CAC Discusses Process, Goals for Proposed Individual Artist Program

CAC Staff discusses the proposed Creative Community Fellowships, administered by Washington, DC-based National Arts Strategies, during CAC's November 14 Board Meeting.

CAC Staff discusses the proposed Creative Community Fellowships, administered by Washington, DC-based National Arts Strategies, during CAC’s November 14 Board Meeting.

Artists’ discussion and complaints about the proposed new direction of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture individual artist grants has been focused as much on the selection process and criteria as it has been on the possibility of sending local tax dollars to an out-of-state agency. Cuyahoga Arts and Culture offered these answers to questions posed by CAN:

CAN: How will the application process go for the NAS-run individual artist program?

CAC: Like with the current Creative Workforce Fellowship program, we will rely on an intermediary – in this case, CAC has proposed working with National Arts Strategies — to design and administer the application process.

NAS’s application process is based on their proven national model, with some slight modifications to reflect our community’s needs. NAS was established in 1983 by the ForCAC Staff discusees d, Andrew W. Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations and has a long history of contributing to a strong, dynamic arts and culture sector and has a unique depth of experience. In Cleveland, NAS has led trainings for local arts leaders since the 1990s. NAS created the Creative Community Fellow program with the support of the Kresge Foundation, Bush Foundation, Knight Foundation, Penn Social Policy and Practice (University of Pennsylvania).

We will also work with local partners to ensure that local expertise and relationships are built into the new Creative Community Fellows program. Our local partners will help us and NAS in the outreach and recruitment of applicants – helping to ensure that as many residents (including past and current CWF fellows) as possible know about and apply to this new opportunity. We have invited CPAC to be an official partner in the Creative Community Fellowship program and hope they will join us in this work.

CAN: Will people submit proposals?

CAC: Yes, there is an application process, as noted above.

CAN: Will they submit portfolios?

CAC: Yes, all applicants are required to share and discuss their work in their applications.

CAN: Will they be chosen for their portfolios of art made, or some other criteria?

CAC: The application process and criteria are developed and managed by NAS.  From their website:

Selection Criteria: The Creative Community Fellows program is designed for individuals igniting change through arts and culture in their community. We are looking for curious, open and collaborative individuals who are interested in learning and sharing what they learn. We want people who are dedicated to creating healthy neighborhoods and who will recognize and seize opportunities for change.

CAN: How will the potential for making change in their communities be evaluated?

CAN: This is where NAS is an expert. Their program is designed to develop a cohort of ~20 artists/residents who intend to learn and collaborate together to drive physical and social transformations in their communities.  Potential for change is evaluated during the application and interview process using a formalized process that considers 1) what is the applicant’s relationship to their community? 2) does the applicant have a proven track record with their work or a project?, and 3) does the applicant demonstrate the necessary skills and community connection.

Additionally, evaluation throughout the program (in partnership with FSG), is designed to assess participants short-term impacts, and groundwork for long-term, sustainable change.

CAN: Will all artists be evaluated using the same criteria? That is … if “emerging” artists are encouraged to apply, will they be identified and evaluated as such?

CAC: Yes—all applicants will be evaluated with the same criteria.

There may be an incorrect perception that this program will exclude artists responsible for the amazing work being produced in our community. That’s not the case. We want past and current fellows to apply. It’s less about evaluating a body of past work, and more about understanding how a participant will use their artistic practice to imagine a different future and help transform their community for the better.

Past CCF participants (view examples) have received Peabody awards, Bush Fellowships, six-figure NEA grants and have served as TED Fellows and received numerous other national awards for their work. Two examples of CCF fellows who have gained national attention for their art, include:

The program is also about including individuals who have great ideas but haven’t had the tools, time or funding to take their ideas forward. This program is about everyone working individually and together to move their ideas forward to transform their communities.

Look to our previous post for an overview of how artists have responded to the proposal.


The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.

Leave a Reply