Cleveland Public THeatre Education

Celebrating The Artist in all of us

About CPt's Education Programs

Education is a core aspect of Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission. We believe art can change lives and that everyone is an artist. Throughout our history, we have offered unique education programs that celebrate the artist within all of us.

Based on CPT’s guiding education principles of Empowerment, Equity, Excellence, and Enthusiasm, CPT’s Teaching Artists work to build close, long-term relationships with participants, families, and community partners by facilitating trust and open exchange. Our education programming seeks to create, for participants and teachers alike, a reciprocal collaborative learning environment that supports awareness and fosters powerful and life-affirming art experiences.

Studies consistently find that arts programs are highly effective when they engage students in “Out of School Time,” in small-class settings with long-term experiences, that culminate in completed projects. CPT’s education programs were conceived on these best practices, and the results are impressive. We are proud to be a leader in the arts and education community, offering powerful, meaningful experiences for adults and children.

CPT education programs follow four guiding principles that reflect our pedagogical, political, and aesthetic approach to education, and are deeply interrelated:


Together we create original works of theatre and our participants contribute to the spoken words, the movement, and the production elements. This layered approach engages participants dynamically, resulting in pride and ownership of the final product.


We strive to bridge the gap between the heard and the unheard by centering rarely shared stories with a wider audience. Our work brings awareness to issues such as racial and economic justice, nurturing relationships that cross the invisible boundaries of race and class. We believe representation matters, and we are committed to engaging Teaching Artists who are reflective of the communities with whom we collaborate.


We encourage the development of the whole artist, nurturing an artist’s personal, interpersonal, and artistic growth. This environment of pursuing consistent growth calls participants to own their greatness with pride, be accountable to their peers, and be engaged, curious, and connected to their community.


We approach the artistic process with openness, rigor, intention, and joy! Our programs cultivate an enthusiastic learning environment that supports creative expression while nurturing a high degree of discipline and focus. We encourage our participants’ creativity, and we also challenge them.

CAN 2022. Photos by Steve Wagner


Cleveland Act Now (CAN) is a year-round theatre program for young artists ages 5-14. CMHA CAN takes place in partnership with Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) at community centers for children and families who live in public housing. Under the guidance of CPT Teaching Artists, young artists learn how to create and perform their own plays, dance, poetry, music, and visual art. These multidisciplinary performing arts activities improve academic skills, instill empathy and responsibility, build character, and enhance creative thinking. The students regularly perform at CMHA community centers as well as arts festivals throughout Cleveland. CMHA CAN is offered at four CMHA estates: Lakeview Terrace, Woodhill Homes, Outhwaite Homes, and Riverside Park. CPT also offers CAN Academy, a free performing arts program for younger teens and youth from Cleveland and surrounding neighborhoods, held on-site at the theatre. Young artists engage in rigorous (and fun!) theatre training, learning acting fundamentals, script analysis, storytelling techniques, and play creation.

Learn more about CAN >>

Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP), a rigorous arts-based program that provides hands-on job training, engages youth from Cleveland families in a powerful learning experience that develops job skills, academic achievement, and interpersonal skills. As part of this eight-week summer program, youth ages 14-19 work together to create, produce, perform, and tour their own play. This program is the longest-running arts-based, workplace development program in Cleveland and is an international model for engaging youth.

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Y-Haven Theatre Project is a program for residents of Y-Haven, a YMCA center providing temporary housing and Substance Use Disorder Treatment to individuals who are homeless, re-entering the community from incarceration, and/or recovering from Opioid Use Disorder. The program teaches performing arts and technical aspects of theatre while addressing critical personal, interpersonal, and job-related skills through a comprehensive process. The program culminates in the performance and community-wide tour of an original play based on stories from the clients’ lives.

Learn more about Y-Haven >>