Organizations Launch Alliance for Arts and Culture in Northeast Ohio

Local entities collaborate to unify and amplify the region’s creative sector.

By: Dec. 07, 2020
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Organizations Launch Alliance for Arts and Culture in Northeast Ohio

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC), Arts Cleveland and the Arts & Culture Action Committee (ACAC) have announced the formation of an arts and culture alliance in Cuyahoga County, beginning in 2021.

The alliance will provide for greater impact and a unified voice for arts and culture, which will better position arts leadership to secure additional public funding. It will provide an elevated platform to offer services to institutions, artists, and creative businesses in the areas of advocacy, racial equity, and related programs and services.

The alliance will combine the efforts and organizational structure of Arts Cleveland, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and Arts and Culture Action Committee, a 501(c)4 political action committee. Arts Cleveland will sunset to pave the way for a brand-new organization in 2021.

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a public agency, will be actively involved in the alliance as a founding partner and supporter but will remain an independent entity, retaining its name, structure, and grantmaking.

Earlier this year, the organizations worked together to secure $4 million in Cuyahoga County CARES funding for distribution to the sector and have begun a coordinated legislative effort to expand public funding for the arts.

"After months and even years of laying the groundwork, we are thrilled that the transformative efforts of so many are coming to real fruition," said Charna E. Sherman, president of CAC's Board of Trustees. "This new alliance will ensure that Cuyahoga County continues to be shining example for arts and culture in the nation."

"We celebrate the achievements of Arts Cleveland and look forward to this new opportunity to strengthen and unify Cleveland's arts sector," said Tony Panzica, chair of the Arts Cleveland Board of Trustees. "Working together we have the opportunity here to see our sector succeed and thrive."

"By working as an alliance, we can have a transformational creative and economic impact for our community," said Fred Bidwell, co-chair of the Arts and Culture Action Committee. "With a unified approach, we can maintain the strong and diverse arts sector that is a hallmark of our region."

A group comprised of existing members from the founding partner Boards are working to conduct a national search for an executive director to lead the new organization. The search will be led by national search firm, Koya Partners, with the aim to hire a director in the first quarter of 2021. In the coming months, the working group will identify program priorities, organizational structure, a new name and brand, and finalize the board composition.

In the fall of 2019, CAC, Arts Cleveland and the ACAC engaged consultants to help the organizations consider if a formal collaboration among partners would better serve the arts community and the region. The work included study of national models and best practices; an overview of the current work of the partner organizations; a look at the evolving trends within the northeast Ohio market and national trends in patterns around funding for the arts.

Arts Cleveland was founded in 1997 as the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), responding to the need for a community-wide, comprehensive arts and culture plan. For more than 20 years, Arts Cleveland advanced the arts and culture community in northeast Ohio through direct service programs, research, and advocacy.

The work and executive director search process is supported with funding from The Cleveland Foundation and The George Gund Foundation.

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