Photo by Milo Lopez
Jeremy Johnson (right), President & CEO of Assembly for the Arts, poses with artist Mary Kay Thomas (left) and Stephanie Kluk
Cleveland’s recently formed Assembly for the Arts has hatched a postcard campaign to appeal to Cleveland city council to dedicate 2% of the city's ARPA funding for arts and culture.
“We will creatively share with Cleveland's 17 Councilmembers the power and the impact of the arts and culture in their respective districts," said President and CEO of Assembly for the Arts, Jeremy A. Johnson. "Through art, we'll represent the importance of investing in cultural workers and artists, nonprofit organizations, and cultural businesses. Collectively we are powerful tools to improve our city and to emerge from the COVID pandemic. We want to give creatives the opportunity to share with elected officials how putting the arts in ARPA is a priority for the city's future.”
Assembly for the Arts, supported by Community Artist Managers like Liz Maugans and Robin Robinson, plan to design and develop 17 unique postcards showcasing the work of 17 individual artists from each of Cleveland’s respective 17 city wards and encourage community members to flood city hall with the message that funding would empower the arts and cultural community.
The artwork selected for each postcard will be previously created, existing work and will amplify the message, “My work as an artist needs your support because….”
“We want to let the Mayor and Council Members know that Clevelanders are behind their support of ARPA funding for the COVID-impacted arts and culture community,” said Johnson. “The creative industry has taken an economic gut punch with the slow-downs and shut-downs due to the pandemic and the recurring COVID variants. This effort will amplify how all 17 wards of Cleveland benefit from arts and culture, especially in the aftermath of COVID—arts education for our youth, visual arts, the performing arts, live music, neighborhood revitalizations and so much more. In addition to traditional advocacy—testimony, emails, phone calls—we're getting creative. After all, we represent the arts!”
The city of Cleveland has $511 million in ARPA dollars to spend.
It is no secret that the arts and culture and entertainment industries have been hit hard by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC)’s 2020 annual report, during the pandemic 65 Cuyahoga County-based arts and cultural nonprofits lost more than $119 million in earned and donated revenue, a decrease of 29%. As a result, 3,157 of their employees and contractors were laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced or contracts canceled, resulting in more than $15.7 million of loss compensation. Countywide, more than 6,500 events were canceled.
“Cleveland has some of the most arts-vibrant neighborhoods in the nation,” said Johnson. “And there are also neighborhoods that are culturally rich but under-invested. We look forward to working with the City Council and administration in all 17 wards with a focus on high-need neighborhoods. I grew up on the East Side, so I'm particularly aware of the acute needs of communities like Hough, Glenville, Central, Fairfax, Mt Pleasant, Harvard-Lee and more."