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. Over half the plays we produce each season are 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 are proud to be 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. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, Americans for the Arts, and others confirm that children in arts programs demonstrate gains in academic skills as well as interpersonal skills. These skills include appropriate expression of anger, effective communication, increased ability to cooperate with adults and peers, and task completion. For teens, arts programs offer safe, engaging, and constructive environments for young people who lack adult supervision during non-school hours, when they are most vulnerable to community violence and gang recruitment. For these youth to challenge negative influences and circumstances, discover their own strengths and talents, and become invested in their communities, they need caring mentors and engaging afterschool activities.
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.