This summer, Cuyahoga County residents and visitors to Public Square in downtown Cleveland will be able to enjoy a variety of free arts and culture events. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture will support nine new projects in Public Square with funding from National Endowment for the Arts and Group Plan Commission and in partnership with LAND studio. Arts & Culture in the Square will take place from May to August 2017 and programs and events will be free and open to the public.


“Arts & Culture in the Square is bringing additional public dollars to our community to help enliven one of Cleveland’s newly redesigned public spaces,” said CAC’s CEO + Executive Director Karen Gahl-Mills. “We’re proud to support artists and small to mid-size organizations that may not usually have the opportunity to share their work with Cuyahoga County residents in this vibrant public setting.”

“As the heart of downtown Cleveland, Public Square is the perfect setting to connect our community to new arts and culture experiences,” said Sanaa Julien, CEO of Programming & Operations at Public Square. “Through Group Plan Commission, we’re proud to invest in Arts & Culture in the Square to bring residents and visitors to our recently renovated and inviting public park.”

Through Arts & Culture in the Square, CAC will invest $100,000 to help bring new ideas to life and connect residents to programs in Public Square. Selected projects and events include:

Brendan Trewella: Common Threads is a large-scale art installation on the Gund Foundation Green from Saturday, August 19 to Monday, August 21. The artwork will utilize a series of circular shapes with wooden pegs to outline a shape and invite participants to use colored string to create patterned designs.  As one string ends, another begins. The finished design will be a brilliant geometric ring of color and pattern.

Cleveland Opera Theater: Cleveland Opera Theater will present “Opera for All,” a free summer opera concert and tailgate experience on Friday, August 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. Attendees are invited to pack a picnic or purchase one on-site and enjoy the sounds of "opera's greatest hits."

Daniel Gray-Kontar: Daniel Gray-Kontar and Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator will present “Poetry for the People,” three mock poetry slams on Thursday, June 22 from 12 to 2 p.m., Friday, July 14 from 12 to 2 p.m., and Friday, August 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. Student poets present at the July 14 event will be traveling to San Francisco, California the following week to represent Cleveland in the Brave New Poets Slam competition. Adult poets present at the August 18 event will be attending the National Poetry Slam competition in Denver, Colorado on August 4.

Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center: Julia De Burgos will present “Fiesta Latina in the Square!” on Saturday, July 15 from 1 to 8 p.m. This lively and colorful one-day event will feature the art, creativity and culture of Latino countries. The festival will feature the Doors to My Barrio art exhibit, a project where local visual artists used recycled and reclaimed doors as their canvas. Discover Latino bands, DJ’s and folkloric dance groups, plus salsa lessons and kid-friendly crafts. 

Karamu House: Karamu House will present “An Evening of Jazz and Blues” on Sunday, August 6 from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring four talented vocal musicians, and accompanied by a youth ensemble and live band. The audience will enjoy this multi-generational medley of forthright, good-humored and fun classic blues and jazz hits, celebrating the role of jazz and blues in Cleveland’s history. The show combines rich, vocal performances with playful stage antics.

Lake Erie Ink: Lake Erie Link will present “Story Building in the Square” on Friday, June 30 from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8 from 3 to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 29 from 3 to 5 p.m., and Saturday, August 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. Attendees will engage in the act of “building” stories using giant word blocks. The large word blocks will inspire or inform a creative response that will build the story. The stories will then be written on chalkboards, allowing people passing through the Square to join them. 

Literary Cleveland: Literary Cleveland will present “Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives” on Tuesday, June 20 from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12 from 12 to 1 p.m., and Thursday, July 27 from 7 to 8 p.m. Experience a staged reading of the emotional journeys of crossing borders—both literally and metaphorically—and what it means to be an immigrant and an American. Director Marc Moritz has assembled a cast of actors to perform the stories, which are sure to be provocative, moving, heart-wrenching and funny.  

