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.
ArtPlace: Now that you are coming to the end of your ArtPlace grant periods take a moment to think over the past year. What advice would you give to the new grantees? How would you encourage new grantees to leverage their ArtPlace grants for maximum effect?
Friedman: Bringing an array of great ideas to life due to ArtPlace funding has been a wonderful experience for us. The ArtPlace grant has been a wonderful opportunity for us to fund a whole lot of items that we never thought would ever be funded. Our projects counted on several partnerships to go well. Many of those partnerships existed prior to the ArtPlace award but were significantly impacted by the award. These partnerships were critical to our successes and we are VERY fortunate that professional bonds grew stronger as a result of the ArtPlace award. If these partnerships had not worked out, the last year could have gone very differently and very badly.
ArtPlace’s investment has helped bring together many different grassroots arts efforts to a common neighborhood revitalization table. Organizations such as Arts Collinwood (street art mural projects); Cleveland Rocks: Past,Present and Future (music culture); Project Pop-up Galleries (utilizing vacant and underused space) and Saving Cities (community development through media) have been instrumental in making the neighborhood a unique place to visit. While we have always enjoyed a good partnership with these neighborhood leaders, ArtPlace has enabled us to work even more collaboratively in advancing the neighborhood we all love….and to take these efforts to extraordinary heights.
We really enjoy the analogy that ArtPlace prepares our efforts for potential “escape velocity”. As we near the end of the ArtPlace grant period, we are currently reviewing how high we have risen in this time and our absolute amazement in how transformative this award has been not only for the neighborhood but also for the capacity of the organization. Our current reality is significantly different and better than it would have been without ArtPlace. As such, we are envisioning organizational priorities and future projects that are far more considerable.
Other words of advice would be to continuously acknowledge successful projects and commend participants on jobs that are well done. Positive reinforcement is definitely a plus and will encourage grantees to complete projects in a timely manner, which works in your favor. Encouraging feedback and following up with grantees can provide valuable information and can help you recognize successes and where there’s room for improvements in the future. Last but not least, schedule PLENTY of time to work on the reporting process. Maintaining records from the start of the grant period will result in less headaches when it's time to complete the reports. Best of luck and congratulations to new and future ArtPlace grantees! Be prepared for blast-off!