“I studied what art has done in similar cities and how they use art to transform communities with blight and violent crime. I wanted to see how art could make a difference here, and we’re already seeing it in our community.”
— RAHIM BASIT
Rahim Basit has had an affinity for the arts since he can remember. Drawing, design, fashion — he was inspired by them all, but studied business and psychology in college. After he graduated, Rahim started looking for careers that could use his management training around creative people.
Today Rahim’s work focuses on exposing East Cleveland residents to arts experiences that will inspire them to invest in their communities and connect with each other. He works with two organizations funded by CAC — Anansi Artists Alliance and Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival — helping with event planning and grassroots marketing. Also a CAC volunteer, Rahim raises awareness and connects with area residents at CAC-supported programs and events.
The Anansi Artists Alliance advocates for African American artists and the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival showcases new and established African American filmmakers. Both missions are close to Rahim’s heart and speak to the power of arts to build up communities.
“When your neighborhood looks good and has activities, residents tend to want to get involved and be part of what’s going on, “ Rahim says. “That’s what pushes me to try to get art going in certain areas so we can have people wanting to take care of their community.”
Last year, The Anansi Artists Alliance organized a free jazz concert, art show and lecture at the East Cleveland Public Library. “It got a lot of people involved and excited about the kind of events that could happen in their community,” he said. “We didn’t have money on our own, but being able to go to Neighborhood Connections and CAC to get behind our ideas helps a lot.”
CAC funding has made a significant impact on the stability and growth of the Cleveland School of the Arts and its annual Festival of New Works. The event has transformed from a special project brought to life in after-school and weekend hours, to a fully embedded part of the daily arts and academic curriculum. Support for the Festival has built a dynamic incubator of student ideas, a central hub for relationships with local artists, and a true celebration of the arts in our community.
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