Friday, March 19, 2010

Saving Cleveland, Part 5

This next episode from ReasonTV is pretty self-explanatory. It explains how Cleveland's public works pump-priming (i.e., new stadiums to benefit rich owners, etc.) has actually done little to revitalize the city. A better business environment, lower taxes, and less arrogant public employee unions would help more. However, they don't mention some of the city and/or grassroots arts initiatives I've seen working in Cleveland which provide this decaying city with an astonishingly rich arts environment. That, in turn, often helps revitalize areas and neighborhoods in a more permanant way.

The restoration of Cleveland's fantastic Playhouse Square several years ago was one such arts effort. These beautiful old theaters are now home to local and traveling plays, musicals, etc., and their restored environments are a wonderful attraction. Ditto the fantastic Cleveland Orchestra. While themselves in some financial difficulty due to the economy, the orchestra's home, venerable Severance Hall, has been fantastically restored to its Egyptian Deco brilliance, and a much, much needed parking facility was added largely underground.

In smaller ways, other parts of the city are slowly revived by these small, targeted, and sometimes even informal arts efforts. The once-decayed Tremont neighborhood is one. It's now a wonderful enclave of funky art shops, quirky first-rate restaurants, and colorful buildings, not to mention the Christmas Story House for you cult movie fans. (Yep, the film took place in a fictional Indiana, but much of it was filmed right in Tremont).

I also noted a quickly developing arts community that's blossoming in a moderately blighted West Side neighborhood, roughly at West 65th and Detroit. It's encouraging. But the town is so down on its luck that, in the end, such ad hoc arrangements just don't solve the problem.

In any event, I did want our readers to know that, this video aside (and it is a good explication of the issue), some efforts in Cleveland have been successful in revitalizing small pockets here and there. But with enormous taxes, political corruption, etc., it is just not enough in the end.

No comments: