Cleveland Mayoral Candidates and the Arts: Dennis Kucinich

Cleveland Mayoral Candidate Dennis Kucinich. Photo courtesy of the Dennis Kucinich Campaign

CAN Journal and Assembly for the Arts partnered to learn from the 2021 candidates for Mayor of the City of Cleveland about their perspectives and proposed policies related to Arts and Culture.

Arts and culture play a vital, often underrecognized role in driving Cleveland’s economy, workforce and communities forward. According to a study from Ohio Citizens for the Arts, the creative economy generates an economic impact of $9.1 billion in the Cleveland metropolitan area, supporting 62,499 jobs and supplying more than $3.3 billion in wages and proprietor income. The industry comprises nonprofits, for-profit businesses and individual artists.  Collectively, they stimulate innovation, strengthen regional competitiveness, enrich education, infuse creativity into other sectors and challenge us to become a more equitable society.

Ongoing research proves how investing in a strong arts and culture ecosystem is an investment in our community’s overall progress. Children who receive arts education have greater success in math, reading, critical thinking and social skills and are more likely to stay in school. In healthcare, the arts provide proven benefits to patient and caregiver support, public health outreach and community wellbeing.  The arts contribute to Cleveland’s national and international reputation. The creative economy boosts travel and tourism to our area, raises our national prominence and improves quality of life indicators.

Despite these facts, Cleveland is still one of the largest cities that does not fully embed and promote arts and culture into its government structure, even though the sector has one of the largest sources of local support in the country. During this critical moment, we ask Cleveland’s mayoral candidates to respond to a series of questions about their vision for arts and culture in Cleveland’s future.

The Cleveland Mayoral Primary is September 14.

Winners of the primary will face off in the general election November 2.



The Candidate’s Own Experience of the Arts

1) Please describe a memorable art experience you have had as an adult or child?

Dennis Kucinich: I am an author, and have written several books.  I just completed and published  my most recent book, The Division of Light and Power, after 40 years of writing and rewriting.  I understand the deep commitment an artist must make to complete a work.

2) How are you connected to Cleveland’s art scene? Do you participate in local arts activities and events, such as art walks and festivals, rock shows, theatre, dance, film, orchestral concerts, art collecting, museum and gallery exhibitions, photography, writing, spoken word, design and architecture?  

Dennis Kucinich: All of the above.  The arts have been central to my life. As a college student I wrote a play which was critically acclaimed.   By the way, years ago when City Council wanted to demolish one of the Playhouse Square Theatres for a parking lot, I blocked it, and saved Playhouse Square.  As a member of the United States Congress for 16 years, I worked closely with the community of nationally known artists in support of the National Endowments for the Arts.


Arts and Neighborhoods

3) Cleveland has repeatedly seen artists invest in and revitalize neglected neighborhoods, and by their activity, attract additional investment. We’ve seen this in Little Italy, Tremont, North Collinwood, Gordon Square, and other places. How would your administration support development to ensure that artists, people of color and those who have been historically excluded can participate in neighborhood growth?

Dennis Kucinich:  As Mayor, I intend to follow my passion for the arts by elevating the arts, city-wide,  to a high position in our community, with full financial support from city government.

4) The arts have a profound social impact on other sectors according to researchers at Americans for the Arts. How would you engage the arts in other sectors, such as health, or public safety, housing, or neighborhood development?

Dennis Kucinich: As Mayor, I intend to follow my passion for the arts by elevating the arts, city-wide,  to a high position in our community, with full financial support from city government.


Arts and Public Policy:

5) Would you establish a cabinet-level position that would support artists and arts activity in the city?

Dennis Kucinich:  I would appoint a Mayor’s Commission on the Arts.

6) Would you work with the arts and culture community to create a cultural plan to inform and guide progress of the arts sector?

Dennis Kucinich: Yes.

7) Would you allocate a line item in your budget to support the arts and cultural industry?

Dennis Kucinich: Yes.

8) What kind of support structures would you see for the for-profit arts sector, such as music venues that are such an important part of our arts eco-system in the Rock and Roll capital?

Dennis Kucinich:  I intend to support and expand the arts in Cleveland, working with the private sector, non-profits, and foundations.  We will create an arts renaissance in our city!



Ballotopedia Page for Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich Campaign Website

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