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.