Heights Arts proposes Community Arts Center to Coventry School study committee
The Heights Arts Collaborative, a Cleveland Heights arts organization, has a vision for re-using the Coventry school building that calls for the creation of a model community arts center incorporating strong partnerships, diverse programming, and the formation of an umbrella organization to oversee it all.
“We want to be as pro-active as possible and we are interested in exploring what an arts and nonprofit center could be," said Heights Arts Director Peggy Spaeth in a recent interview. Heights Arts is presenting best practices and national models of successful programs, as well as their concept for the arts center, to the Coventry School Committee at its April 8th meeting. “We want to put some vibrant ideas on the table," she said. Ideas include the creation of a flexible performance space, summer arts camps, daytime classes for adults, artist spaces, and early childhood programs in the arts, among others.
Ms. Spaeth, a committee member, said Heights Arts has had a number of conversations with local organizations that are “confirmed in the concept” and who have expressed an interest in the idea of forming a partnership for use of the building. Interested groups are the Heights Parent Center, Reaching Heights, and The Cleveland Music School Settlement. Ms. Spaeth believes that with a core group of tenants, all of whom run programming that serves the CHUH School District's priorities and interests, the arts center would be a good fit for the District, and for Cleveland Heights. And the location is appropriate. "Coventry Village," she said, "has a history as a place where creative people congregate”. Heights Arts believes the re-use of the Coventry school as an arts center presents an additional opportunity for strong partnerships with residents, businesses, community groups, and the public library to reinforce and continue the holistic growth of Coventry Village as a unique and special neighborhood.
Financial sustainability of the re-use of the property, with the District as landlord, will be integral to the success of any project that the CHUH district decides to back if it retains ownership of the property. To that end, Heights Arts is exploring a diverse revenue stream including grants, large-scale individual gifts, and other resources that could be used to fund the center's upkeep and maintenance. Also under discussion is the creation of a governing organization to manage the facility.
The next step, should the Board Of Education decide to pursue the concept, would be to commission a feasibility study that would outline in greater detail what would be required to build and sustain a community arts center at the former Coventry elementary school.