Artists as Community Investors
For fifteen years, the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) has been working to strengthen and unify Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. An unusual consortium of cultural organizations, funders, business and political leaders, and other allies, CPAC conducts research, pilots new approaches for boosting the cultural sector, and advocates for resources, policies, and practices that will integrate the arts and artists into the fabric of Cleveland-area communities.
Cleveland was one of the cities included in the Investing in Creativity study, and CPAC was an energetic partner throughout LINC’s life. With LINC’s support, CPAC focused on building artists’ business capacities through two initiatives: the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI), and the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) Arts Network. AEI is an artist-focused course that helps artists with all aspects of business operations, including: marketing, branding, raising capital, managing intellectual capital, bookkeeping, and accounting. After successfully piloting AEI, CPAC worked with its local small business association to integrate it into COSE’s offerings, while simultaneously encouraging COSE to include artists as members and expand other services for the artist population. AEI was the first program of its kind in the Midwest, and it has since been adopted in Florida by Broward County’s Cultural Division and in Charlotte, NC by the Arts & Science Council.
LINC support also enabled CPAC to develop the Creative Workforce Fellowship, which it funded with public support through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. This program provides $20,000 unrestricted fellowships to 20 artists each year; each recipient also receives a COSE Arts Network membership and a tuition waiver for the AEI course. CPAC also organized four “From Rust Belt to Artist Belt” conferences, reaching more than 600 artists and other professionals involved in community development in the Midwest. Building on the lessons of these conferences and using its final funding from LINC, CPAC piloted a program of home ownership in one of Cleveland’s re-developing neighborhoods. In collaboration with the Northeast Shores Development Corporation (the community development corporation for North Collinwood), NoteWorthy Federal Credit Union, and other partners, CPAC developed a loan pool to help artists purchase or repair dwellings in the neighborhood. CPAC’s Artists in Neighborhood grant program, also supported by LINC, incentivizes community-based arts projects in the same area of the city—nearly 20 so far.
“LINC funding allowed us to be more inventive in each of our artist-based programs,” said Tom Schorgl, President and CEO of CPAC. “LINC’s support of research, investments in pilot programs and the development of productive partnerships helped improve CPAC’s artist initiatives. Every project led to another opportunity, and LINC’s flexible venture money allowed CPAC to act on each one.”