How is Cleveland

Cultural promotionBack to life in Cleveland

Alan Freed's announcements were unmistakable. And so was his instinct for popular music.

"Hello everybody. Hi on the night. This is Alan Freed, the old king of the Moondoggers. And it is time again for another of your favorite Rock 'n' Roll such as Blues and Rhythm records."

Freed was a radio disc jockey, worked in Cleveland in the 1950s and coincidentally invented a legendary term: "Rock 'n' Roll". The word for that musical mix of rhythm & blues that began to inspire young people in the metropolises at that time.

This word creation is still associated with the city today. Because on the shores of Lake Erie there is an architecturally unusual glass building - designed by the architect I. M. Pei - which documents the entire history of the music genre: the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. For a while, however, the building looked rather lost in this city that was economically and socially steadily on its way to the bottom.

As in other once flourishing centers of the so-called "Rust Belt" in the northeast of the United States, deindustrialization and urban exodus threatened urban life. The numbers speak for themselves. In Freed's day, Cleveland was home to around a million people. Today there are fewer than 400,000.

Promotion of culture on a metropolitan level

Those who stayed have been struggling to survive since the decline of the factories and steelworks. But you are also fighting for a cultural identity. However, unlike in St. Louis or Detroit - two of the most broken metropolises in the western world - there was an effective remedy in Cleveland. A real catalyst: culture, says Steven Litt, longtime culture and architecture critic for Plain Dealer, Cleveland's influential newspaper:

"Art and culture played an important role in the turnaround. Young people are moving into certain neighborhoods and opening galleries or shops and restaurants. But we also have audiences that are very interested in art and culture."

Boom. Comeback. Anyone who wandered through the city center ten years ago would not have felt much of it. Despite the Rock 'n' Hall of Fame, which was inaugurated in 1995. And despite the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the most important symphony orchestras in the United States, which has played in Severance Hall since the 1930s. But since then the efforts have intensified and produced successes. Much of it is distinctive. In the center of the city, for example, the large theater complex called Playhouse Square from the twenties was revitalized and revitalized. The nine houses, which distinguish themselves from one another as much as possible in their repertoire, come to one million visitors per year. Their offering rivals any other major city in the United States.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Cleveland, Ohio (Deutschlanradio / J├╝rgen Kalwa)

The visual arts were also an important factor in the reanimation of the city, whose economy is now shaped by large hospitals as well as companies in the medical device industry and educational institutions. The Cleveland Museum of Art, for example, opened a large, light-flooded annex at the end of 2012, which very carefully handled an existing annex designed by Marcel Breuer. At the same time, the new Museum of Contemporary Art was being completed - just a kilometer away. The renovation of a large, old factory building just a few meters away on Euclid Avenue, an important thoroughfare, is almost complete. Cars and later tanks were built there. The art college will soon be moving in here - the Cleveland Institute of Art. Which is good, because you are bursting at the seams at the old location. Director Grafton Nunes, who took up his post only a few years ago, is delighted with the development, which signals something of a trend reversal for the city.

Cigarettes: A special surcharge

"There are more and more people coming from New York. Why? First: You live cheaper here. Second: There are a lot of artists here who use the available space. To live and work. In well-lit studios."

The milieu is also so stimulating because, unlike in almost all larger cities in America, there is, for once, the political will to consciously support art and culture with the help of state subsidies. Cleveland does have patrons interested in culture. Which is why the Museum of Art, for example, with an endowment capital of 600 million dollars, is one of the wealthiest museums in the world and does not require any visitor to enter even a cent.

But it also has a special additional tax on cigarettes: smokers promote the cultural scene with their addiction. And since 2008. The levy brings in around $ 13 million per year. Karen Gahl-Mills of the Cuyahoga Arts Council who distributes the money:

"We were only able to spend 64 cents per capita before. That was lower than anywhere else in the country. Now it is more than $ 13 per capita. The money goes to the Cleveland Orchestra and the Hall of Fame, but also one Lots of other things that make up our cultural ecosystem. "

Steven Litt is proud of the scope of the funding:

"We do as much as San Francisco, but a lot more than Chicago or Boston. Little Cleveland measures up to the big ones in this area."

However, voters will vote again on the cigarette tax in two years. Steven Litt knows how tricky this is. Because without the support, many would be in the red. Cleveland isn't over the hill yet.