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Cleveland Arts Organizations Announce New Alliance

a photo of dancers at Parade the Circle in Cleveland
Roberto Galan
Dancers at Parade the Circle in Cleveland in 2019

The creation of a new arts alliance is underway, focused on helping artists and arts organizations survive and prosper in a rapidly changing world.

In recent years, Northeast Ohio’s arts community has seen discord over issues of funding, equity and diversity. Agencies clashed and under-represented artists demanded change. Arts leaders have focused on working together after issues surfaced, and the new arts alliance aims to speak with one voice, positioning the region to secure additional public funding for the sector. 

To that end, the arts advocacy and research non-profit Arts Cleveland is being phased out and will be replaced by a yet-to-be-named entity that will work with arts funder Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) and the political lobbying group known as the Arts and Culture Action Committee. CAC executive director Jill Paulsen said the three will coordinate resources and expertise to speak for the arts with a unified voice.

“I'm looking at this as how can I have a new partner to work with to really move forward this transformational idea around the arts as a change agent,” she said.

Paulsen said the alliance's advocacy will extend to creative businesses, clubs, venues and other for-profit organizations and individuals. Although CAC’s funding mission only includes non-profits, Paulsen said her organization can share best practices when it comes to promoting racial diversity and equity.

Organizers are looking to tap a leader of this new alliance and give it a name, early in 2021, Paulsen said. The Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation are providing funding to support that effort. 

Paulsen pointed to the recent distribution of federal CARES funds for the arts in Cuyahoga County as the model.

“Being able to draw down the dollars from the county for the federal CARES dollars, that only happened because we worked together,” she said. “So now this is kind of saying, well, that was a good test run, let's do it for real.”

ideastream recieves funding from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. 

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David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.