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Artist co-op is strengthening Cleveland Heights through creativity

Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 16:54:42-05

CLEVELAND — As News 5 continues its commitment to highlighting individuals and organizations making Northeast Ohio A Better Land, we visited an artist co-op trying to position itself for the future despite the pandemic, while tapping into the creative spirit to help strengthen neighborhoods.

"We have more artists living in and near Cleveland Heights than almost any other community in Ohio," said Deanna Bremer Fisher, Future Heights.

The Coventry PEACE Campus, a community art center, opened inside an old elementary school in 2011.

"PEACE stands for People Enhancing A Community's Environment," said Bremer Fisher.

Celeste Cosentino's Ensemble Theatre was the first tenant to move in.

"We like to do socially conscious work,” said Cosentino.

It's not uncommon for the performances here to reflect issues happening outside the walls of the building.

Cosentino said they "try to bring in an array of diverse voices in terms of the plays that we choose. So, it really does create a platform to endorse and move those conversations forward."

In addition to the theater, Artful, located on the second floor, provides studio space for two dozen artists.

"To just see all the kind of civic and community-based programming coming out of this building into the community is wonderful," said Cosentino.

The Coventry Peace Campus is working to financially secure its future by kicking off a $100,000 for 100 years campaign to lock in a long-term lease and renovate.

"It was built for young children, and so there are features such as our bathrooms that were built for little folks, and now we have the general public coming in, so we need to do those types of renovations,” said Bremer Fisher.

Cosentino said much like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the investment in this campus can pay off big.

"What that organization did for University Circle, I feel like this corner can be a big key in the identity of this neighborhood,” said Cosentino.

The project is using the arts to strengthen the Coventry business district while offering a creative outlet for decades to come.

"We're really excited we have an opportunity to get a 99-year lease and to have that security to continue to move forward after the pandemic,” said Shannon Morris, Artful founder.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.