Cleveland Public Theatre is the home to bold new work, up-and-coming artists, shows that push boundaries and work that warrants further exploration. We educate, nurture and change lives. From helping artists who need a space to get their first performance up on its feet to launching regional and US premieres, we continually push productions that will inspire, awaken and provoke.
We take seriously our role as a “public theatre” and provide experiences that speak to many constituencies. Our participants are economically, geographically and ethnically diverse. We believe this diversity stems from our commitment to hiring creators from a wide range of backgrounds. As to our audiences, CPT boasts above-market penetration of individuals who live in the urban core, and an estimated 40% of CPT’s audience is under 40.
In 2011, we were one of just 5 theatres nationwide to receive the 50/50 Award from the International Center for Women Playwrights (ICWP), which recognizes theatres that produce work by female playwrights at least 50% of the time. In 2014, Cleveland Public Theatre was among an encouraging 67 recipients from 9 countries worldwide to receive the designation. We are proud to have been among the leaders in the field who are “walking the talk” of gender equity, and we have continued to serve women artists through our programming and new work development programs. In the 2013-2014 season, 81% of the plays we produced were by female creators (compared to the national average of 18%). According to Elana Gartner, co-chair of the ICWP award, “[The 50/50 Award] has started a conversation, and that’s encouraging. But it’s an important thing for the field and industry that theatre companies don’t let the conversation go.”
CPT has built a reputation on producing and presenting new work that consistently represents a range of styles that are not typically produced at most theatres in the region. And this aesthetic diversity extends to how plays are made. While our season often includes some conventionally-created work—plays written by a single playwright in advance of rehearsals—much of our core work is developed collaboratively by an ensemble of creative and performing artists. Ensemble-devised work includes many different kinds of processes and this work delivers finished performances in a wide variety of styles.
Our experience with ensemble-based devising caught the attention of the National New Play Network, an alliance of non-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays. In 2014, Cleveland Public Theatre was made a “core member” of the NNPN, and we look forward to collaborating with our partners in the evolving conversation around devised approaches to theatre-making, and supporting artists who work in this way.
Our programming appeals to a broad constituency. We produce shows that speak to issues of social justice, cultural identity, race, gender and sexual preference. We enlist the participation of community leaders on committees and panels to share viewpoints on topics addressed in productions such as law enforcement, racism and transgender bias. Our programming reaffirms our commitment to representing onstage the multiplicity of perspectives and rich diversity of our community and the greater world. Our seasons feature work by playwrights from a range of ethnic backgrounds, with world premieres in recent seasons by playwrights of Asian-American, Latino, or African-American descent. In addition, CPT’s low ticket prices ensure that our programs are accessible to all economic groups and younger patrons.
Through our decades-long experience of educating youth and adults, we can affirm what so many studies have shown to be true: arts programs develop positive social skills, promote learning and build job- related training, all of which contribute to long-term growth and achievement. According to a 2002 study by the NGA Center for Best Practices entitled The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce Preparation, at-risk youth is the segment of society most likely to suffer from limited lifetime productivity and low economic self-sufficiency. The study further notes, however, that the arts can have a positive impact on at-risk youth, contributing to lowered recidivism rates, increased self-esteem, the acquisition of job skills, and the development of much needed creative thinking, problem solving, and communications skills. Echoing these findings, recent studies supported by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice confirm that youth who participate in arts programs exhibit decreased frequency of delinquent behaviors, increased pro-social behaviors, and improved attitudes towards school and self. It is clear that arts engagement delivers important benefits to young people, and we are proud of our commitment to youth development through theatre education.
As a founder of the Gordon Square Arts District, we have catalyzed exponential growth in our neighborhood. As an investor in Cleveland Public Theatre, you become part of this collaborative community. The GSAD has received national recognition for its innovative public-private partnership that has revitalized a historically blighted urban area. Since the formation of the GSAD in 2007, 75+ new businesses have opened in our neighborhood, creating jobs and stimulating private sector investment, as well as drawing other culture-oriented businesses, restaurants, and new housing construction. In fall 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Creative Placemaking publication commended the Gordon Square Arts District for its work to achieve neighborhood-wide goals and increase economic development.
At CPT we are so grateful to those who believe in our mission, advocate for our work in the community and generously share their time and resources by attending performances and donating to our annual campaign.
Click here to visit our Support page to learn more about how you can join our family of supporters.