Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shore Cultural Centre And The Impact On Euclid

Shore Cultural Centre in Euclid is in need of help.  Myself and others have written the city to fight for a worthwhile cause.  I am a firm believer in fighting for what's right and fighting for communities that are in need.  Therefore, I am publicly sharing my letter that I have sent to the Mayor and the City Council in the City of Euclid.  I hope that everyone will read it and help in our valiant efforts to support a city, a building and a community that are worthy and in need.  I have also linked the City of Euclid's website so that if you so choose, can write them in support of Shore Cultural Centre and the positivity and vibrance that has occurred there.

My name is Joanna Longo and my fiancé, Matt Orgovan, and I have a studio at Shore Cultural Centre. I make bath and body products and cosmetics, Matt is an artistic painter and I teach soap making classes. We have been permanent residents of Shore since April of 2010.

We were given the opportunity by three different arts communities to open a store. While we decided to not open a store at this particular time we chose Shore Cultural Centre to be our home. We were impressed with the developments that we were told about occurring in Euclid. I was excited about the new Expo Center, the grant that Lincoln Electric received for a wind turbine, the development of the Lake area and the plans to redevelop the downtown area. Along with that, Shore was suggested as a place that was looking for artists and to build a community of culture. We were both impressed by Laura, the quality of tenants, and what we thought was the support of the city, so we jumped at the chance.

I am originally from Chardon but Euclid has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My doctor, as well as my sons’ doctor is in Euclid and my church is here. I used to come to the Euclid Square Mall all of the time when I was in high school. I moved to Euclid in 1999 and lived here until 2006. My eldest son went to Euclid schools and played in the Euclid Boys League and my youngest attended the Child Development Center on Wilmore. I have performed with Silhouette Productions and the adult troop of UpStage Players at Shore. In fact, if it wasn’t for UpStage and Shore, Matt and I would have never met. I have family and friends that still live in Euclid. Although I don’t currently live in the city, it has a place in my heart.

This brings me to why having a studio at Shore Cultural Centre and the City of Euclid is important to me. Even if you take away the sentimentality that most of the residents of Euclid have for the building itself, it is a unique and thriving community. It IS the Arts District for the City of Euclid. It is few and far between to find a building in Northeast Ohio that has so much to offer for arts and culture. It has one of the biggest stages for performances in an auditorium that is second to none. It has glorious rooms with high ceilings and windows for studios and classes, a culinary school, a day care, space for events and ample parking. It has residents inside who care about the well being and safety of others and work hard to ensure that for everyone who visits. It is centrally located in the heart of downtown which makes it easily accessible to the surrounding community as well as others in other communities.

Everyone knows that Euclid is a changing neighborhood socially and economically. From what I can see the socioeconomic levels have even changed in the four short years that I have moved away. Your more affluent residents have, and are moving away, leaving the city with less revenue and residents than it has had in the past. The city has had a recent stint of bad press due to crimes and other issues. As I can recall, some of the only good press the city has received lately has been about Shore. It was in an article on the front page of The News-Herald and a wonderful article on OhioAuthority.Com. Shore has had many events over the past year that has brought in visitors from outside communities that had never heard of Shore or wouldn’t have considered visiting Euclid. These events have ranged from plays, concerts, classes and a craft show called Cirque Imaginaire, which we participated in. Most of the visitors that attended were from the more affluent, artsy areas of the West Side. They marveled at the building itself and the studios, they inquired about spaces to rent and classes that were available that they couldn’t find anywhere else. As far as I know, it has even lead to another craft show already being booked for next year.

The arts are important for changing communities. Look what it has done for Waterloo, Gordon Square, Ohio City and Tremont, just to name a few. People flock from all over Northeast Ohio to these areas because they offer different independent stores, galleries, eateries, events, shows and more. Euclid is comprised of big box stores and food chains that can be found anywhere. It has a few local eateries and shops but is it enough to be a draw for people of other communities to come and visit all year round? I understand that Euclid isn’t as financially stable as it used to be, but why would you want to possibly destroy an entity that could be one of your best assets? Shore Cultural Centre has the possibility of being a combination of Willoughby Fine Arts and the Lake Erie Building all in one. Both of these places are some of the best assets to their communities and bring people in from all around.

I can only speak for myself that if Coral isn’t given a long term commitment from the city that I have no intention of staying. I cannot operate on three month or one year terms. I have worked hard to promote Shore and spread the word. Having a future that is unknown is something I cannot do. While I may complain about some of the things I see going on in Euclid, I DO love this city. Although, I would have to go to a community where my efforts, along with the efforts of others are appreciated and the value is recognized.

Please don’t take away the ONLY Arts District that Euclid has.

Thank you,

Joanna Longo