Artist Spotlight – Our New Residents!

North Shore Collinwood’s not just a place where creative people come to live … It’s where they come to make a difference. That attitude and energy has only grown in the past few years, as our Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising programs have spilled $1.1 million in artist support into the neighborhood.

That range of artist services, together with our extraordinary housing stock, lakefront parks and already stellar arts community is bringing in a new wave of artist homeowners … artists who are already rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.

Take Maura Rogers, for example. Maura is a local performance artist and musician who grew up in Wickliffe and heads the band Maura Rogers and the Bellows. One of her favorite venues is the Beachland Ballroom, and when she was looking for a new home, North Shore Collinwood quickly took top billing.

“I was living in University Heights,” she shares, “and my partner and I were looking at either renting or buying. We wanted an area that had some promise with the arts and with music. We found out about Northeast Shores … and the projects that they were doing. There’s just such a strong investment in rebuilding and bringing life into this community.”

“With the Waterloo revival that’s coming on, with the restaurants and all of the energy that’s going into the Beachland … Those are things I think that create an artist community.”

Buddy Akita was also drawn to the creative pulse of Waterloo. Buddy is a prolific local musician, balancing his talent across three different bands. When his group Short Rabbits performs on March 29th at the Beachland, he’ll be just a few blocks away from the new fully-rehabbed home he recently purchased.

That proximity to the Beachland is just one of the many neighborhood assets that Buddy has found in North Shore Collinwood, a neighborhood where his wife, musician Christina Akita, grew up and where the couple remains close to family.

“I like the diversity of the neighborhood,” he shares. “It’s obvious that it’s up and coming. There’s a lot of things developing around here.”

He credits homeowner training he received through Northeast Shores’ and CPAC’s partner Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland as a major driver for his relocation decision. If it weren’t for the training, Buddy explains, he “probably would have never even looked at [homeownership], honestly. I would recommend the program to just about anybody because it was really informative.”

Of course, not every artist we talk to in North Shore Collinwood ends up buying a house here … But that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to help them! Writer Keisha Davenport and her husband, visual artist Chester Hopkins-Bey, were drawn to North Shore Collinwood by the thought of being in the midst of so many creatives.

“It’s a nice neighborhood,” explains Keisha, “and I think that all of those programs are great in terms of funding artists and helping artists find a location that suits them.”

When Keisha and Chester’s personal circumstances led them to the conclusion that North Shore Collinwood wasn’t the right fit, Northeast Shores teamed up with neighborhood artist and realtor Ken Janssen to continue to provide them service. Ultimately, Ken’s assistance led the artist couple to find a new home in Cleveland’s Brooklyn neighborhood.

For poet and writer Ellen Marshall, however, North Shore Collinwood quickly became the neighborhood of choice. Ellen was yet another artist that was attracted to the neighborhood by offerings of Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising.

“I said even if I don’t take advantage of it,” explains Ellen, “I want to be in the area. I would definitely take advantage of all of the [artist support] programs if you can.”

It wasn’t just the loans and grants that drew her in, however … It was the community fabric itself. Ellen relocated from Louisiana to Cleveland in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In walking through North Shore Collinwood, she knew she had found her community and led her to a recent purchase of one of our $6,500 houses.

“It just felt like home for me … older trees, settled couples … I would feel comfortable walking down the street any time of the day.”

Maura, Buddy, Christina, Ellen, Keisha and Chester are just a few of the more than 200 artists touched by the Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising initiatives over the past two years. But our work doesn’t end there. We continue to work with artists to help them find affordable commercial and residential space in North Shore Collinwood … and to link them up to other local resources even when North Shore Collinwood doesn’t end up being home.

To find out how you can join our growing artist community, give us a call at 216.481.7660, or drop us a line at sbeattie@northeastshores.org.