2021 was...

challenging healing hopeful inspiring intense a little bit brighter

2021 Report to the Community

Student Artwork: Art House, Inc. CAC-funded 15 years

Time and again, we hear that funding from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is a difference maker for nonprofit organizations in Cuyahoga County.

In 2021, the impact of the taxpayer dollars we collect and distribute had an even more profound effect on arts and culture organizations of all shapes and sizes during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations funded by CAC reported more than $171 million in lost revenues from March 2020 through December 2021, impacting the employment of more than 5,000 people.

CAC’s funding helps to sustain the county’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations. That’s why, despite CAC’s predicted declining revenue, we kept our promise to the community and maintained steady funding levels for our grant programs for the past three years.

Like many organizations, we are doing more with less, yet our support for local arts and culture organizations remains steadfast. We believe that one of the best things we can do for the creative sector is to be consistent in our funding for as long as possible.

In 2020, we worked with the nonprofit Assembly for the Arts to secure $3 million in CARES Act relief from the county for arts nonprofits. In 2022, Cuyahoga County committed to providing $1.65 million in funding made possible by the American Rescue Plan for the arts nonprofits we fund. We are grateful to our local government partners for recognizing the importance of the creative sector as a vital part of our local economy. 

And, we are grateful to the nearly 300 nonprofit organizations CAC funds across Cuyahoga County for their unwavering commitment to the community. As needs changed, the arts responded. Last year, CAC-funded organizations reinvented their programming, experimented with new ways to reach audiences and worked tirelessly in service of the community. We are honored to support these organizations that offered hope and healing when we needed it the most. 

As we reflect on the highs and lows of the last year, we renew our commitment to making tomorrow brighter by investing in arts and culture. And we say thank you to Cuyahoga County residents for their support of CAC

Jill M. Paulsen
Executive Director

Nancy Mendez
President, Board of Trustees 

CAC granted


to 295 organizations

Total granted since 2007
$ 0
Total number of grants since 2007
Total organizations funded since 2007

Photo: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Eduardo Olmeda, CAC-funded 15 years

CAC’s annual budgeting accounts for the predicted decline in revenues based on fewer cigarette sales, the source of our revenue. For 15 straight years, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) has received a clean audit report from the Ohio Auditor of State. 

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$ 11,984,600 Revenues

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$ 13,038,556 Expenses

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$ 17,605,124 Net Position
  • Change in Net Position
  • Net Position Start of 2021

Since March 2020 through December 2021, 65 nonprofit organizations in CAC’s General Operating Support grant program reported:

total people laid off, furloughed, or hours reduced
in lost compensation for creative workers
$ 0 million
total revenue lost
$ 0 million

Yet, CAC’s grant recipients were resilient. 20,000 programs shifted to online or with COVID-19 precautions.

Photo: India Festival USA, CAC-funded 4 years

In 2021, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture helped bring art and culture to residents in thousands of locations – in theaters museums outdoor spaces neighborhood blocks and so many more

Find a CAC-supported event near you.

Photo: Valley Art Center, CAC-funded 15 years

Each dot represents the location of a CAC-funded program or event in 2021. 

The Children's Museum of Cleveland Maria Campanelli, Executive Director
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“CAC support gives us capacity to grow and better serve our community.”

Photo: The Children’s Museum of Cleveland – Hattie Kotz, CAC-funded 15 years

Photo: Hospice of Western Reserve,
CAC-funded 12 years

Hospice of the Western Reserve and Art Therapy Studio
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“People who lost loved ones during COVID had an inability to process grief. Creating art is a healing process in itself.”

Art as therapy is not a new concept, but it has gained momentum as Cuyahoga County residents sought ways to process their emotions during COVID. Hospice of the Western Reserve and Art Therapy Studio responded by making their art therapy programs more accessible.

Hospice of the Western Reserve moved its in-person bereavement workshops to a virtual format, sending supplies to participants’ homes and breaking up the session into two parts, which allowed more time for people to share their feelings and discuss their grief, said Mollie Borgione, a board certified art therapist with Hospice of the Western Reserve. The change was so well received the organization will continue to offer a virtual option for workshops.

“We focus on how to get through your grief and what you can do to help yourself,” she said. “Friends and family may not get it, but when you’re with people who know what you’re going through, it’s easier to share and process your feelings.”

