08.23.05 Excellence Roundtable NOTES: New Arts Innovation in NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 08/24/2005 - 01:36.

Around two dozen NEO arts champions came together for the 08.23.05 Excellence Roundtable, which featured overviews of current work by newCAT, CIA and CPAC, among many important regional, innovative arts initiatives.

We began discussions with William Scheele, CEO of newCAT (New Collaboration for Arts and Technology) explaining the history of his groundbreaking arts not-for-profit, which brings world-class technology related art to NEO, and nurtures creating of the same right here. newCAT was founded in 2002 envisioning a facility based center for exhibiting technology related art, including multimedia, holograms, computer generated and interactive art. newCAT sponsored many landmark shows over the years, and is currently working with the upcoming Ingenuity Festival by organizing a number of exceptional and globally important exhibits - info on this and newCAT is found at their website at http://www.newcat.org/events.html

Looking to the future, Bill sees newCAT collaborating with many area organizations to host similar innovative and interactive arts exhibits, making NEO a world center in the field. As this roundtable included many leaders of arts organizations open to such collaboration, doors were opened. Clear opportunities exist with CPAC, CIA, Playhouse Square Foundation, Access to the Arts and the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, which were all represented today.

Following Bill's introduction, the director of the Cleveland Institute of Art's new Design Technology Transfer Center, David Moss, discussed his initiative. Built from a multi-year planning process, the Design Center is facilities based, being located in the CIA "Factory" building in Euclid Avenue. The Center is planned to provide area businesses and organizations a formal process for partnering with advanced CIA students and to assist CIA students to succeed as arts professionals, while in school and after graduation.

The Design Center will partner with area organizations whereby they pay a significant portion of a student's tuition and in return work for the organization becomes design center and CIA project work, and the student works outside school with the partnering organization, as well. The Design Center also coordinates relationship building and contracting for students working with area businesses. Roundtable attendee organizations REALNEO and OneCleveland are each in partner relations with the Design Center.

The Design Center facility will have exhibit space, meeting and project work space, and offer incubator facilities and business support services. Students and graduates who propose business plans to the Design Center will be assisted in developing their plans and setting up businesses - CIA and Design Center staff will then assist the students and graduates to succeed. Plans that fit the space and resources of the incubator space will be given up to two years of facility space. The Design Center will open November 4th. The CIA can be visited online at http://cia.edu

Community Partnership for Arts and Culture CEO Thomas Schorgl summarized CPAC by saying they don't make the arts, they make them work better. CPAC was formed around 2000 as an arts research, advocacy/policy and business support organization. Tom ran through an astounding list of work they perform in the community and plan for the future, from securing lowest cost health insurance for artists and providing business consulting and entrepreneurship education, to working with the regional and state political leaders to devise innovative funding strategies. He expects one such innovative program to bear fruit in 2006, when a $ million micro-loan initiative should be in place to provide lowest cost loans for artists not qualified for traditional financing. More on CPAC is found at http://www.cpacbiz.org.

By this stage of the roundtable it was clear these three featured initiatives have opportunities for collaboration. As other attendees introduced themselves it became clear there were many other synergies in the room.

Playhouse  Square Center Education Manager Ray Gargano pointed out their excellent facilities are made available for area artists and they provide a wide range of education programming and outreach in the community - they also have some funding available for development of additional arts education programming and content and encouraged those interested in that to contact him - see his organization at http://playhousesquare.com

MaryBeth Matthews, arts instructor at the Cleveland Public Schools, has already been very successful partnering with CIA and that is a source of talent for the area's future - CMSD's Louise Dempsey expressed how important Cleveland Schools leaders see the arts to the success of our young people and stressed great efforts are always taken to protect the arts from budget woes. During the roundtable, Louise discussed many innovative initiatives of roundtable attendee OneCleveland to support arts and education in the Cleveland Schools - a passion and area of expertise of OneCleveland Chief Imagination Office Stephen Brand. OneCleveland's COO Mark Ansboury proposed how they can also help the Cleveland Schools secure more grant and federal funding for technology, which supports the arts and all school innovation. 

These highlights barely scratch the surface of the insight raised at today's roundtable - the best connections are always one-on-one, found in serendipities of informal dialogue.

At the end of the luncheon, we discussed an opportunity the Roundtable participants should pursue - proposing a development project to CoolTown Studios, in Washington, DC, which is making available $40 million in new urbanism project funding and is interested to explore project potential in Greater Cleveland - more on this is found at http://neoexcellence.realinks.us/CoolTowns and will be discussed in future roundtables.

In closing, we discussed that the August 30 Roundtable will feature Generation-X expert Rebecca Ryan - see invitation at http://neoexcellence.realinks.us/NEO-Gen-X-Invite - this is filling up quickly so please RSVP to norm [at] realinks [dot] us if you intend to join in.