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Organizations Launch Alliance for Arts and Culture in Northeast Ohio

Photo Credit: Bob Perkowski

Local Entities Collaborate to Unify and Amplify the Region’s Creative Sector

CLEVELAND, OHIO (DECEMBER 7, 2020) – Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC), Arts Cleveland and the Arts & Culture Action Committee (ACAC) have announced the formation of an arts and culture alliance in Cuyahoga County, beginning in 2021.

The alliance will provide for greater impact and a unified voice for arts and culture, which will better position arts leadership to secure additional public funding. It will provide an elevated platform to offer services to institutions, artists, and creative businesses in the areas of advocacy, racial equity, and related programs and services.

The alliance will combine the efforts and organizational structure of Arts Cleveland, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and Arts and Culture Action Committee, a 501(c)4 political action committee. Arts Cleveland will sunset to pave the way for a brand-new organization in 2021.

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a public agency, will be actively involved in the alliance as a founding partner and supporter but will remain an independent entity, retaining its name, structure, and grantmaking.

Earlier this year, the organizations worked together to secure $4 million in Cuyahoga County CARES funding for distribution to the sector and have begun a coordinated legislative effort to expand public funding for the arts.

"After months and even years of laying the groundwork, we are thrilled that the transformative efforts of so many are coming to real fruition,” said Charna E. Sherman, president of CAC’s Board of Trustees. “This new alliance will ensure that Cuyahoga County continues to be shining example for arts and culture in the nation.”

“We celebrate the achievements of Arts Cleveland and look forward to this new opportunity to strengthen and unify Cleveland’s arts sector,” said Tony Panzica, chair of the Arts Cleveland Board of Trustees. “Working together we have the opportunity here to see our sector succeed and thrive.”

“By working as an alliance, we can have a transformational creative and economic impact for our community,” said Fred Bidwell, co-chair of the Arts and Culture Action Committee. “With a unified approach, we can maintain the strong and diverse arts sector that is a hallmark of our region.”

A group comprised of existing members from the founding partner Boards are working to conduct a national search for an executive director to lead the new organization. The search will be led by national search firm, Koya Partners, with the aim to hire a director in the first quarter of 2021. In the coming months, the working group will identify program priorities, organizational structure, a new name and brand, and finalize the board composition.

In the fall of 2019, CAC, Arts Cleveland and the ACAC engaged consultants to help the organizations consider if a formal collaboration among partners would better serve the arts community and the region. The work included study of national models and best practices; an overview of the current work of the partner organizations; a look at the evolving trends within the northeast Ohio market and national trends in patterns around funding for the arts.

Arts Cleveland was founded in 1997 as the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), responding to the need for a community-wide, comprehensive arts and culture plan. For more than 20 years, Arts Cleveland advanced the arts and culture community in northeast Ohio through direct service programs, research, and advocacy.

The work and executive director search process is supported with funding from The Cleveland Foundation and The George Gund Foundation.

For additional information, visit

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio and one of the largest public funders for arts and culture in the nation, helping hundreds of organizations in Cuyahoga County connect millions of people to cultural experiences each year. Since 2006, CAC has invested more than $207 million in 436 organizations both large and small, making our community a more vibrant place to live, work and play. For more information, visit

Arts Cleveland is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1997 as the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. Arts Cleveland’s mission is to advance the arts and culture community in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County as its advocate, ally and ambassador. Arts Cleveland influences decision-making in government, civic and philanthropic contexts; highlights and facilitates the intersections of the arts with other sectors; and offers knowledge, skills, resources and connections for the arts and culture sector. For more information, visit

Arts & Culture Action Committee (ACAC) is a 501(c)4 organization operating as a ballot-issues committee to support levies, public funding and other initiatives and referenda that advance arts and culture in Northeast Ohio. Established in 2004, ACAC oversaw the campaign to pass Issue 18 in 2006 under which Cuyahoga County voters approved an excise tax of 1.5 cents per cigarette to support arts and culture in Cuyahoga County. ACAC led the campaign to renew the cigarette excise tax in 2015, which passed with a 75% approval rating.

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CAC Staff