cuyahoga arts and culture helps connect art and community

Free classical concerts held in churches throughout the city, a science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) high school at Great Lakes Science Center, and a partnership between Inlet Dance Company and the Music Settlement are just a few of the unique projects funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Since 2006, this countywide entity has invested over $80 million in nearly 200 organizations. Recently, CAC released new data showing that for every $1 that it has invested in arts and culture organizations, about $19 makes its way back into the regional economy.

CAC-funded organizations also serve over one million schoolchildren per year and more than 6.4 million visitors to the region. Moreover, about 55 percent of the groups that receive CAC funding require no admission charge at all.

One of the biggest developments in Cleveland's arts and culture scene, however, is the innovative ways in which nonprofit arts organizations are connecting with local communities. Karen Gahl-Mills, the organization's Executive Director, says that one of CAC's biggest areas of growth is in small project support.

"We see arts activity happening in unusual places," she says. "The projects aren't necessarily new, but people know who we are now. We're doing outreach to communities where people were not applying for grants before."

Gahl-Mills also says that Cuyahoga County's robust system of public arts funding, which stems from a countywide cigarette tax passed in 2006, is the envy of many other cities. "A lot of cities look at Cleveland and say, 'They did it, why can't we?'"

In the end, CAC will only be successful if it achieves its mission of maximizing community benefit. "Our goal is to make the community better by investing in arts and culture, so we're reaching into the community in different ways."

Source: Karen Gahl-Mills
Writer: Lee  Chilcote
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