Collinwood Residents Vote on Arts & Culture Offerings

Collinwood Residents Vote on Arts & Culture Offerings Carissa WoytachNortheast Shores Community Development Corporation

Located on the east side of Cleveland, Collinwood is a neighborhood that once suffered from a loss of revenue from the depature of the steel industry, but today is swiftly gaining population thanks to an increase in lakefront property and a push for homeownership. It’s also a hub for arts and culture.

The first of its kind in Ohio, Collinwood’s Ballot Box Initiative gave community residents the opportunity to decide what arts and culture programming they wanted through a voting campaign held in spring 2016.

The project allowed those living in the area to decide how the community would spend “their” money. It invited locals to submit projects to receive funding from the $120,000 the neighborhood had to spend on arts and culture initiatives.

Starting in October 2015 with preliminary community meetings, residents selected four issues the projects should address: Collinwood history, vacancy, healthy eating and youth engagement.

The project received 34 submissions and funded nine with awards varying from $12,500 to $15,000. Leading up to voting, groups could campaign within the community at “science-fair” style exhibits, educating voters about the Ballot Box project, as well as the individual proposals.

Voting, which was open to any Collinwood resident over the age of 14, began in March. Polling locations included high schools during lunch hours to allow young residents to vote. With 522 voters’ selections, many of the winner’s projects will go into effect this summer.

To kick off the voting, Northeast Shores Development Corporation organized the “Democracy on the Move” parade on March 4. The approximately two-mile procession wound its way from the Collinwood Recreation Center (16300 Lakeshore Blvd.) to the Slovenian Workmen's Home (15335 Waterloo Road), with local musicians performing at Glencove (231 E. 156th St.) and BRICK Ceramic + Design Studio (420 E. 161st St.). It included a New Orleans-style brass band, floats from local businesses—several from the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District—stilt walkers and “funky art.”
The winners include:

Stephen Bivens, Collinwood history:
“This is Collinwood: History in Everyday People,” will offer free family portrait opportunities during the summer at local businesses. The resulting photographs will be on display at community locations such as libraries and the recreation center.

Benjamin Smith, Collinwood history:
An ice cream truck with recording equipment, known as the “Splice-Cream Truck,” will be at local events and special occasions, chronicling local artists, residents and patrons to create a record of everyday history within the neighborhood.

Linda Zolten Wood, healthy eating:
A free workshop for families to create upcycled characters and play games focused on learning about healthy eating. Participants will win real prizes of local produce with two games at two locations during the summer.

Lori Kella, healthy eating:
This project focuses on creating environmental portraits of gardeners and local produce, which will later be published in a cookbook with seasonal recipes provided by Collinwood residents.

Kevin Scheuring, healthy eating:
This program plans to create three local food shows for residents, including four free cooking classes held in the weeks following each seasonal show. These hands-on cooking programs hope to promote healthy eating and cooking techniques, and food preservation. By engaging with local chefs, food pantries and other community groups, residents will be able to taste gourmet food and learn from the chefs that made it.

Michael Hudecek, vacancy:
To address property vacancy rates, “Craft Up Collinwood” hopes to teach residents how to create art installations using upcycled materials, which will then be attached to empty storefronts, boarded up buildings and other lesser-used areas of the city.

Margret Craig, youth engagement:
Children in Collinwood will learn about photography, spoken-word poetry, creative writing and drama, and use these skills to teach other residents about arts programs in the community. They will also be paid for their work on the project.

Cindy Barber, youth engagement:
Area youth will be employed part-time to pull bicycle rickshaws at special events. They will relay Collinwood history to patrons, as well as decorate their rickshaws with art and poetry about the area.

Bridget Caswell, youth engagement:
The “Collinwood Camera Club” will teach local high schoolers photography skills, allowing them to take artistic photographs in their community as a way to tell stories and offer free portrait sessions to residents.