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Press Release: Heights Arts Advocates for the Future of Coventry PEACE Campus amid Lease Uncertainty


Lydia Mandell



Heights Arts Advocates for the Future of Coventry PEACE Campus amid Lease Uncertainty

Nonprofit arts organizations face potential displacement, threatening the creative vitality of the Heights area.


Cleveland Heights, OH: Heights Arts is deeply concerned about what seems to be a deteriorating situation with the Coventry PEACE Campus. This is a shame because so many aspects of that project are so good for our arts scene and for our community more broadly. The building is home to a number of nonprofit organizations such as Lake Erie Ink and FutureHeights that have long been (and we would hope should long continue to be) based in the Heights, and thanks to the efforts of Artful the facility remains the only place in the heights area where artists can rent studio space in a communal environment among other artists. It’s living up to an inspiring vision, and it is hard to imagine a more suitable re-use for such a building. This kind of creative and mission-driven activity is vital to the future thriving of the Heights area because it leverages some of our great competitive advantages: we are a diverse, educated, committed, and creative community that is tapped into the world-class riches of University Circle and offers lovely neighborhoods in which to live, work, and play. But what does it mean to say we are “home to the arts” if we can’t find a way to provide affordable studio space for working artists or suitable offices for local nonprofits that drive the arts?


Says Heights Arts Board of Trustees president Steve Presser, “As a Coventry business owner for nearly 30 years, an active Special Improvement District (SID) board member for nearly 25 years, and a 42-year resident of Coventry Village, I know first-hand the importance of the present variety of nonprofit tenants in the Coventry PEACE building. Losing these wonderful organizations would most certainly negatively impact the vitality of the Coventry commercial district, which needs boosting these days, and also would have a deleterious effect on the surrounding apartments, condos, and homes.”


We do not claim to know the factors that may be driving the recent actions of the library board to shorten and modify lease terms to the point where few of the tenants would find remaining in the building a viable option, but we do know that the vibrant creative activity that’s been happening at the former Coventry School over the past decade-plus is of great value to our community and should not be viewed as expendable. If the library leadership has come to the conclusion that their organization does not wish to be in the landlord business (which may be a perfectly reasonable conclusion), then other options should be explored that would allow the Coventry PEACE Campus to continue as a nexus for nonprofit activity and a valued resource for artists and audiences.


Heights Arts Executive Director Rachel Bernstein concludes: “Heights Arts is committed to nurturing a fertile environment for artists, musicians, writers, and all their audiences here in our community, and we feel that the Coventry PEACE Campus has filled a very important role in that regard while also hosting numerous nonprofit organizations. We advocate exploring any scenarios that would ensure the continued use of the facility as a Cleveland Heights-based hub for nonprofits and the arts.”

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Founded in 2000, Heights Arts (www.heightsarts.org) is a nonprofit, multi-disciplinary arts organization whose mission is to cultivate a strong, diverse, and collaborative arts community by inspiring people of all ages to engage in the arts; supporting the arts through education; providing exhibition and performance opportunities; and fostering public appreciation for the arts.


Heights Arts is generously supported by funding from individuals, businesses, and organizations, including: The AHS Foundation, Jean, Harry, and Brenda Fuchs Family Foundation, Thomas Hoyt and Katherine Brooks Jones Family Foundation, The Arthur E, Elsie G, and Betty M Kranz Family Foundation, WWMR Foundation, Peggy and John Garson Family Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, The City of Cleveland Heights, The City of University Heights, Ohio Arts Council, and the Mandel Foundation.


2175 Lee Road   ∙   Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118  ∙  216.371.3457  ∙   www.heightsarts.org



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