Art Therapy Studio increased its outreach in the community in 2021 to help young students develop social and emotional skills when school was virtual. Working with residents of Lakeview Terrace at the homework center at Malachi Center in Ohio City and with after-school programs at five libraries in the Cuyahoga County Public Library system, therapists fostered skills, such as sharing and communication, or helped kids work through the stress of the pandemic, said Michelle Epps, Art Therapy Studio’s Executive Director.

On the surface, the activities seem just like fun, but there’s purpose behind them. Making slime is a sensory experience and promotes self-soothing. A group art activity that purposely lacks enough scissors and glue sticks encourages collaboration and sharing. Making beaded bracelets with power words, such as “love” or “courage,” helps to build self-esteem.

“Sometimes kids just need a safe space to do art. Other times, kids need help for intense behavioral issues,” Epps said. “We have 11 therapists in the community, and most are always working on site with a community partner. In the last few years, there has been an increased recognition of the effectiveness of art therapy interventions.”

Photo: Community Cup Classic Foundation, CAC-funded 2 years

Community Cup Classic Foundation
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“It’s not always about baseball. We’re meeting residents where they are to improve health equity in urban neighborhoods.”

The Community Cup Classic Foundation hosts a monthly series of multi-generational programs showcasing the legacy of baseball’s Negro Leagues and the African American experience in baseball. It also brings necessary health screenings to neighborhoods.

Its programs highlight how the Negro League’s players’ experiences reflect American society and culture and provide inspiration and encouragement to those facing similar challenges today. But, Community Cup Classic Foundation’s reach goes beyond baseball history.

At in-person events, the organization works with local health partners to offer screenings, vaccines and education that address Social Determinants of Health, such as lead, high blood pressure and cancers.

“Our Community Cup experiences overlap so many things. It’s not always about baseball. It’s crossed with history and what is happening politically, and we’re meeting residents where they are to improve health equity in urban neighborhoods,” said Juan Goodwin, co-leader of The Community Cup Classic Foundation.

The Movement ProjectMegan L. Gargano, Artistic Director, Founder & Choreographer
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“CAC's support has helped The Movement Project bring back live dance performances in a time of difficulty for the arts.”

Photo: The Movement Project – Black Valve, CAC-funded 5 years

Photo: Cavani Quartet,
CAC-funded 3 years

Cavani Quartet
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“We try to engage young people to learn how to trust their strengths through art, and when they do, the sky’s the limit.”

The Cavani String Quartet’s ground-breaking project Beyond Beethoven, included a concert series in 2021, which showcased culturally diverse composers from across the world, intertwined with the complete string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven.

For Beyond Beethoven, Cavani Quartet collaborated with several CAC-funded organizations: The Music Settlement, Arts Renaissance Tremont, The Cleveland Chamber Music Society, and the Cleveland Orchestra Education and Community Engagement Program. Interfacing with young artists across the Cleveland area, Cavani Quartet performed artist residencies at Cleveland School of the Arts, Cleveland Heights High School, Lakewood High School, and Strongsville High School.

The project also gave 100 student string musicians from those high schools a chance of a lifetime – to perform with the Cavani Quartet at Severance Hall in December 2021.

“When we got up on that stage, there was such a feeling of love and teamwork before we even played a note. The students just loved the process of learning a brand-new work as well as a movement of Beethoven and the process of attaining a performance at the highest level,” said Cavani Quartet Founder and Violinist Annie Fullard. “We try to engage young people to learn how to trust their strengths through art, and when they do, the sky’s the limit.”

Fullard added that CAC’s support was instrumental. “We really appreciate that CAC supports projects such as Beyond Beethoven. CAC makes it possible to collaborate and thrive in the incredible Cleveland arts community.”

Photo: Nature Center at Shaker Lakes – Perkoski Photography,
CAC-funded 15 years

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
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“People flocked to parks and outdoor spaces during the pandemic. We saw a three-fold increase in visitation.”

In September 2021, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes completed a five-year campaign to restore and enhance its trails and outdoor classroom facilities.

The Nature Center now offers a variety of outdoor amenities to help people of all ages and abilities connect with nature, including an extensive ADA-accessible trail network, a treehouse, nature play area, and outdoor amphitheater.

“CAC’s general operating support and CARES Act funding helped sustain our operations and programming throughout the challenges of COVID-19, allowing us to focus on long-term investments in our mission. Our investment in the Nature Center’s outdoor classroom could not have come at a better time, as people flocked to parks and outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw a three-fold increase in visitation when the pandemic began, and we had over 140,000 visits during 2021,” said Nature Center President & CEO Kay Carlson.

