“Arts and culture can expand your life. Every adult and every child should have the opportunity to be exposed to that as much as they can. That’s what drives me.”
— STEVEN A. MINTER
Steven A. Minter has been connected to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture from the very beginning, when, as the outgoing executive director of the Cleveland Foundation, he gave his time to the community effort to find a dedicated public funding source for arts and culture. But his love for the arts was inspired by his parents, who listened to opera at home and encouraged him to take violin and saxophone lessons, despite their modest means. That early exposure led him to watch performances at Karamu House and to participate in Berea Summer Theater as a college student.
“Those experiences made me who I am today, and those are the things I have tried to support in my life,” Steve says. “That’s what drives me.”
Steve channeled his support for arts and culture into a decade-long stint on CAC’s Board of Trustees, serving at its first president. Reflecting upon CAC’s first 10 years, he points to three critical decisions that have helped the public agency have a significant and lasting impact on CAC’s grant recipients and the community. First, the decision to align with the Ohio Cultural Data Project (now DataArts) meant CAC’s cultural partners would submit data to be able to quantify impact of CAC’s work. Second, the decision to have independent panelists from outside the region review grant applications in public made the awards process as transparent and apolitical as possible. Finally, the continued growth of project support to reflect CAC’s definition of arts and culture to include community-based events, such as street fairs, continues to bring more relevant experiences to Cuyahoga County residents.
Steve says the most critical work for CAC started during the 2015 levy renewal and continues today – and that’s the work of distributing the funds more equitably. “We’ve really pushed our values related to equity and diversity and the need for CAC and its cultural partners to get out into the county,” he said. “We’ve recognized that equity means that we’ve got to work harder with some groups of individuals and families, and we’ve realized that some ethnic groups may have a different sense of what they consider to be arts and culture. These are important issues, and we’re trying to address them.”
CAC is grateful for Steve’s visionary leadership and thanks him for his ongoing commitment to Cuyahoga County’s residents, artists and arts & culture institutions.
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