Cleveland Heights is (still) Home to the Arts

In the last month I’ve heard people express the opinion that “Cleveland Heights used to be Home to the Arts” and “Cleveland Orchestra members used to live in Cleveland Heights.” I don’t know where this misperception comes from. We are still, and have been for decades, Home to the Arts! Cleveland Heights was a home to the arts before we claimed the title!

This past summer, there were socially distanced pop-up “porchestra” concerts presented by several resident orchestra members and their colleagues. There is the annual Donut Day put on by bassist Tom Sperl and his family. We have robust orchestra representation in our city, as well as musicians of every genre.

Some people seem to think that “the city” needs to be the agent of arts support. Wait a minute—Cain Park is one of the oldest municipally owned arts parks in the country! And the public art projects, such as the Coventry Arch and murals at Cedar Lee and Cedar Fairmount? Funds were raised by the community, but city staff and elected officials enthusiastically paved the way. The city makes it possible to be creative here.

Rarely does an artist of any media support herself or a family, or earn a living wage. The problem is embedded in our values and priorities, not in city government. Whose responsibility is it to support the arts? Ours.

Even under the current health and economic emergency, you can support the arts in our community. Send a check of any size to a nonprofit arts organization, as frequently as you can. There are many, and they are struggling, as are small businesses. Purchase local art at Heights Arts. How lucky we are to have a retail venue selling and displaying local art!

Do not think that the arts are fading from our city. You can’t even go to the grocery store without bumping into an artist of some kind. This community has always been a magnet for creative people, and always will be, especially if we support them.

Peggy Spaeth

Peggy Spaeth is the retired founding director of Heights Arts.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:28 AM, 02.26.2021