Art Departments Collaborate with Gordon Square Arts District

Nancy Roane, Staff Writer

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Oberlin College’s departments of Theater, Art and Dance are collaborating with the Gordon Square Arts District located in Cleveland’s west side. Oberlin students will soon have the opportunity to get involved in art exhibitions, Winter Term projects and other artistic programs from the neighboring city of Cleveland.

The Gordon Square Arts District is an initiative that has worked since 2006 to bring economic and artistic development to an area in Cleveland previously in decay. The three founding partners of GSAD are Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. With the goal of sparking economic development and job creation, the GSAD works to bring arts and nonprofit organizations, new businesses, restaurants and housing to create a downtown around the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of the west side of Cleveland. The GSAD is working to saturate the community with over $500 million to help in economic development. Already, they have added extra parking and other streetscape improvements (wider sidewalks, street lights, trees) to accommodate more visitors. Also, they have constructed, restored and renovated three separate theaters in the area. With an Oberlin partnership, GSAD hopes to raise its profile as a regional arts district and further its efforts.

The partnership will kick off with a gala in Cleveland on Saturday, Oct. 15, which will feature student artwork. The artwork will be on display and for sale for a period of time after the gala, and all proceeds will go back to the student artists. Professor Johnny Coleman, co-chair of the Art department, plans to have a student exhibition in a Cleveland venue annually.

College President Marvin Krislov said in an e-mail, “The partnership between GSAD and Oberlin is ultimately intended to benefit the students. The main goals of the partnership are (a) to create experiences through which our students are able to work in collaboration with professional venues/companies (such as Cleveland Public Theater) and (b) to better integrate the vibrant arts community of the greater Cleveland area into the Oberlin experience.”

Furthermore, Oberlin College is developing a pilot project in which students of different arts disciplines will have the opportunity to participate in an intensive semester of study partnered with the Cleveland Public Theatre that will conclude with a full-length, CPT-produced Winter Term project. Plans are developing for Associate Professor of Theater Professor Matthew Wright to direct a play co-produced by Oberlin and the CPT in April 2012. The play, Iphigenia 2.0, written by Charles Mee, is a modern day re-imagining of Euripides’s Greek tragedy Iphigenia in Aulis and would feature both professional and student actors.

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