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BWW Blog: Local Arts Organizations Pivot to New Models - Frosty's World #2

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Remarkable resilience is demonstrated in a regional data survey.

BWW Blog: Local Arts Organizations Pivot to New Models - Frosty's World #2

My fellow Arts Management majors and other students at Baldwin Wallace
University scored a day off of classes to attend the sixth annual Arts Innovation
Summit sponsored by our University and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC).
Geography lesson -- insert here. Cuyahoga is the name of the river that runs through
Cleveland, and the name of our County. Does anybody remember the Bandstand
song "I Got a Theory" with lyrics about the flaming Cuyahoga? That's our River. By
the way, the water pollution was cleaned up forty years ago. Our River and Lake Erie
are very pretty now.

The Cuyahoga Arts Council oversees $12M in local arts funding each year. This
year's Innovation Summit panel was focused on the pandemic's effect on local arts
and theater organizations. The statistics are sobering.

Baldwin Wallace's Brian Bowser and CAC's Judith Paulsen chaired the virtual
Summit, and pointed to the data gathered from 65 local non-profits supported by
CAC grants. More than 2500 arts employees have lost their jobs with the
cancellation of more than 6000 local events. The financial losses exceed $40M.

BWW Blog: Local Arts Organizations Pivot to New Models - Frosty's World #2That's a lot of very bad news, but it wasn't the focus of the Summit. Panelists were
brought in to describe how their arts organizations pivoted their work in response to the pandemic.

The data here is even more amazing. Within three months of the pandemic
shutdown, local arts organizations pivoted into offering 2,187 new events and
services. Most of these groups reworked their programming completely from
scratch.

Phyllis Harris, from the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, described the transition of their annual Pride in the CLE event, which usually draws 30,000 participants, to a socially distanced Pride Ride parade through Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District.

Summit panelist Patrick Shepherd from the Cleveland International Film Festival
(CIFF) told of their successful work to move 325 films out of local theaters onto a
streaming platform in the course of just three weeks! Over 42,000 patrons streamed
this content. Now in its 45th year, the CIFF plans to stream one more year online,
and then reopen with a bang in 2022, targeting collaboration with Cleveland's
Playhouse Square, which has 11 performance venues.

Finally, even fundraising for non-profit arts organizations is recovering. We heard
from panelist Letitia Lopez of the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center that their
capital campaign exceeded its goal during the pandemic. The Center will use some
of the funds to upgrade digital platforms and provide free Wi-Fi for artists to use at their renovated flexible spaces, which are used for arts events, gallery shows and
workshops.

BWW Blog: Local Arts Organizations Pivot to New Models - Frosty's World #2These are great examples of resilience -- bouncing back. Would it surprise you to
know that a lot of this activity is supported by -- wait for it -- politics? Cuyahoga
Arts and Culture is backed by a 1.5-cent County tax on cigarettes that taxpayers
voted to approve in 2015 and recently extended through 2027. That's almost
$200M earmarked for local theaters, museums and arts groups. In turn, these
organizations create jobs, fill hotel rooms, restaurants, and support the local
economy. Sometimes, politics gets great things done - like public funding for the
arts economic engine. I proudly display my Ohio Citizens of the Arts, "I Love the Arts
and I Vote" swag.

Taxpayers and voting will be in the news for a few more days. On campus, you can
feel the anxiety surrounding the presidential election. If you live your life with
Broadway lyrics in your brain, you might hear the line from Greenday's American
Idiot, "Do you know what's worth fighting for?"

Our Baldwin Wallace University campus is diverse culturally, racially and
politically. Even my classmates with no political interests are affected. Tension
about the future, (e.g. getting an internship, employment after graduation) is already
high in this economic recession and then you add on the pressure of families and friend groups that are on edge about who will be our next president. It's nice to
have a group of friends that you can joke with aimlessly.

It's also great fun to have so many great online experiences available now. The
experiences are not exactly grand, but they are convenient, inexpensive and inclusive.
Cleveland Public Theater (CPT) just put on a virtual Darkroom Event that featured
original writing and performances from local artists. The parody melodrama, Ugly
Doctor Hospital, was hilarious. I was given the chance to write for CPT's John
Busser and his Haunted Cat Circus, a virtual "chain letter" play. Authors are
provided with a dramatic stem, and asked to contribute 300 words to the script. In
the end, the work is stitched together. If the play ends up on Broadway, I want my
cut of the profits.

Broadway fans stay in touch on virtual platforms that reach coast to coast. My
favorites are San Francisco's Jen and Sara from Instagram's
@broadwaybroadsquad. They hosted a live Instagram chat last week with New
York Broadway fanatic Laura Heywood (@broadwaygirlNYC). I scored a Lights of
Broadway Show Card as a participant! A portion of the proceeds from these
collectible cards benefit a number of Broadway related charities.

BWW Blog: Local Arts Organizations Pivot to New Models - Frosty's World #2At Baldwin Wallace's Kleist Theatre (photo captured from a social distance) we are
striking the set of Keith Paul Medelis' Stupid F##king Bird, our most recent production. I just tore the lights off the tree prop that had hundreds of leaves individually attached by our trusty glue gun. I have learned to keep my head away from an impact drill when removing screws. The Stupid F##king Bird digital video is done, and I can't wait to see it streamed next week. The play is a modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. We read The Seagull in Script Analysis course last year. Our professor kept reminding us that The Seagull was a comedy. I still am not convinced. Maybe Stupid F##king Bird will help me figure it out. I certainly agree with the title.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Laura Frost