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National Endowment for the Arts selects Cleveland Public Theatre for $150,000 Our Town grant award for "Station Hope 2016"

by Cathleen O'Malley
July 20, 2015
Cleveland Public Theatre
Gordon Square Theater
6415 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 631-2727
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program's fifth year of funding. Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $150,000 for Station Hope 2016. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

About Station Hope

Now in its third year, CPT's Station Hope is a free, multi-arts event that celebrates hope, Cleveland's Underground Railroad history and explores current day struggles for freedom and justice. Station Hope takes place at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church, the first authenticated Underground Railroad location in the city of Cleveland. St. John's Church (and the city of Cleveland, generally) was known as "Station Hope" to the freedom-seekers who sought refuge there, the final stop before crossing Lake Erie to freedom in Canada. In celebration of Cleveland's social justice heritage and the history of St. John's Church, Station Hope presents an evening of theatre, dance, poetry, music, puppetry and multi-media installations that explore Cleveland's Underground Railroad history and current day social justice issues, created by over 150 artists from across Northeast Ohio and performed in St. John's sanctuary, parish hall, basement and outdoor locations in and surrounding the historic site.

CPT first launched Station Hope in Cleveland's west side Hingetown neighborhood in April 2014, which was produced in partnership with St. John's Church, Ohio City Inc., Restore Cleveland Hope, the local housing authority, the City of Cleveland and over 25 arts groups and individual artists from the Northeast Ohio region. The one-night-only event was a huge success, attracting 2,000 community members from a wide range of economic and ethnic backgrounds. Over 30 sponsors supported the project, including The Cleveland Foundation, public/private/nonprofit sector organizations, 4 universities and colleges, and all 3 of Cleveland's major professional sports teams. In May of 2015, CPT produced the second annual event, which commenced with the official dedication of an Ohio State Underground Railroad Historical Marker on site at St. John's. The expanded footprint of Station Hope 2015 included 9 stages and additional performance venues in nearby buildings and surrounding outdoor lots, drawing over 2,000 new and returning guests from across the Northeast Ohio region.

With support of the NEA's Our Town grant, Station Hope 2016 will expand further to include a multi-neighborhood performance tour in April 2016 that will enhance connectivity between 4 burgeoning arts districts on Cleveland's west side, build community pride, nurture compassion for others and raise consciousness of key issues facing our community. Presented in partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and area Community Development Corporations (CDCs), four weeks of free pop-up performances in 4 west side Cleveland neighborhoods will culminate in the third annual Station Hope festival at the original site of St. John's Church, where audiences will experience an array of theatre, dance, music, and visual art all reflecting on the themes of freedom and equality.

"Cleveland Public Theatre demonstrates the best in creative community development," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike."

"We are honored to be among those selected for this prestigious award. It is a testament to CPT's success in building public/private sector partnerships and community trust, particularly through our collaboration with local Community Development Corporations. Through ambitious, community-driven programs such as Station Hope, CPT works to fulfill our mission of raising consciousness and nurturing compassion through the arts, and effecting authentic and lasting transformation in our community." – Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director, Cleveland Public Theatre

"Station Hope is a true gathering of community and demonstrates how transformative and powerful an arts experience can be, and its potential to change the fabric of our society." – Hon. Joe Cimperman, Ward 3 Councilman

"I applaud both Cleveland Public Theatre and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress for their long-term commitment to the community. These organizations have shown a dedication to spurring economic development through the arts, improving the quality of life for all Clevelanders as we continue to build our neighborhoods in Cleveland." – Hon. Frank G. Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA's online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

The Twitter hashtag for NEA's Our Town grant program is #NEAOurTown15. Find Cleveland Public Theatre on Twitter at @CPTCLE or follow Station Hope at #StationHopeCPT or at www.cptonline.org.
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