Join a #FredTalksCLE discussion about arts education

Each weekday, dozens of students from all over Cleveland come to Rainey Institute on East 55th Street after school. They're not here for basketball practice or other common after-school activities, however. Instead, they've come to practice their violins, violas, cellos, basses and other instruments with the El Sistema @ Rainey youth orchestra.

Students who join the orchestra make no small commitment. They spend 90 minutes a day, five days per week practicing their instruments. Professional musicians provide instruction, and members of the Cleveland Orchestra serve as volunteers. The result? Program leaders say that programs like El Sistema teach increased focus, self-confidence and improved social behavior, among other skills and attributes.

"We serve under-served kids in Cleveland, because they're the ones who need us most," says Lee Lazar, Executive Director of Rainey Institute. "These are kids without a lot of resources available to them, unlike lots of suburban kids."

Some experts have likened these kinds of "deep immersion" arts programs to Little League teams: they're all about nurturing the next generation of talent. Yet while studies have shown that mastery-focused practice of an art form has the

best chance to impact a child’s development, many city kids lack access to such programs.

Such arts programs are also important whether or not the child sticks with the discipline. Not all El Sistema students will join the Cleveland Orchestra, yet research shows they're more likely to patronize the arts as a result of these early experiences. Ultimately, these programs build future audiences for Cleveland arts groups.

On Tuesday, March 10th, the Cleveland Foundation is continuing its Fred Talks series in 2015 with its first event of the year, "Fred Talks: Arts + Kids = Growing Up Great." This event will delve into the benefits of deep-immersion arts programs and the potential they hold for youth development in Cleveland.

Although the event itself has limited capacity, Fresh Water readers will have the opportunity to engage in the discussion. We're working with the Cleveland Foundation to provide coverage of the topic and event. We're also joining in the public TweetChat conversation that the Cleveland Foundation plans to host.

The TweetChat will take place on Tuesday, March 10th beginning at 7:30 pm, and we'll be using the hashtag #FredTalksCLE. Never joined a Tweetchat? Don't be intimidated. If you have a Twitter account (which of course you do), just post with the hashtag #FredTalksCLE. If you want to find out what others are posting, you can search #FredTalksCLE. You can also set up a "room" with an app like, making it possible to see the entire conversation.

The City Club’s Dan Moulthrop will moderate this Fred Talk, which will feature national expert Eric Booth, performer, teacher and author of The Music Teaching Artists’ Bible, Darnell Weaver, Rainey Institute teaching artist, and Kathleen Cerveny, the foundation’s Director of Institutional Learning and Arts Initiatives.

The Cleveland Foundation is hosting the event to help participants "discover the benefits of arts immersion programs, understand the effect they can have on communities, learn the qualities they must cultivate to succeed, and discuss Cleveland’s unique opportunities to help grow this field in our community."

"Fred Talks build on Cleveland Foundation founder Frederick Harris Goff’s legacy of innovative thinking by inviting community members to learn, engage with one another, and champion new ideas in conversations with local and national thought leaders," the invitation continues. "Each event features a thought-provoking conversation, public Q&A session, and facilitated roundtable discussions that challenge attendees to become Cleveland’s next champions for change."

Lee Chilcote
Lee Chilcote

About the Author: Lee Chilcote

Lee Chilcote is founder and editor of The Land. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. His writing has been published by Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt and many literary journals as well as in The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, The Cleveland Anthology and A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City. He is a founder and former executive director of Literary Cleveland. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.