CAC, ioby collaboration raises money for grassroots artistic endeavors

Partner Content

When Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and ioby Cleveland put their heads together, they support some great individuals doing some inspiring projects in Cleveland.

In February, the arts agency's board approved spending $50,000 to partner with ioby (in our backyards) for up to a $5,000 match fund for individual artists and groups working on creative and innovative projects to make Cuyahoga County a more vibrant place for arts and culture. For instance, if an organization raised $5,000, CAC would match the fund with the maximum $5,000.

“It was one of ioby’s more sizeable match funds,” says Cuyahoga Arts & Culture interim CEO and Executive Director Jill Paulsen. “We’re proud to invest in ioby, who is on the ground and able to reach new projects and people that we can’t otherwise reach.”

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, one of the largest local public funders for arts and culture in the nation, has invested more than $182 million in more than 400 organizations since 2007. It teamed with ioby, which came to Cleveland in March 2016 and helps grassroots community improvement organizations get off the ground through crowdfunding campaigns and advice, to reach a broader audience and help more artists and organizations achieve their goals.

Both organizations say this fund was a good way to support community efforts. “We work with ioby to reach new projects that we couldn’t reach otherwise,” says Paulsen. “As a public agency, we fund organizations, but a lot of good things are happening on an individual level, at the block level. Ioby is on the ground, and having them do this work helps us reach more people.”

Dawn Arrington, ioby Cleveland’s action strategist, met Paulsen at a diversity and arts event last year and talked to her about teaming up. “This was the perfect time and project opportunity to see what the response would be,” she says. “The proof is in the pudding; the proof is in the numbers.”

The match fund was launched in April, targeting individuals, artists, informal groups of residents, and nonprofits. Seventeen projects enlisted in the campaign, with fundraising goals ranging from about $1,500 to $15,500.

The arts agency matched funds raised dollar for dollar before the $50,000 was met in mid-August. Eleven of the 17 projects raised their funds—some raised even more than their goals.

Both Paulsen and Arrington say they would like to partner again on a similar crowdfunding match campaign. “Knowing that there are still communities out there and still projects that need to be done, and they haven’t even tapped into this and don’t know they can join, my hope is we do this again,” she says.

Here’s a look at four people who participated in the match fund for their grassroots projects:

Food Strong’s Care-A-Van program

Since 2016, Sara Continenza has made it her mission to help Cleveland residents grow, appreciate, and eat local fresh food. She is the founder and executive director of Food Strong, a nonprofit organization that brings food programs to schools and communities to educate residents on the importance and joy of healthy eating.

Through Food Strong’s Care-A-Van program, Continenza brings nutrition education, health screenings, food demonstrations, crafts, and music to farmers markets and other food-oriented events to help residents—especially school children—make healthy food fun.

“We use this as an opportunity to create a model to keep kids interested in [healthy foods],” says Continenza.

Continenza joined the ioby-CAC match campaign to raise $10,345 and recruit volunteers for the Care-A-Van program. She raised $3,712 before the match fund was met.

The Care-A-Van program runs from April through October and is at the Coit Road Farmers Market the second Saturday of the month. Through Food Strong’s school gardens program, the organization has created gardens at the Cleveland Metropolitan School Disctrict’s Iowa-Maple Elementary school in Glenville.

“We really awoke some interest,” Continenza says of the school garden program. “These kids didn’t even want to touch an apple before. Now they’re excited to eat fresh foods.”

The students learn about gardening as well as entrepreneurship when they help sell their harvests and crafts at the market. Iowa-Maple is one partner, along with Recess Cleveland, Vicki's Home Inc., and EC Grows Community Garden, that will be hosting Care-A-Van’s Back to School Extravaganza at the Coit Road Market on Saturday, Sept. 14. Iowa-Maple students will prepare a fresh, healthy meal with produce from the garden, along with other family-friendly activities.

Then on Thursday, Sept. 19, Food Strong will host its first fundraiser, Cornucopia, to further raise funds and expand its programs.

<span class="content-image-text">Painting in the Park gets creative on paper and on faces.</span>Painting in the Park gets creative on paper and on faces.Painting in the Park

Angela Miller has had a passion for the arts since she was a child. As an adult, she wanted to share that passion, so for the past five years, she has hosted Painting in the Park Family Fun Day at Lincoln Park in Tremont.

Attendees explore their creative sides, participating in painting, arts, crafts, and other arts-related activities while getting to know their fellow Clevelanders.

“It really started out as a small family event,” Miller says, noting that a few hundred people came out in July. “It’s not big, but it’s still growing because we started trying to get the word out. It’s just a fun day of families coming together and exploring their creativity.”

Miller joined the ioby-CAC fundraising campaign and far exceeded her $1,582 goal—raising $10,000 (the maximum match amount) to buy art supplies and materials, rent equipment for the event, and provide snacks and water for participants.

While Miller has had support from organizations like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Cleveland Water Department, she has self-funded Painting In the Park because of her dedication to children and the arts.

“I do it from my heart where I sacrifice and pay for it our of my pocket,” she says. “Ioby has been helpful because I didn’t even realize the cash involved. This is an expensive project, but I love it, and this helps expand it.”

