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: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?
Friedman: Northeast Shores is a relatively small organization with a big initiative. Wonderful strides have been made towards achieving core goals which would not have been possible without the generous contributions of key partners and individuals. Through various projects, organizations such as Arts Collinwood, Land Studio, ArtHome, Saving Cities and PROJECT POP-up GALLERIES have been extremely instrumental in making things happen. Some of those projects include launching three interactive gallery exhibits that will engage neighborhood residents into thinking creatively about vacancy (Arts Collinwood), developing a proposed activities space designed by local artists (Land Studio), community development and helping artists to build assets, equity and increase homeownership (ArtHome), a documentary focusing on revitalization and art investments (Saving Cities) and an upcoming winter storefront competition utilizing vacant storefronts (PROJECT POP-up GALLERIES). In addition, we received over 30 applications for the second round of our Artists in Residence grant program. The local artistic community has been an invaluable asset and has been working, incrementally and diligently, in creating a more appealing neighborhood visually. Their productive efforts and dedication to vibrancy and revitalization is extremely admirable and appreciated. Again, if not for all of these people, we couldn’t have achieved the level of success that we have had.
ArtPlace: Are there secrets to good partnerships?
Friedman: Establishing partnerships with care and cultivating intuitive and productive relationships is what we aspire to do. One of the most important aspects of a good partnership is communication. Whether it’s with community leaders, artists, or other business contacts, the lines of communication should always be open, accessible and frequent. I think it’s important that partnerships involve people with similar goals and various skillsets. In our case, the goal is to remove blight within the neighborhood via the arts and help usher in more businesses. Those individuals should also keep an open mind in regards to different ideas and concepts. To utilize and take advantage of each person’s talents, it’s also key to define in detail the role that each person will play when entering into a specific partnership. Having partners and colleagues who are comfortable with the nuts and bolts of operations is very helpful and supportive. If your talent is being the front face of the company such as Northeast Shores and, like myself, you enjoy doing field work, meeting people and engaging in deal making, it’s important that business runs smoothly in your absence.
It’s also important to have trust in the people with whom you are partnering who will be thorough and up-front regarding business matters. There may be stylistic differences in decision making, problem solving and how tasks are executed. But, ultimately, everyone involved should be in synch concerning business goals and have a shared vision for what should be achieved and how projects should come to fruition.