Local artists plan for a creative community in Cleveland Heights

Shannon Morris has always been an artist. “Ever since I was little I was very creative and resourceful with materials,” she says. Morris first entered a darkroom at age 13, went to NYU for photography and today works in a variety of media and writes her blog, Electric Belle, from her Cleveland Heights home.
But like most creative types, Morris craved inspiration and collaboration from other artists. So in February, she started Artful, a movement to create an affordable space for local artists to come together and create, collaborate and sell their works.
“I’ve been thinking about this for years, to create a creative environment,” she says. “Ideally it will be studio space, a gallery space, retail and flex space. Art is supposed to be an outlet. Artists would feed off each other and share.”
Artful would be open to all artists. Rent will depend on the space Morris finds, but she plans to keep it affordable. She has been looking at spaces around the east side, but would like to locate in Cleveland Heights. “It just feels like Cleveland Heights is what the place is about,” she says. “We need this in Cleveland Heights because we have many artists and there is no affordable studio space. We have lots of empty buildings and a population that is deeply connected to the arts.”
Eventually Morris would like to add an educational element to Artful. “We would ramp up to a place to host events and education,” she explains. “Especially as the arts are dwindling in our schools, this could be a place where kids can go.”
Within two weeks of creating a group Facebook page, 140 people had joined Artful. Today, there are close to 160 members. Morris has been touring different vacant spaces, and has solicited advice from Artful followers for their ideas and advice about creating a business plan.
Last Sunday she hosted a meeting to discuss ideas for a space and ideas on how Artful can become a thriving part of the Cleveland Heights community. “The energy of the meeting was electric,” says Morris. Artists in all mediums attended, as well as local business owners, residents of all ages and business people willing to help out with the cause. Cleveland Heights city planners and Future Heights have also gotten involved.

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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