Slavic Village DevelopmentChris Alvarado, Executive Director
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“With Project Support, we shifted Rooms To Let: CLE to an outdoor experience at the height of COVID-19.”

Photo: Slavic Village Development, CAC-funded 8 years

With support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, three local nonprofits provided critical funding and resources to more than 30 local artists in 2021. The 2021 Support for Artists (SFA) grants to Karamu House, SPACES, and Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center offered access to space, funding, and other resources to local artists – with priority for artists who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented.  

Elisa Clark's Telly Award-winning short film, “Separated” addresses the very personal and human aspect of the issue of immigration in the United States. She created this film through the SFA grant and filmed scenes on Julia de Burgos' campus. "My experience with the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center was absolutely phenomenal...I would highly recommend it for other artists looking for support for their artistic aspirations."
“I strive to produce art that honors my ancestors who have endured endless tribulation in America, the beautiful. Oftentimes my lyrics shine a light on the resilience and fortitude demonstrated by Black Americans who are expected to perform and present themselves as ‘proper’ without equal or adequate resources.”
“My objective as an artist was to inspire our youth around the importance of self-expression through photography. I achieved that goal through educating our younger generation about the fundamentals of photography and the history of photography in black culture. I created The I.C.A.R.Y. (Impactful Changes for At Risk Youth) Project with the purpose of providing artist fellowships to young artists and exposing their talents.”

Creativity is everywhere – including our neighborhoods. That’s why CAC makes grants to Neighborhood Connections and ioby, two nonprofits that empower Cuyahoga County residents to make art and share inspiration with one another.

Match Funds
Raised on ioby.org
Total Raised for Residents


Implemented the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Program and directed $177,284 to 32 local arts and culture projects.

To date, CAC’s investment of $185,000 in match funds has supported residents to raise an additional $235,241 for a total of more than $420,000 for 77 projects led by Cuyahoga County residents.

Neighborhood Connections

Invested nearly $44,000 in CAC funding into 33 projects in Cleveland and East Cleveland neighborhoods through the Neighbor Up Action Grants Program.  

To date, CAC has invested $720,000 to co-fund more than 420 projects through this grant.

CAC is proud to support hundreds of nonprofits that bring arts and culture to residents across Cuyahoga County in 2022.


ABREPASO Flamenco 

Achievement Centers for Children 

AfricaHouse International 

America Asian Pacific Islander Organization 

America SCORES Cleveland 

American Hungarian Friends of Scouting 

American Slovenian Polka Foundation 

Apollo’s Fire 

Art House 

Art of Me 

Art Therapy Studio 

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve 

Arts Impact 

Arts In Strongsville 

Arts Renaissance Tremont 

Assembly for the Arts 


Baldwin Wallace Community Arts School 


Bay Village Community Band 

Beachwood Arts Council 

Beck Center for the Arts 

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging 

Berea Arts Fest 

Big Creek Connects 

Blazing River Arts Group 

Blue Streak Ensemble 

BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival 

Brite Cleveland 

Broadway School of Music and the Arts 

Brooklyn Heights Service Clubs 

Buck Out Foundation 

Building Bridges 

Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. 


