Get Acquainted

Why Cleveland?

As you’ll often hear, Cleveland has a great community of artists. Northeast Ohio is building an infrastructure around creative professionals that rivals some of the best cities in the nation. There are many resources designed specifically for local artists. We’ve designed this entire Creative Compass website around artists needs and the support available to them.

To find out more about what Arts Cleveland has been directly involved in, visit our website.

There are some additional characteristics of Cleveland that seem to make it tailor-made for artists:

  • Great Spaces: so often we hear that artists could “never afford a space this amazing” in another city. With a host of live-work lofts and community development organizations to support urban growth and redevelopment, Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs and counties is a prime place to set up shop.
  • Centrally located: It’s no secret that artists travel. Cleveland is in a great position to easily reach New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami, Toronto and St. Louis. Live in Cleveland – Tour the World!
  • Penetrable: artist Don Harvey said it best in the Fellowship video – “Cleveland is a big enough city that if you do something here, it gets noticed outside the city, but it’s small enough that you can find some room to do something. All the territory is not already staked out.”
  • Welcoming: We have a great community of artists and creative professionals. We accept new comers and returning Clevelanders with open arms.

Where to Start

Start growing your network where you are most comfortable. This will be different for everyone, as will be  the goals you are trying to accomplish. You may want to get your feet wet and simply read what others are saying or attend an event. Or you may be the type to jump right in and find collaborators and build out new initiatives. Either way, here are some resources to get you started:

  • Read the neighborhood guide to get more information on specific areas in greater Cleveland and what assets they have for artists
  • View the community event calendar to see networking events that are coming up
  • Search for organizations that offer services directly for artists in your discipline and can help you make connections
  • Tune in to conversations artists are having, view their work (Cleveland has two artist registries: and
  • Feel free to stop in if you’d like tailored advice on who to talk to.

How to Make Your Approach

Even through our harsh winters, Cleveland is a welcoming place, and most people will be responsive to pointing you in the right direction. If you are interested in getting involved with a group, the simplest approach may be to ask about the process directly. Learn the location and time of the next meeting and ask if the organization is accepting new members. Find out other ways (in addition to memberships) that you may also become involved.

If you are considering a deeper involvement or investment (of time, money, ideas, etc.) there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Know who you’re talking to. The number one rule in any communications strategy is to know your audience. The same goes for approaching individuals or organizations. Before you meet with someone, read up on the organization or company website or individual. Plan out how you intend to frame the discussion based on both of your interests.  It easier to talk to someone when you have a common understanding of each other. Attending a meeting with this understanding demonstrates that you respect your colleague’s current goals and presence; genuine interest in their work will always be welcome. Organizations have a current and strategic set of programs and services as well. Understand how you may fit in as you begin those conversations.
  • Communicate what you are looking for without being too aggressive. Once you understand who you are talking to and what approach might be best for them, be ready to answer their most logical questions: How canI help you? And what benefit might I receive in doing so? A straight pitch is not always the way to go (unless you’re on SharkTank). In fact, a first meeting often may be more about learning what your contact’s roles and responsibilities within the organization.  Setting up informational interviews can be much less intimidating for both parties. This way, if the person can’t help you immediately, you can avoid an awkward or uncomfortable situation. You will have established a new contact for the future and can ask if she may know anyone else in the organization that may be a better fit for your current need.
  • Follow up. Send a thank you note or an email recapping what actions you’ll be taking next. A quick “thank you” goes a long way.