MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged:’ Central’s Foluke, 14 Other Arts Organizations Receive Equity In The Arts Funds From Cleveland Foundation, By By Grant Segall, Posted May 5th 2023

Foluke began in 1996 as a dance ministry at Lane Metropolitan CME church, near Central’s Friendly Inn Settlement. Now, it rents space from the Friendly Inn, a nonprofit community center and outreach organization. Foluke runs programs for children both on the weekend and after school on weekdays. According to its website, its mission is to “art as a weapon against poverty, racism, and discrimination” and “provide at-risk youth with life skills, discipline, resilience, and self-reliance.”

Boris Oicherman, who administers the arts equity fund, said in a press release that it “uplifts organizations that were historically under-supported by funders – and these predominantly are organizations led by people of color. It amplifies the diversity of Cleveland cultures and richness of creative practices.”

In an interview with The Land, Oicherman added that the fund seeks not to boost just the arts but whole communities. “Culture is embedded in every aspect of life. We should support culture because it supports everything else.”

The endowed fund is worth more than $4.3 million. It has given out nearly $9.6 million in its 30 years.

This year’s grantees also include Loiter, which runs a farm and market in East Cleveland for local produce, African clothing, fair trade chocolate, and other goods. Loiter’s leader, Ismail Samad, plans to use the grant to renovate a historic house and host fine artists, visual artists, and activists there.

Another grantee is the Museum of Creative Human Art. This institution without walls stages exhibits and teaches art in various sites around town. Co-founder Michael Russell says that imagination helps in all fields. “You can envision what your creativity can do in whatever lane you decide. You can come up with answers.”

At Foluke, operations manager Nicole Hatcher says Foluke is important because it provides not only access to the arts, but also to social and emotional learning. Many youngsters seldom socialize beyond school because of fears of crime and Covid-19, she said.

“Kids will come in frustrated. They haven’t had a chance to talk to anybody. They’re having all kinds of problems,” said Hatcher. “And they come to Foluke, and they get to put their hands on paper, make something, beat out the issues with the drums. They get to explore ways of showing their feelings at safe spaces.”

This year’s Equity in the Arts grantees and amounts are:

For more information on participating in arts activities at the organizations that received Equity in the Arts funds, click on the links above. In addition, for other arts enrichment activities at no or low cost to children, ACE reimbursement dollars may be available.

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