After months of anticipation amongst the local art community, Cuyahoga County's Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) released the names of 40 local artists receiving 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowships. The Fellowships include $15,000 in public funding to assist these talented and skilled individuals in their professional development, as well as engaging their community. Additional resources include PR and marketing support during the Fellowship year and a three-minute promotional video documenting the artist and his/her work.
"Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is proud to support Cuyahoga County's vibrant artists by funding the Creative Workforce Fellowship," says Karen Gahl-Mills, CEO & Executive Director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. "Through this program, managed by our friends at Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, we're investing public dollars into creative individuals who are committed to making connections with our community through their work."
CPAC's president and CEO, Tom Schorgl agrees, "These Creative Workforce Fellows are providing new opportunities for residents and visitors alike to engage with a wide array of art forms. Their work is contributing to youth education and a heightened awareness of our environment, community and place. The work these artists make is intelligent, playful, striking and skillful. CPAC is fortunate to be able to support this talented group of individuals through a grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture."
This is the first year that 40 artists received the Fellowships. These artists work in a variety of disciplines, including visual arts, theatre, music, literature, design, dance, media arts and craft. In previous years, 20 artists received Fellowships, and the disciplines were divided into two groupings, alternating every other year. The Creative Workforce Fellowships are funded by Cuyahoga County's tax on cigarettes, which was soundly renewed by voters in November's election.
The Creative Workforce Fellowship's regular schedule was temporarily suspended while CAC and CPAC re-evaluated the program in the summer of 2014. After months of public meetings and conversations, the organizations announced that the program would resume in 2016, with some major changes.
The Fellowships were cut from $20,000 per Fellow to $15,000, and applications were opened to all disciplines for a total of 40 Fellows. Additionally, the organizations placed an added emphasis on community engagement (as opposed to artistic excellence). This year's application included questions about how the applicant would engage his/her community.
This year's visual art Fellows include John "Derf" Backderf, Christi Birchfield, Kathy Buszkiewicz, Dana Depew, John Greiner (aka John G.), Lauren Herzak-Bauman, Freddy Hill, Ryan Jaenke, Sarah Kabot, Kevin Kautenburger, Irina Koukhanova, Jimmy Kuehnle, Ali Lukacsy, Darice Polo, Paul Sobota, Darius Steward and Nathan Ward.
These 2016 Fellows include cartoonists, fine artists, arts professionals, educators, an architect and more. This variety should help ensure that the funds (and results) are distributed throughout our community. Though they may not all be household names, the list is exciting to those familiar with their work. Visit clevescene.com for more information on this year's visual arts recipients.
Additional 2016 Creative Workforce Fellows include Julie Andrijeski, Christopher Auerbach-Brown, Simone Barros, Amy Breau, Ray Caspio, Bob Drake, Michael Garriga, Alison Garrigan, Eric Gonzalez, Jakob Hochendoner, Holly Holsinger, Rebecca Leuszler, Dave Lucas, Darlene Montonaro, Jeremy Paul, Megan Pitcher, Imad Rahman, Pandora Robertson, Mary Robles, Renee Schilling, Annika Sheaff, Chris Webb and Catherine Wing. Throughout the next year, these artists will each impact our community thanks to CAC and CPAC's funding.
"This group of Fellowship recipients is an incredibly accomplished and diverse set of artists focused on exploring themes of contemporary relevance," says Valerie Schumacher, director of artist services at CPAC. "From work focused on safety, violence and war to racial, gender and sexual identity, these artists are presenting a new lens and safe space to explore our world. Comic artists, filmmakers, huge inflatables and tiny galleries are all taking their place this year in the funding pool. They have some exciting plans for their Creative Workforce Fellowships. CPAC's board and staff are really looking forward to seeing the developments that will come out of this group in 2016."
As are we. Again, check our website for more information on this year's individual visual arts Creative Workforce Fellows, and stay tuned in 2016 for more information on their various projects throughout Northeast Ohio. In January, CPAC and CAC will host a public reception for this year's Creative Workforce Fellows. For more information, visit CultureForward.org or stay tuned to Scene.