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Collinwood Rising is a collaborative effort to transform North Shore Collinwood, a neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland, by growing a grassroots art movement. The initiative aims to combat urban vacancy and invigorate the community of North Shore Collinwood by engaging artists in the community and increasing the vibrancy of the neighborhood’s Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District. Collinwood Rising will be converting vacant spaces into an artist-inspired playground, a performing arts incubator and artist live/work space and commercial storefronts.

Northeast Shores Development Corporation is leading this multi-organization initiative. ArtPlace spoke with Brian Friedman, the executive director of Northeast Shores, to discuss how his work will live on in the future.

Will this work live beyond the grant period?

We definitely see this work continuing on after the initial grant period as a ten-year effort to showcase how vacant space is not in and of itself a liability for an urban neighborhood. Rather, these spaces are an opportunity to work with neighborhood stakeholders in reimagining the community we would like it to be. Already, we are seeing this work changing the way people perceive our neighborhood, and we anticipate that it will remain one of our top priorities after our ArtPlace grant period ends.

How will the work you’ve begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?

Our ArtPlace work has been based on a community plan that lays out strategies for how to transform vacant parcels, houses and storefronts into new arts-based community assets. ArtPlace funding is providing us with the opportunity to demonstrate how we can implement this plan. By having several completed projects, we will have a portfolio of work that we can share with foundations, civic leaders and individual donors. This significantly strengthens our ability to sustain funding for the initiative over the coming decade.  ArtPlace funding also is giving us validation and a specific reason to circle back with elected officials and to share with them our revitalization model. As city, county and state development dollars become available, we will have government officials who are better informed not just of our ArtPlace portfolio but of our larger success in neighborhood transformation.

How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?

ArtPlace funding came at a pivotal time in the neighborhood’s revitalization. The funding has helped catalyze a lot of activity all at once, creating a momentum that will likely result in more private investment. That means that our organization will be able to target its dollars toward particular properties (that would be most difficult for the private market to take on) and particular programming that will have the greatest benefit for our neighborhood rather than having to sustain all ArtPlace activities.

ArtPlace funding has allowed Northeast Shores to take a more holistic approach to serving artists and helping to rebuild our community. Through listening to the desires of artists, community residents and partners who have a stake in the neighborhood, we were able to broaden our approach to making neighborhood improvements. These improvements have included home and storefront rehabilitation, community gardens, street art projects, and community events. More residents have taken a more active lead in helping design a thriving and inviting community. Such local engagement and leadership are critical to supporting long-term community development.

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