Shortcut Navigation:

Arts and Culture Public Officials Breakfast 2015


News and Events


Do you remember that time we all went down to City Hall?

“Do you remember that time we all went down to City Hall?”

When we talk with people about public policy and the arts at CPAC, it’s not unusual for that question to come up. ‘I do remember’, I say. ‘It was one of the first arts activities I was involved in when I came to Cleveland.’ Following on the heels of the City of Cleveland’s adoption of a live/work ordinance, Cleveland City Council adopted resolution No. 491-02 calling for an “Artists’ Summit and Exhibit for the purpose of promoting and supporting local Cleveland artists, underscoring their importance to this community and fostering cultural and artistic exchange and opportunities to all artists and citizens in the city.” We convened on Wednesday, May 15, 2002.

It was significant because it was the first time that artists, arts and culture leadership and sector supporters assembled en masse at City Hall to talk about how to advance arts and culture in Cleveland. It was an exciting day for all those who experienced it. A report was issued from the proceedings, a second summit was held in October of that year, and that was it. Nearly sixteen years later, people still look back on that moment fondly, but then they say, what happened from all of that?

Over the years the City of Cleveland has adopted a number of measures favorable toward arts and culture, like a percent for art ordinance and a scaled admissions tax that provided relief for small live music clubs. A number of cities in Cuyahoga County – including the City of Cleveland - are direct providers of arts and cultural programming. Cuyahoga County’s current economic development plan contains specific references to arts and culture as an economic driver. State legislators from our region have advanced legislation on film and recording industry tax credits as well as music therapy licensure. We’ve seen significant support from public leaders throughout the County for public funding for arts and culture. Attendance by elected and appointed officials at our annual Public Officials Breakfast grows every year – particularly from council members and mayors from outside of Cleveland. Despite these advancements, many lament the fact that the City of Cleveland lacks a cabinet level position focused on the arts or a department of cultural affairs. And, neither the City of Cleveland nor Cuyahoga County has a committee devoted to arts and culture matters. From their vantage point, why should they?

I’ve watched the arts and cultural community in Cuyahoga County grow and evolve during my time here. We’ve witnessed arts and culture become a much more powerful player in our neighborhoods, our healthcare systems and our justice system among many other things. Those advancements occurred because of our collective efforts to ensure the arts and cultural asset base was strong. That work can only continue if it stays that way, and the policy environment directly influences that. As advocates, our job is to influence the policy makers. If we want our public leaders to advance policy that supports a strong arts and culture ecosystem that is deeply woven with the fabric of our society, we have to meet them where they are. To do that, we have to help them see the opportunity and the path to realize it. We’ve got homework to do, so let’s get to it with the conversation CPAC is hosting on local government policy on February 22, 2018. See you there.     

Categories: public policy


comments powered by Disqus