s Committee Distinguished Service Award.” Rankin has served as a major contributor to, and volunteer for institutions including CMA where she has been a member of the Women’s Council since 1950 and joined the Museum's Board in 1967. She is now an active CMA Life Trustee Board Member. Clara has long supported the museum including the campaign for the acquisition of Asian Art and specifically, the Galleries of Chinese Art named in her honor.

Clara made significant contributions to the conception, planning and creation of Hopewell, a nonprofit residential therapeutic farm community providing nature-based care for adults reaching for mental well-being, which she founded in 1993.

Rankin was recognized as a member of Crain’s Cleveland’s “80 Over 80” in 2017 and the YWCA in 2013 as their “Lifetime Achievement Award” having broken barriers and shattered stereotypes. She is the recipient of the Goff Philanthropic Leadership Award and Hathaway Brown’s Distinguished Alumnae Heads Award for her work at organizations in Greater Cleveland and beyond. A longtime supporter of The Cleveland Orchestra and an avid concert goer, Rankin has been a Cleveland Orchestra Board Trustee for nearly twenty-five years. Special Citation presented by Cleveland Arts Prize Trustees to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the arts and culture of Northeast Ohio.

Franz Welser-Möst

Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished and recognized conductors. The 2021-22 season marks his twentieth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with their partnership extended to 2027, making him the longest-serving musical leader in the ensemble’s history. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be “America’s most brilliant orchestra,” praising its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion.

With Welser-Möst, The Cleveland Orchestra has been praised for inventive programming, ongoing support for new musical works, and innovative work in presenting semi-staged and staged operas. The Orchestra has also been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, young audience with its Center for Future Audiences programs. In 2020, they launched the ensemble’s own recording label and a brand-new digital streaming platform (Adella) to continue and extend sharing their artistry globally. The 2020-21 season inaugurated an original, global, digital concert series titled In Focus.

2021 Jury Members

Felise Bagley (CAP ‘15), Tizziana Baldenebro, Dr. Adam Banks, Cindy Barber (CAP ‘07), Sheba Marcus Bey, Christi Birchfield (CAP ‘17), Raymond Bobgan (CAP ‘14), Bill Busta (CAP ‘14), Michele Crawford, Eric Coble (CAP ‘07), Michael Dalby, Derin Fletcher, Helen Forbes Fields (CAP ‘20) , Dr. Adrienne Gosselin, Erin Guido, Jason Hanley, Ph.D., Maria Restrepo Hamilton, Peter Lawson Jones, Esq., Sarah Kabot (CAP ‘17), Yolanda Kondonassis (CAP ‘11), Jonathan Kurtz (CAP ‘12), Lisa Kurzner, James Levin (CAP ‘12), Karen Long, Dave Lucas (CAP ‘16), Robert Maschke, FAIA (CAP ‘11), Dianne McIntyre (CAP ‘06), Jeff Niesel, John Orlock, Dee Perry (CAP ‘16), Gabriel Pollack, Megan Reich, Brad Ricca (CAP ‘14), Jan Ridgeway, Judith Salomon (CAP ‘90), Jeffery Strean, Arnold Tunstall, Doug Utter (CAP ‘13), Andrew Valdez, Mary Weems, Ph.D. (CAP ‘15), John Williams (CAP ‘18)

61st Annual Awards Event

Cleveland Museum of Art | Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The 61st Annual Awards Event will feature performances from past Arts Prize winners and the presentation of the 2021 Cleveland Arts Prize Award winners. The ceremony is held in the Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Discipline winners receive an unrestricted prize of $10,000. Special Prize awards are honorary. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available now at

About Cleveland Arts Prize

The Cleveland Arts Prize (CAP), founded by the Women’s City Club of Cleveland in 1960, is the oldest award of its kind in the United States. The Prize is a testament to the standard of excellence and quality of artists in Northeast Ohio. In addition to artists, Cleveland Arts Prize honors individuals and organizations that have expanded the role of the arts in the community. Since its inception, CAP has honored over 350 artists and arts leaders. Today, CAP continues as a trusted, peer-directed arbiter and guardian of the city’s creative history. Through its prize winners, CAP is the nucleus of Northeast Ohio’s arts and culture legacy and the living archive of our community’s triumphs. CAP is proud to honor and support them. For more information or to contribute to the Annual Artist Prize Fund visit