Campus District, Incorporated 

Carolyn L. Farrell Foundation 

Case Western Reserve University 

Cassidy Theatre 

Catholic Charities, Fatima Center 

Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District 

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning 

Cesear’s Forum 

Chagrin Arts 

Chagrin Documentary Film Festival 

Chagrin Valley Little Theatre 

ChamberFest Cleveland 

Children’s Museum of Cleveland 

Choral Arts Society of Cleveland 

City Ballet of Cleveland 

CityMusic Cleveland 

Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers 

Cleveland Ballet 

Cleveland Botanical Garden 

Cleveland Chamber Choir 

Cleveland Chamber Collective 

Cleveland Chamber Music Society 

Cleveland Chamber Symphony 

Cleveland Classical Guitar Society 

Cleveland Composers Guild 

Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation 

Cleveland Institute of Art 

Cleveland Institute of Music 

Cleveland International Film Festival 

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra 

Cleveland Leadership Center 

The Cleveland Museum of Art 

Cleveland Museum of Natural History 

Cleveland Opera Theater 

Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra 

Cleveland Photo Fest 

Cleveland Play House 

Cleveland Pops Orchestra 

Cleveland Public Theatre 

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 

Cleveland Restoration Society 

Cleveland Rocks  Past, Present and Future 

Cleveland School of the Arts Board of Trustees 

Cleveland Seed Bank

Cleveland Shakespeare Festival 

Cleveland TOPS Swingband 

Cleveland Treatment Center 

Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project 

Cleveland Women’s Orchestra 

Collective Arts Network 



Colors+Youth Center 

Comité Mexicano 

Community Cup Classic Foundation 

Connecting for Kids 

Contemporary Youth Orchestra 


Coventry Village Special Improvement District 

Cudell Improvement 




Dancing Wheels

Deutscher Musik Verein 

Djapo Cultural Arts Institute 

Doan Brook Watershed Partnership 

Dobama Theatre 

Downtown Cleveland Alliance 


Dunham Tavern Museum 

Eliza Bryant Village 

Encore Chamber Music 

Ensemble Theatre 


Far West Center 



Foluke Cultural Arts Center 

Food Strong 

FRONT International 

Front Line Services 

Front Steps Housing and Services 



Gardening in the District 

Global Cleveland 

Good Company: A Vocal Ensemble 

Graffiti HeArt Corporation 

Great Lakes Science Center 

Great Lakes Theater 

Greater Cleveland Film Commission 

Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers 

Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival 

GroundWorks DanceTheater 

Harvard Community Services Center 


Heights Youth Theatre 

Henry Johnson Center 

Hispanic Business Center 

Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation 

Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation 

Hospice of the Western Reserve 


ICA – Art Conservation 

Ideastream Public Media 

In Harmony Therapeutic Services 

India Festival USA 

Ingenuity Cleveland 

Inlet Dance Theatre 

International Community Council 

International Women’s Air & Space Museum 

Italian Cultural Garden Foundation 

Jennings Center for Older Adults 

JFSA Cleveland 

Jones Road Family Development Corporation 

Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center 

Karamu House 

Kulture Kids 


Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth 

Lake Erie Institute 

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center 


Lakewood Young Filmmakers Academy 

LAND studio 

Larchmere PorchFest 

LatinUs Theater Company 

Les Délices 

Lexington Bell Community Center 

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland 

Literary Cleveland 

Little Lumpy’s Center for Educational Initiatives 

Local 4 Music Fund 



Maelstrom Collaborative Arts 

Malachi Center

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage 

Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland 

May Dugan Center 

MidTown Cleveland, Inc 

Mojuba Dance Collective 

Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation 


Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland 

Music and Art at Trinity Cathedral 

Naach Di Cleveland 

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes 

Near West Theatre 

NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology 

North Coast Men’s Chorus 

North Union Farmers Market 

Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless 

Notes for Notes 

Notre Dame College 


OCA Greater Cleveland – Asian Pacific American Advocates 

Open Doors Academy 

Open Tone Music 

P.A.L.S. for Healing 

Parma Area Fine Arts Council 

Piano Cleveland 

Playhouse Square 

Playwrights Local 

Polish American Cultural Center 

Polish Village Parma 

Quire Cleveland 

Rainey Institute 

Reaching Heights 

Renovare Music 

Restore Cleveland Hope 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 

Roots of American Music 


Sankofa Fine Art Plus 

Shaker Historical Society 

Singing Angels 

Slavic Village Development 

Slovenian Museum and Archives 

SOS  Strengthening Our Students 


Stellar Acrobatic Dance Academy 

Suburban Symphony Orchestra 

Talespinner Children’s Theatre 

Tender Hearts Crusades 

The City Club of Cleveland 

The Cleveland Opera, Inc. 

The Cleveland Orchestra 

The Gathering Place 

The Harvard Square Center 

The Movement Project 

The Music Settlement 

The Musical Theater Project 

The Roberto Ocasio Foundation 

The Sculpture Center 

Thea Bowman Center 

Trobár Medieval 


Ukrainian Museum-Archives 

University Circle Inc. 

University Hospitals 

Ursuline College 

Valley Art Center 

Verb Ballets 

VIVA Bavaria 

Wake Up and Live’s Actor’s Studio 

Waterloo Arts 

West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development 

West Shore Chorale 

West Side Catholic Center 

West Side Community House 

Western Reserve Chorale 

Western Reserve Fire Museum & Education Center 

Western Reserve Historical Society 

Western Reserve Land Conservancy 

Westlake Chinese School 

Westown Community Development Corporation 

Windsong, Cleveland’s Feminist Chorus 

Women in History 

Youth Challenge 

Zygote Press