Creative Workforce Fellowship Update

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture held its regular board meeting on September 15, at 4 p.m. at SPACES. We are happy to offer the following updates to clarify the status of CAC’s grant to Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) to run the Creative Workforce Fellowship program.

For more background information, please see CAC’s Statement on the Status of the Creative Workforce Fellowship Grant to CPAC (June 10, 2014).

CAC’s board meetings are always open to the public, and members of the community are welcome to attend and make public comments. View a list of upcoming board meetings.

Given its declining revenues, is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture planning to cancel the Creative Workforce Fellowship Program?
No. CAC is committed to funding individual artists, and it is working with CPAC on the next iteration of this program. 

Why is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture making changes to this program?
CAC’s mission is to strengthen the community by investing in arts and culture. As we do with all our grant programs, CAC continually reviews its work to ensure that investments are grounded in our mission, in line with our goals, and funded according to our allocation policy.

Why is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture shifting the emphasis of the program to be “community-facing”?
As a public funder, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s funding comes from public tax dollars. As the stewards of those public funds, CAC has a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure that those dollars are used to benefit residents. The emphasis on connecting fellowship artists with residents was an explicit goal that CAC expressed to CPAC before the grant to fund the 2013-2014 round of fellowships was approved in April 2012. We intend to work together with CPAC to continue to evolve the program to align with this goal. 

Does this mean Cuyahoga Arts & Culture will only support artists doing project-based work?
No.CAC’s intent is to support a fellowship-style program. 

What is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture changing?
CAC strongly believes that artists are a vital part of our community’s cultural ecosystem. We are committed to supporting artists and ensuring that their important contributions connect with the residents of Cuyahoga County. CAC is also experiencing a decline in revenues which necessitates reducing funds to all of its grant programs in 2015. Accordingly, CAC plans to do the following:

Step One: Continue to provide funding for a fellowship program: $800,000 over two years ($400,000 in 2015; $400,000 in 2016) for a fellowship program that is retooled to ensure that fellows engage the residents of Cuyahoga County in their work, in line with CAC’s commitment to serving residents. This commitment to residents is an essential element that – as a public grantmaker – drives all our investments. 

We hope to continue working with CPAC, and that they will design and run the program within these parameters. We recommend inviting CPAC to make a proposal to CAC for the Board’s consideration at the February 2015 board meeting. This timeline would allow artists to apply for fellowships to support their work in the community in 2015.

Step Two: On a parallel path, we recommend entering into an open community planning process in 2015 to explore how CAC can support creative professionals and their role in strengthening our community into the second 10 years of our work. This effort would be done in partnership with CPAC and will include a broad base of Cuyahoga County residents. We are excited by CPAC’s recent neighborhood-based work (When Artists Break Ground) and that of other models nationwide that support artists in their work to connect with residents. We anticipate that these strong models will inform CAC’s future investments. 

What will happen next?
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture has invited CPAC to submit a proposal to CAC for the next iteration of the fellowship.Assuming that CPAC submits a proposal, CAC’s board will take up that proposal at its February 2015 board meeting. This planned timeline would allow artists to apply for fellowships to support their work in the community in 2015. 

When will Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s board discuss and/or vote on this program?
CAC’s board will hear an interim report on this process at the board meeting on December 15, and we plan to ask the board to approve a proposal to fund the fellowship program at the board meeting on February 9, 2015. 

How much has Cuyahoga Arts & Culture invested in the Creative Workforce Fellowship program to-date?
CAC’s total investment in the program, to date, is $3,283,850, resulting in 122 individuals receiving fellowships or runner-up prizes. 

How can I find out more information about the Fellowship or other CAC programs?
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