Pandora Robertson: Based on the 1966 Hough uprising, six days of Cleveland history are brought to life by seven actors in a compressed time and space – which happens to be a table and three chairs. “Incendiaries in the Square” will take place on Saturday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m. A post-show discussion will be followed by an outdoor theater workshop where participants are introduced to theater creation techniques and have the opportunity to write their own responses to the historic record of the 1966 Uprising.

Roots of American Music: Roots of American Music will present “Rust Belt Roots,” a series of music performances featuring gospel, blues, jazz and early rock including Eric Seddon Quartet on Friday, July 21 from 6 to 8 p.m., Zydeco Kings on Friday, July 28 from 6 to 8 p.m., and Evelyn Wright Quartet on Friday, August 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. Paired with “Hopportunity Fridays” craft beer nights, the events will celebrate our region’s Americana sound and help attendees to unwind, relax and bring on the weekend.


List of Events by Date:  June - August, 2017


Tuesday, June 20, 7-8 p.m. – Literary Cleveland (Crossing Borders: Immigrant Natives)

Thursday, June 22, 12-2 p.m. – Daniel Gray-Kontar (Poetry for the People)

Friday, June 30, 6-8 p.m. – Lake Erie Ink (Story Building in the Square)


Saturday, July 8, 3-5 p.m. – Lake Erie Ink (Story Building in the Square)

Wednesday, July 12, 12-1 p.m. – Literary Cleveland (Crossing Borders: Immigrant Natives)

Friday, July 14, 12-2 p.m. – Daniel Gray-Kontar (Poetry for the People)

Saturday, July 15, 1-8 p.m. – Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center (Fiesta Latina in the Square!)

Friday, July 21, 6-8 p.m. – Roots of American Music (Eric Seddon Quartet)

Saturday, July 22, 2:30 p.m. – Pandora Robertson (Incendiaries in the Square)

Thursday, July 27, 7-8 p.m. – Literary Cleveland (Crossing Borders: Immigrant Natives)

Friday, July 28, 6-8 p.m. – Roots of American Music (Zydeco Kings)

Saturday, July 29, 3-5 p.m. – Lake Erie Ink (Story Building in the Square)


Friday, August 4, 6-8 p.m. – Roots of American Music (Evelyn Wright Quartet)

Sunday, August 6, 5-8 p.m. – Karamu House (An Evening of Jazz and Blues)

Saturday, August 12, 3-5 p.m. – Lake Erie Ink (Story Building in the Square)

Friday, August 18, 7-9 p.m. – Daniel Gray-Kontar (Poetry for the People)

Saturday, August 19 to Monday, August 21 – Brendan Trewella (Common Threads)

Friday, August 25, 6-8 p.m. – Cleveland Opera (Opera for All)

A committee of local residents reviewed and recommended project ideas based on their feasibility and potential to enliven Public Square. The committee included: Cavana Faithwalker (Left Thumbprint Solutions), Jason Estremera (Hispanic Business Center, Trunk Collective), James Jones (East End Neighborhood House), Sanaa Julien (Group Plan Commission), Kamla Lewis (City of Shaker Heights), Garry Regan (Grove Programming at Mayfield Village), and Nora Romanoff (LAND studio).

Arts & Culture in the Square events will take place from May to August 2017.  All events will be free, open to the public, and listed on CAC’s events calendar, Cuyahoga County residents and visitors are encouraged to attend.

Learn more about the Call for Participation below:


Artists/makers living in Cuyahoga County can submit project ideas. Artists can request up to $5,000.

An artist/maker is any individual practicing arts and culture. Our definition for arts and culture is based on the Ohio Revised Code. According to the Code, arts and culture includes, but is not limited to, performance, literature, visual arts, architecture, science, history and natural history.

Learn more about the opportunity for artists here.


Small to mid-sized organizations* receiving a General Operating Support or Project Support grant from CAC in 2017 can submit ideas (see the list). Organizations can request up to $20,000 for each project.

*For the purpose of this program, CAC defines small to mid-sized organizations as those with operating budgets up to $3 million.

Learn more about the opportunity for organizations here.