New Glenville creative arts learning center aims to inspire youth

FRONT International may have concluded its colorful run, but the former FRONT Porch space in Glenville will continue its arts and culture legacy with the opening of the new Center for Arts-Inspired Learning—a creative arts center for children and teens.

Set to open this Sunday, October 21, the 2,200-square-foot space will serve as a second location to CAL’s existing University Circle space, offering similar arts education programs designed to close learning gaps, tech creative thinking, and help students succeed in school, their first jobs, and in life.

“We have learned through the years how big an impact the arts have on education,” says Caitlin Reilly, CAL’s community outreach manager. “And it’s nice for kids to have fun and just be kids.”

Popular programs include ArtWorks (a paid apprenticeship program for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors), and STEAM Saturdays (during which students in grades 5-8 receive instruction in technology, engineering, and media arts through classes like web design, creating digital comic books, and 3D modeling).

The opening of the Glenville location will mark the kickoff to CAL’s new Makers and Mentors Arts Clubs, free after-school clubs geared at grades 3-12 that pair student makers with artist mentors to encourage and inspire creativity. The clubs will take place at both the University Circle and Glenville locations, with mentors including Mama Fasi for drumming, Ryan Upp and Shelly Svonavec for visual arts, Rafique Watson for recording arts, Javae Brown for game art, Ray McNiece for performing arts and poetry, and the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society for guitar and songwriting.

The second location will also help CAL further reach out to students in the Glenville and Hough neighborhoods, says CAL marketing manager Katie McCullough. “We want to be a strong community partner, a safe place where kids can learn and grow; while continuing to work with our neighbors to identify ways that we can best serve the needs of their families,” she explains.

STEAM SaturdaysCAL leaders stress the positive impact the arts have on an individual’s growth and academic success—helping cultivate critical thinkers, confident collaborators, and dedicated citizens—but they also hear directly from the students who participate in CAL programs.

“When we interview students for ArtWorks, we ask them why art is important to them and what impact it has on their community,” says McCullough. “Their answers often have a strong theme—that the arts bring people hope and it makes them happy, give people a way to express themselves, and open doors to career opportunities they might not have otherwise.”

McCullough says that feedback is what has kept CAL building and growing for the past decade. “Hearing directly from them is all the motivation we need to work even harder to make sure they have access to art in their classrooms and after school, so that they can reap the benefits we know they provide: self-confidence, creative thinking, empathy, and academic success,” she says.

Saturday’s grand opening celebration is open to the public and runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m., the day will feature a student art gallery, drumming workshops, hands-on arts activities, and refreshments. Kevin Conwell & the Footprints, Ray McNiece, Jewel Jackson and African Soul International, and Mama Fasi of the Fasi’s Cultural Experience will each perform throughout the day.

CAL will also unveil an interactive mural created by third and fourth grade students from Patrick Henry Elementary School in Glenville. Using touch-activated circuits, attendees will be able to learn about the community through the students’ own words. The Patrick Henry mural is one of four such installments also being created by third and fourth graders at Mary B. Martin Elementary, Case Elementary, and Michael R. White Elementary.

Members of the community will be invited to vote to help determine the new name for the community programming space.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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