Chloe Hopson knows firsthand the disparity between urban and suburban arts education programs. Having grown up on South Moreland on the edge of Shaker Heights and Cleveland, she flourished in the arts-rich Shaker Heights school system while many of her Cleveland friends lacked similar opportunities.
That's why Hopson founded the Passport Project
14 years ago. She wanted to provide arts programs to youth living in the Buckeye, Larchmere and Shaker Square neighborhoods, and expose them to different cultures across the globe. "We help kids in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to build literacy skills, and we also help them see that there's a whole world out there," she says.
Now this "local girl with a global perspective," as she calls herself, is working with other arts organizations, residents and businesses in the community to launch Shaker Square Arts
. The new organization will offer a range of free programming and classes and will use the historic Shaker Square shopping plaza as its home base.
"We're looking to create a more vibrant neighborhood and one where we get to know each other," says Hopson, who now lives in the Larchmere neighborhood and operates the Passport Project in a storefront at Buckeye and East 128th Street. "We hope to bring people together across perceived lines of difference."
Some of the programs include West African dance and percussion classes, capoeira classes, storytelling workshops and "Drinks and Doodles." This "happy hour with a twist" will invite attendees to draw on a napkin and enter their creation into a contest to win a $25 gift certificate from a local Shaker Square merchant.
Some of the partners involved in Shaker Square Arts include the Passport Project, Lake Erie Artists, City Dance, the Coral Company and area artists and residents. The free classes are supported by a grant from Neighborhood Connections
A Drinks and Doodles happy hour will take place on Thursday, June 21st from 5-7 pm at Dewey's Coffee Shop. A free West African percussion and dance class will be held this Saturday, June 23rd from 12:30-2 pm right before Larchmere Porchfest.
Source: Chloe Hopson
Writer: Lee Chilcote