Do-Gooder Series: Artful Cleveland

Cleveland is filled with purpose-driven nonprofit organizations and passionate changemakers. We find that inspiring, and we're happy to bring to you our monthly Do-Gooder Series, aimed at connecting you to the causes that make our hearts skip a beat. Support them by purchasing craft cocktails and beer at The Flea Bar, or by donating directly via their own websites. Often times, they'll even have a presence at our events, so don't be shy — let them know you're happy they're here doing good.

Shannon Morris, Executive Director of ARTFUL Cleveland, makes one thing known: Cleveland's artist communities benefit more than just artists. With a mission to create active creative spaces and locations for the community and artists to regularly engage with each other, on top of opening a new studio space in the old Coventry School Building, ARTFUL has already made it's bold mark on the Cleveland Heights area. Read on to learn a bit more about how one local non-profit is creating a better, more beautiful city for all of us.

Cleveland Flea: Who is ARTFUL Cleveland?
Shannon Morris: ARTFUL is small 501(c)3 nonprofit organiztion. We are on a mission to establish and nurture affordable space that supports and educates artists in their mission to create, sell and display their art while making creativity and inspiration more accessible to the community at large. 

CF: What’s the significance of the name, ‘ARTFUL Cleveland’?
 SM: I have always been fond of the word ARTFUL. When I began work on this project I immediately went crazy over all the possible ways to play with it, and it stuck. For instance our family friendly events are referred to as -playFUL,  blog posts featuring influential people in arts education are titled -meaningFUL, and skillFUL is what we call our practical programming for artists. It is endless!

CF: What’s your role at ARTFUL Cleveland?
SM: I am the Founding Executive Director, A job that has been challenging and enlightening every day!

CF: What would you like people to know about ARTFUL Cleveland that they might not?
SM: We believe that the creative spirit is something that needs to be nourished in all people. It is above all else a way to express oneself whether you are professional or not. So I guess what I am trying to say is that we stand for art not just artists.  

CF: So, why do you think this is important to the Cleveland community?
SM: We have an abundance of artists in Cleveland. We want them to stay here, raise families here, and contribute to the health of our beautiful city while respecting the value of what they do.  The first part is to give them an affordable place to work, and the second is to foster partnerships and relationships that give artists opportunities to be successFul (see I did it again) and teach them valuable skills (or useFUL skills, sorry I can’t help it:)

ARTFUL's new studio space in The Coventry School

ARTFUL's new studio space in The Coventry School

CF: Why do you love your job?
SM:I really love meeting all the artists, and learning about all the people and groups that are already working hard to keep the art scene afloat.  I feel really lucky that I can be a part of it. 

CF: Can you share a moment at ARTFUL Cleveland that really had an impact on you? 
CF: There have been so many awesome moments, but the one that sticks out is the first brainstorming meeting we had. It became crystal clear that the need for ARTFUL was great and that is the moment that keeps me going.