Making art, making money, making change

Cleveland has come a long way in its attitude toward arts entrepreneurs. And don’t fool yourself — most artists are entrepreneurs.

We, as well as other midsize Midwest cities, have historically given our young artists the cold shoulder, forcing them to leave town to pursue their dreams. Serious Cleveland art collectors proudly talk about buying trips to New York City, but neglect the collectible pieces in their back yard. Many area musicians are convinced they will never gain notice here and migrate to Nashville or the coasts for access to record company executives. Actors often race to Chicago, Los Angeles or New York immediately upon graduation, as my own sister did, for opportunities unavailable in their hometown.

But the environment for artistic development is improving here. There’s a stronger lifeline for young artist-businesspeople. The Council of Smaller Enterprises is offering health care and other critical services to arts entrepreneurs by way of its new COSE Arts Network. The nonprofit Red Dot Project is gearing up to connect the business community with the local art it needs for corporate collections. The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland has made good on its commitment to refocus promotional resources on Cleveland arts and culture. Live/work arts lofts such as the Tower Press Building and Hyacinth Lofts are going strong, made possible (and legal) by City Council legislation. Cleveland is starting to be a great place to be a young artist.

This month, check out three vehicles designed to benefit Cleveland’s arts entrepreneurs and create an environment conducive to young artists, musicians and other culture workers.

The Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute This award-winning and innovative professional development program, created by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, empowers a diverse range of visual, performing, literary, media and design professionals by offering basic business skills, real-life lessons and networking opportunities. It takes place at the newly renovated Josephat Arts Hall, 1433 E. 33rd St., June 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28. To register, call (216) 575-0331 or visit

CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest Providing the chance to hear dozens of up-and-coming musicians, the CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest returns to Cleveland for a second year June 15 through 18. The festival village, where unsigned local bands will be included on the slate of free weekend performances, has been moved to Voinovich Park this year. For bigger-name acts, check out performances slated for Peabody’s, Beachland Ballroom, House of Blues, Wilberts, Agora Theatre, Grog Shop and Plain Dealer Pavilion. For more information, visit


Foluké Cultural Arts Center The mission of Foluké Cultural Arts Center is “to offer instruction and exposure to the performing arts for all ages regardless of race, religious affiliation or economic background ... choosing art as a weapon against poverty, racism and discrimination.” Pitch in to support the organization’s second annual Scholarship Benefit June 25. The event will include dinner, dancing and the chance to bid on silent auction items donated by Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Carousel Dinner Theatre. Visit for ticket information.  n

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