When I walk into the space each morning and turn on the lights, I see endless possibilities. Walls filled with color and energy. Spaces alive with people and activity. Artists and communities working together. Opening this spring, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Community Arts Center on the near west side will soon come to life.
Situated in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood on West 25th Street, a late 1800s awning factory is being transformed into an arts and cultural hub, with tenants dedicated to community arts, dance, theater, graphic design, and conservation, as well as other community-driven nonprofit organizations. Construction on the building, in which the Community Arts Center occupies a third of the space, is near completion. We are entering the next exciting phase of the project—determining the look, feel, and function of the space—and we’re not doing it alone.
Passing through the neighborhood, it’s hard not to notice the many improvements progressing. MetroHealth is fully underway in transforming its main campus and creating affordable housing and parks. Neighborhood investment projects are being identified through a resident-driven, multiyear master planning process dedicated to creating a more healthy, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Clark-Fulton residents, business owners, and stakeholders have a constant voice in how they shape their community. Honored to be a participant in this process, I am an active listener and willing partner in identifying opportunities for collaborative, community-based efforts to advance equity through the arts. The master plan and conversations with residents will help us inform the center’s purpose and programs.
Over the next several months, the now-empty gallery, studio spaces, and community arts workspace will transform into an enduring home for the CMA’s Community Arts Department, welcoming all to experience art generated in and with the community. Spaces throughout the center and the inaugural community gallery exhibition will celebrate the vibrant spirit of the CMA’s annual Parade the Circle event, showcasing giant puppets, costumes, and masks created together by artists and the community over the years.
Experiencing the scale of objects, color, texture, movement, and sounds will be initially touch-free due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but post-pandemic, visitors will be invited to try on parade puppets and costumes and examine the many materials and techniques used in their creation.
Studio experiences, planned to open to the public in early 2022, will engage people of all ages and artistic abilities, with art-making activities for community and professional artists to explore together. Perhaps this will be your first encounter working with an artist or art form. Or maybe a class will reveal the hidden artist in you. Sometimes we just need a space for reflection or to find inspiration. Whatever the reason, the center will have something for everyone.
This spring, the center opens its doors to Clark-Fulton and beyond, built for the community, with the community. A space for all to celebrate the arts, the Community Arts Center is an inclusive sanctuary that aims to unlock collaboration, encourage connections, and provide support, hope, and joy. The possibilities are endless.
Cleveland Art, Spring 2021