Giving Compass' Take:

• Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood is leaning into art in many forms to build community.

• How can your community come together through art? Where is art already engaging your community? 

• Learn about arts-based community development


One of Cleveland’s most culturally relevant neighborhoods is experiencing a resurgence of art through efforts to revitalize the community.

Fairfax has made a significant impact on art and culture both locally and nationally. From Karamu House—America’s oldest black theatrical institution—to the recent addition of green spaces with an artistic flair, the community is gathering around a central idea: Art is important.

In the midst of a new housing development called Innovation Square, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp.is carving out space for public art. A turnkey part of that development is a centralized green space called Playwright Park, meant to pay homage to Karamu House.

Playwright Park, which sits between East 101st and East 103rd streets near Quebec Avenue, is nearly ready to unveil.

Aseelah Shareef, director of operations and community engagement for Karamu House, echoes Turner’s concerns about youth and their connection with art: “I think it [art] is important because I don't think you have a full life without art. … Some of our youth are missing that artistic part that connects them to the world and to who they are as a human.”

Art has been a major part of the neighborhood, says Denise VanLeer, executive director of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. From Liberty Hill Baptist Church with its performing arts theater and others with their deep connections to music to Karamu and its storied cultural past, art has been an intrinsic aspect of life in Fairfax.

Read the full article about building community through art at Fresh Water.