Artists for ARPA: Just Two Percent

Artists for ARPA supports the creative workforce, including Robin Robinson and Gary Williams, leaders of Sankofa Fine Arts Plus, who created this mural in Ward 7.


For decades, the City of Cleveland, has had a scarce commitment to the support of the arts and cultural sector. In particular, the creative workforce—the individual people who actually do the creating– has been exceedingly undervalued.  Those are people hit hard by the COVID crisis. Currently the arts sector, coordinated by Assembly for the Arts, is asking Cleveland City Council to approve Mayor Justin Bibb’s recommendation that $10 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds be invested in the arts, including the creative workforce. That is two (2) cents out of each of the $511 million that Cleveland has to spend. Two percent.

The entire creative workforce has been disproportionately impacted, because COVID precautions (and common sense) have limited large gatherings, which is so often how artists get paid. The work force includes singer Kyle Kidd from Mourning [A] BLKstar, who lives in Kerry McCormack’s ward; the designer Jamal Collins who teaches at Boys and Girls Club and PNC Fairfax Connection  in Blaine Griffin’s ward;  muralist and artist, Robin Robinson from Sankofa Fine Art Plus in Anthony Hairston’s ward; the poet, Ali Black in Kevin Bishop’s Mt. Pleasant, Union-Miles ward; and so many others. These artists as well as the countless framers, installers, ticket takers, choreographers, and other workforce creatives that fuel our non-profits, grand institutions, and independent music venues. The entire arts and cultural ecosystem is counting on this ARPA support recommended by the Bibb Administration in the Transition Report.

It’s urgent that you support this effort.

Artists for ARPA is a campaign coordinated by Assembly for the Arts and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture  to help advocate for the much needed support. Artists are rooted here and are  the weavers of the very fabric of  neighborhoods. Artists like Dru Christine who started her Women-owned business storefront, Dru Christine Fabrics & Design in Michael Poelnsek’s ward, and Nathalie Bermudez, an actress and visual artist working at LatinUS Theater and exhibiting her paintings at the brand new Pivot Center for the Arts,  in Jasmin Santana’s ward.

Artist Nathalie Bermudez, at work

The cultural workforce is at the center of this city’s health, wellness and quality of life. The creative workforce has the same needs as other small businesses.  Artists lost their jobs or were furloughed during the pandemic and need adequate healthcare, support for supplies, and money for rent. The creative work force needs this support so they can, in turn, support neighbors, their communities,  and the ethos of this city, directly and expansively.

An example of this work is at Cleveland Public Theater’s YHaven program. YHaven provides men who have substance abuse disorders and are living in temporary housing with opportunity to work with CPT’s professional actors and playwrights, and learn to create and perform their own stories. The Arts, including theatre, address critical personal, interpersonal, and job-related skills through a comprehensive process of trust and collaboration. The YHAVEN program is at the intersection of social service, infrastructure, tourism, creative economy, health and human services and sustainability. This is an example of the vital work that happens every day in all 17 wards of Cleveland. Artists need support to survive, so they can spread it outward and offer other Clevelanders the capacity to not only heal, but to thrive.

Artist Scott Pickering, at work in Slavic Village

The Arts, are often characterized as a dalliance, a fringe industry, something that is not needed or necessary in people’s lives. Neighborhoods like Detroit Shoreway and Tremont have invested in arts and culture as healing partners, creative contributors, and stewards of resilience. Imagine the arts as an essential seat represented at Justin Bibb’s Executive table, leveraging this power across all 17 wards.  As we head into March, when ARPA dollars are slated to be allocated, imagine what this support can offer to the people of Cleveland’s beloved community in this liminal and unprecedented time of loss. Artists for ARPA needs your voice in action!

So here is how you can help!  Every art lover, art supporter, creative business owner, patron of the arts, maker, designer, muralist, public artist, arts advocate…WE NEED YOU … to lift up your voice through the Artists for ARPA postcard campaign. This campaign is led by creative people, for creative people with the support of Assembly for the Arts and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. We’ve created 17 unique and vibrant postcards, featuring artists of all disciplines in all 17 Cleveland City Wards. Let’s flood City Hall with powerful postcard messages of why our community matters to Cleveland and why Creative Workers need this financial support – 2% of ARPA for the Arts


Attend an ARPA Party at an East, West or Central location

Join the party and write messages direct to City Council members on beautiful postcards. Parties are open to all members of the arts community, advocates, supporters and art lovers.

Press will be in attendance at east and west locations. Assembly + Artist Managers will collect and deliver all ARPA Party cards direct to City Hall


Dates + Locations:

West Side: The Happy Dog, Thurs, Feb 24, 2022, happy hour 4:30-6 p.m.

East Side: Sankofa Fine Arts, Thurs, March 3, 2022, happy hour 4-6 p.m.


Request a Postcard Kit

Postcard Kits are packs of all 18 postcards including postage and an Assembly button. Kits will be available at select locations. Community members can request a kit be mailed to them on the Assembly site or through Artist Managers.


Partner Locations include:
Rainey Institute

PIVOT Center for the Arts (Future Ink Graphics)

Beachland Ballroom

Yards Projects at Worthington YARDS

78th Street Studios (Collective Arts Network)

Sankofa Fine Art Plus


Email Your Representative

In addition to handwritten messages, we encourage the community to email their representative in support of 2% of ARPA for the Arts using the easy form on the Assembly site.

Meet us at City Hall

Join Assembly for the Arts, and others at City Hall [tentatively for the City Council meeting Feb. 28], while we deliver the mass of postcard messages directly to our council members. Stand in support of 2% of ARPA for the Arts and help make the presence of the arts community known.




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