Mayor Michael R. White

Division of Recreation's Bureau of Cultural Arts

Program Narrative

The City of Cleveland's Division of Recreation operates 18 recreation centers, one visual art center and 3 outposts. The program being nominated for the Christina Mattin Arts Award is the Division of Recreation's Bureau of Cultural Arts. The mission of the city's arts program is to enhance the quality of life of it's citizens by offering activities, facilities, classes and performers to provide the public with programs in dance, fine arts, crafts, and drama within the city service structure and through collaborative programs with area artists and art organizations. An expressed goal Is our focus on improving the lives of the young people who attend our after school and summer programs in our recreation centers.

Program Design & Creative Content

The Bureau of Cultural Arts employs a full time manager, a full time Center Manager and Junior Clerk at Cudell Fine Arts Center, ten full-time roving art instructors (nine visual art teachers, and one dance teacher), and three part time student aide instructors. Together, these teachers offer the public over 175 classes each week In a community based setting operated through our 21 recreation facilities. During the

summer, the Bureau of Cultural Arts operates the Showagon. Showagon Is a mobile stage that provides local amateur talent shows for at least one neighborhood in all twenty one wards in the City of Cleveland. Young people from all over the city of Cleveland participate in Showagon, whose earliest performances date back to the 1940's. While the Bureau serves a diverse cross-section of Cleveland's population, the primary focus of our programming is on the young people who attend our recreation centers, and who are considered "at-risk" because of community and family circumstances.

Quality of Instruction & Participant Performance

The Bureau of Cultural Arts is comprised of veteran recreational staff with visual and performing art's training and recent graduates of local art Institutes, both of whom bring professionalism and a strong social service consciousness to their work with young people. Our goal in teaching Is not just to give the youth something to do, but to help them discover that special talent within so that they feel free to create and express themselves. The natural outcome of this is a greater self-discipline, a willingness to participate, Improved self esteem, and a strong inner voice that helps young people become vibrant contributors to the society in which they live. The combination of dynamic teachers and equally dynamic programming is the key to participant performance. With kilns at thirteen of the city's recreation facilities, youth enjoy ceramic classes as they learn a variety of clay techniques. Arts and crafts offerings include papier-mâché, jewelry design, pop art and recycled art projects.

Painting and drawing, air brush and cartooning classes occupy the attention of the serious student. Fine art dance classes In ballet and tap attract many students, and the drama clubs at our recreation facilities give kids a chance to become skilled communicators. Visual and performing art classes for youth are offered year round.

The program takes a creative approach to engaging and keeping the Interest of the young participants: in each of the art disciplines. young people have a forum in which they can showcase their work before the public. The visual art students have individual center art exhibitions, regional and city-wide art shows in which they are encouraged to enter their work. All the shows are judged, and young people have a chance

to win a variety of prizes. In addition to visual art presentations, the drama clubs combine their efforts annually to present a holiday program, which is performed in a professional setting before the Mayor, other city dignitaries and hundreds of recreation center kids. Dance classes practice all season to prepare pieces for the summer Showagon program. This strategy gives kids concrete goals to work toward, which puts them In contact with the community around them.

Integration of Support Services & Prevention Strategies

Idle time and negative peer influences are strong contributing factors why young people turn to drugs, develop an apathy toward school, and engage In criminal behavior. Behind this self-destructive facade however, Is a lost young soul crying out for help. The strongest prevention strategy Is dynamic and relevant programs that speak to the interests and imaginations of today's kids. The programs provided

through the Bureau of Cultural Arts are Intended to give children a strong support network during the after-school hours and during the summer where they can freely create and express themselves in useful, constructive and beautiful ways. Thus, we put them on a road to self-discovery where they gain the inner strength and confidence to stand strong against the negative influences In their lives.

In addition, children in our art programs are exposed to a variety of youth at risk support services that focus on child development goals. Leadership clubs exist at several of our centers, where youth learn decision making skills, discuss Issues relevant to them, and stage teen summit meetings. Community leaders are brought in to discuss at risk behaviors. Recreation centers also have youth advisory councils, a forum where children are involved In decisions related to the center such as programming, fund raising and field trips. Every recreation center has up to date computers and software. Classes for young people are taught by professionals who also work with the children on homework assignments. Homework clubs are being formed to complement the computer classes, where youth tutor and mentor one another. Improved school grades and attendance naturally result through involvement in the computer classes and the at-risk programs.

Community Support & Involvement

It Is critical to connect the youth In our programs with the professional art world around them. In doing so, young people brush up against artistic excellence, which can't help but inspire them to greater achievements in their own lives. In pursuit of this goal, the Bureau of Cultural Arts works closely with the Cleveland art community to provide this Important link to our program. Field trips to the Cleveland Art Museum are mandatory for our visual art classes, and the museum has been generous In providing free tickets to recent exhibits, such as Diego Rivera and Buggatti. The Cleveland Playhouse and the Great Lakes Theater Festival offer us a limited number of complimentary tickets to their main stage productions, and close ties have been established with Cleveland Opera on Tour to bring some of their excellent outreach programs to our centers.

Two new initiatives within the bureau deserve mention. The "Excellence Through The Arts" program (ETTA) was designed to provide the bureau with funds to start unique programs in the performing arts, such as circus arts, performance poetry, hip hop dance and puppetry. The program has received funding from two local foundations. Classes are scheduled to begin in the new year. "The Arts Are For Everyone" is an initiative to establish a ticket fund for the children to see the major cultural art productions that come to Cleveland. To date, Cleveland Public Power has provided funds for 30 kids to see each play produced by Cleveland's historic Karamu House.

Role of The Mayor & City Government

The Mayor of Cleveland, Michael R. White, is a strong supporter of the city's cultural art's program. A main focus of his administration is on constructive, meaningful activities for the children in all of Cleveland's neighborhoods, and the Mayor understands the strong attraction that the arts have on the minds and Imaginations of today's youth.

Financing Mechanisms For The Program

The cultural art's program is financed through city tax revenues. Support for staff and supplies comes from this same source. Other support for new projects such as Excellence Through The Arts and The Arts Are For Everyone has come from the local foundation community, more specifically in this case. The Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.


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