Arts & Community Research

I recently presented my community research project on the University Circle Neighborhood in Cleveland, OH at the May Environmental Professionals Network event. For the past few months, I have been researching this community’s assets and power structure as part of my Asset Based Community Development Class. I focused on studying the arts and cultural programming in the area and how that community asset has led to neighborhood growth and development. I really loved the opportunity to combine my passions of arts and community development through this project and further validate why arts are so important to the growth and sustainability of a community.

I grew up going to school at Cleveland School of the Arts which is located in the University Circle Neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. This neighborhood, also known as the Circle, is touted as one of the premier neighborhoods of the city and is home to world-class museums, prestigious universities, and leading medical institutions, University Circle has become a center for culture and education. This density of institutions within the neighborhood has put the University Circle in a unique space, as there are no comparable communities within the state of Ohio. I believed that based on this feature, University Circle had great potential for high cultural capital. However, this potential is also highly related to the community power structure and the networks between these many institutions. In this research project, I described the community’s capital stocks based on the Community Capital Framework and the power structure of University Circle in relation to cultural capital through the study of community events and arts-related programming.

I defined the community power structure present in the University Circle neighborhood as coalitional with some pyramidal features, and understanding the role and history of the community-based organization University Circle Incorporated (UCI) as a major actor in the development of cultural capital has been critical to studying this community’s cultural assets and power structure. I believe that this organization’s work will be essential in sustaining and improving the community assets of community events and arts/cultural programming.

Based on this current community power structure, I believe that the assets of community events and arts/cultural programming are in a very stable position and have the potential to be enhanced in the future. I believe that these assets can be further be developed along with the community’s initiative to create opportunities to engage with the surrounding neighborhoods. Current community events have already proven to be a successful way in building the community’s social capital and bridging the gap between neighborhoods. I believe that these assets can be further enhanced within the next two years.

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