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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 his vision for Collinwood Rising and the North Shore Collinwood community.

ArtPlace: There’s so much going on right now in North Shore Collinwood. If someone asked you to briefly sum up the Collinwood Rising initiative, what would you tell them?

Friedman: Basically, Collinwood Rising is a five-year strategy to revitalize the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District and the rest of North Shore Collinwood by re-purposing vacant space into art space. We believe that this community has a unique set of assets that will attract artists to the area, including readily available space and the climate of an arts incubator. We’ve already rehabbed a lot of foreclosed and vacant homes and commercial spaces for artists. We are also making final decisions for a $5 million roadway improvement along Waterloo Road that will make the neighborhood more attractive for its residents and hopefully get other people to come visit North Shore Collinwood as well.

ArtPlace: It sounds like this initiative is taking on a huge number of issues in this community. How do you expect that Collinwood Rising will increase the vibrancy of the neighborhood?

Friedman: We are lucky to already have so many individuals who are actively engaged in this neighborhood and contribute to its unique and hugely diverse character. Hopefully, this initiative will bring all the diverse groups in this neighborhood together and give them something to celebrate. Our approach to this project is basically three-fold:

First, we want to make sure that our neighborhood is inviting to artists. Right now, we have the atmosphere we need, but we’re still working on providing artists the space that they want. More than that, we want to create a haven for artists by giving them opportunities that they wouldn’t have anywhere else. We’re working on rehabbing homes to create live/work spaces and we also have a $5,000 home program so that artists can work with us to rehab a home and create their own space. The streetscape will also create an art-oriented commercial district that will really attract visitors to the neighborhood.

Next, we’re working on marketing North Shore Collinwood to new artists. We’ve already begun advertising available space that has been rehabbed as well as the $5,000 homes specifically to artists. A national marketing campaign will target the specific individuals from around the country that would thrive in this neighborhood and should encourage more artists to consider relocating here.

Finally, we plan to engage the current residents by beginning an educational campaign to inform them about the transformative power of art and its place as an asset in their community. We hope that this initiative will make a visible change in this community by combatting vacancy and giving all residents a place that they can be proud of.

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