Arrington says Miller is a perfect example of why ioby and CAC teamed up on this fund match. “For people or groups like that, it’s a really great way to take advantage of what is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.”

Miller says Painting in the Park is important to her because it promotes diversity and brings the community together. “It’s more than just painting,” she says. “Everyone is an artist. They are painting their worlds with their own artistry and gifts. And they’re adding beauty to the world.”

<span class="content-image-text">Fp Creative likes to experiment with its events, including mixing live music and cinema.</span>Fp Creative likes to experiment with its events, including mixing live music and cinema.Fp Creative

Devin Hinzo is a classically trained oboist. Growing up in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, he dreamed of studying under the late John Mack, principal oboist for the Cleveland Orchestra from 1965 to 2001. “He taught every major oboist in the United States,” Hinzo says. “As a young musician, that was really attractive. But he passed away my junior year in high school, so I went to New York City instead.”

Years later, Hinzo arrived in Cleveland with a different dream: to bring a group of classical musicians together to perform and produce experimental and out-of-the-box concerts. In 2018, fp Creative was born.

“We show a different side to classical music,” Hinzo says. “Concerts can be on the experimental side—less of a formula of how a concert happens and more of a social event.”

In fact, Hinzo says he wants to be the organization for musicians that SPACES is for visual artists. Fp Creative performs in places like GLO Cleveland or Mahall’s in Lakewood. “What I do is hold events in loft spaces or warehouses,” he says. “There’s a bar, and people can move their chairs around, or they can stand.”

Admission to fp Creative events is based on a sliding scale—tickets cost from zero to $15. “People pay what they can afford,” Hinzo says. “Everybody’s treated the same. We’re trying a lot of different things that are different, from the audience experience to the concert standpoint.”

Fp Creative ran a $15,500 campaign through CAC-ioby and raised $3,700 in just five days before the maximum match was met. Hinzo says they are continuing to raise the funds fp Creative needs to grow its Emerging Artists-in-Residence and Guest Curator/Producer programs and its Visiting Artist Series.

Hinzo already has two guest producers—saxophonist Noa Even, who is commissioning four new works for solo saxophone, interactive electronics and video; and Melanie Emig, who is bringing “Samples,” which combines classical, baroque, spoken word poetry, and other music in a surround sound music experience. He also has two guest curators—Cleveland native and trumpeter Theresa May and horn player Van Parker. Current Emerging Artists-in-Residence are Catharsis Winds, a woodwind quintet made up of students or members who just turned 21. The group puts a new twist on its classic and contemporary repertoire.

Hinzo is planning a November fundraiser, #GalaForThePeople, on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at Snap House Studios in the ArtCraft Building, 2530 Superior Ave., Suite 500, Cleveland. The immersive showcase kicks off fp Creative’s second season and will debut the emerging artists' new works, as well as have interactive photo-booth sets, special performances, interviews, refreshments, and prizes.

“The #GalaForThePeople is the last push for our fundraiser,” says Hinzo. “Any money collected at the door and other revenue from the event will go toward our operational funds.”

<span class="content-image-text">Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood came alive Aug. 4 for the Puerto Rican Parade and Festival.</span>Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood came alive Aug. 4 for the Puerto Rican Parade and Festival.Puerto Rican Parade and Festival

Since the late 1960s, Cleveland’s Puerto Rican population has put on some form of a parade and festival to celebrate their heritage with the community and have a good time. Last summer marked the 51st annual Puerto Rican Parade and Festival, and Manny Velez has worked hard to bring the annual event back to its original glory.

While the festival at one time was a four-day event, it was reduced in recent years and was just one day in 2017 at Voinovich Park. In 2018, the festival was moved to Roberto Clemente Park and consisted of one food truck and a McDonald’s sample food truck.

This year, on Aug. 4, Velez pulled out all the stops—highlighting the cultural richness of the Clark-Fulton neighborhood and celebrating Cleveland’s large Puerto Rican population—with a parade and full-blown festival.

“This year, it was a full festival,” he says. “It was a huge event and a lot of work. We definitely cleared 5,000 people.”

All but one food vendor ran out of food, while Recess Cleveland took up the entire outfield with kids activities, and four local bands played salsa and merengue music, Velez says. The Cavs Scream Team made an appearance, as did the Latin Dance Rebels.

A stilt walker performed, and a workshop taught how to make authentic masks out of foam and silk.

Velez reached his $10,345 goal in the ioby-CAC fundraiser to repeat the same success in 2020 and to further promote cultural awareness, civic pride, and just plain fun at the 52nd annual Puerto Rican Parade on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.

Velez plans to use the money to hire a full planning committee. After realizing all the work involved last year, he says he needs the help and expertise. “It opens your eyes to [the fact that] in order for this to be a success, you have to identify the people who have this expertise and ensure this will be a success,” he says.

But Velez says the planning makes the entire project worth it. “Wow, it was wonderful,” he says of the 2019 event. “I’m shocked at how much it takes to put this thing together. At the same time, I’m in awe when I see the support coming in. It’s encouraging.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: 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.