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In an effort to continuously revitalize and develop cities in the Midwest,investing in local creativity through artist fellowship programs is an increasingly popular trend. One of these fellowship programs has pulled experts from across the nation, including a number of Detroit professional artists, to help select who will receive their fellowship awards. This year, Detroit natives Rebecca Mazzei and Marcus White served on a panel for the Creative Workforce Fellowship, a grant program that provides $15,000 awards for 40 artists living in greater Cleveland, Ohio.

To date, local Fellowship programs have popped up in such cities as Cleveland (Community Partnership for Arts and Culture-CPAC), Detroit (Kresge Arts in Detroit), and St. Louis (Regional Arts Commission). These programs have collectively contributed millions of dollars to artists with the understanding that they are key drivers of growth and development in their respective regions; a message Detroit has championed for years through efforts including ArtX Detroit and DC3. In the early stages of their programs, in 2010, Kresge Arts and CPAC pooled their knowledge about running substantive grant programs for artists. Both are still thriving as new communities invest in their own creative professionals.

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Each program is slightly different and tailored to its local context. The primary through-line is that artists receive substantial funding to research, develop and promote their work; funding is not tied to a project. As Detroit is well known for supporting its artist communities, along with its connections with Cleveland, it was an obvious choice for finding talent to adjudicate Cleveland’s Creative Workforce Fellowships.

Recently, Detroit natives Rebecca Mazzei and Marcus White, served on a panel to select Creative Workforce Fellowship recipients. 40 Cleveland-area artists received a total of $600,000.

Arguably, the most unique aspect of CPAC’s program is its source of funding. CPAC receives a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture made possible by the residents of Cuyahoga County to support the program. As recipients of public dollars, Fellowship participants will connect directly to community members through public events or other activities in 2016.

To support transparency in how the grants are selected, the second round review was conducted publicly via webinar, and recordings are available on CPAC’s website.

“There are many paraarts 3llels between the work coming out of Cleveland and Detroit, particularly as they relate to public benefit, an important criterion in CPAC’s program,” says Rebecca Mazzei, co-owner of Trinosophes, an independent art space located in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market. “We have a similar dialogue about how artists can invest in the public dialogue without loosing the expertise and nuances of the art itself. I think the artists that were selected reflect both the quality and innovation we pride ourselves on as a region along with a clear intention around how the public funds would be used.”

“CPAC was very excited to continue building relationships with Detroit’s artist community, especially since they can so closely relate to dialogue in Cleveland,” says Valerie Schumacher, Director of Artist Services, CPAC, “It’s a lot of work for panelists. The 40 artists who were selected reflect the expertise and perspectives that these artists brought to the scoring criteria and bring to Detroit everyday. The Fellowships recognize highly skilled, innovative artists that make very clear contributions to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.”

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For more information on the popular fellowship trend, or to arrange interviews with the Detroit panelists for the Creative Workforce Fellowship program, or the CPAC team, please contact Becki Silverstein at Becki@rebeccaadele.com or via phone at 440-227-8794. Hi-res photography is also available upon request.

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