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Center for Arts-Inspired Learning Elects New Members to Board of Directors

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning is pleased to announce that Anthony Ania, Erica Clayton, Shawn Leeth, and Nwaka Onwusa have been elected to the CAL Board of Directors. The Board approved the appointments during meetings held on May 12, 2020 and August 11, 2020. All four members will serve terms through June 2023.

“It is with great excitement that we add four new members to our board of directors, ” said CAL President and CEO Marsha Dobrzynski. “Each one brings extensive professional expertise that will provide valuable new perspectives to the table and will help the organization as we work to evolve to meet the needs of the changing educational landscape. I am delighted they have chosen to share their time and talent with CAL.”

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A message of solidarity, action, and hope

Given the history of systemic violence against Black Americans, we take the stance that Black Lives Matter. The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning – our staff, artists, Collective, Board of Directors – stands in solidarity in the fight against systemic racism and injustice. Our organization will continue to provide programs where young people can learn and discover artistic means of advocating for and expressing themselves. We affirm our commitment to equitable access to an education that includes the arts. 

We will continue to work with schools and community partners and use arts education as a way of supporting youth as they process their emotions and the challenges they face in Cleveland and America as people of colorWe recognize that we have more learning and work to do. 

Right now and into the future, we pledge to be part of the solution. 

  • We will listen and respond with action. 
  • We will support our colleagues, teaching artists, staff, and board members as they move through this tumultuous time. 
  • We will seek new ways to engage the power of the arts to support the Black and Brown students and families that we serve. 
  • We will use our platforms and resources to uplift the voices of the communities of color in Northeast Ohio.


Center for Arts-Inspired Learning Board of Directors, Staff, Teaching Artists, and Collective

Fall 2019 Updates at CAL

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) has had a busy and rewarding fall season! Since August, CAL has offered over 1,200 performances, workshops, and residencies in schools across Northeast Ohio. Over 100 of those programs were Pre-K workshops designed by CAL teaching artists and CAL’s pre-kindergarten program CAL Sprouts, which now features four art forms for educational partners to choose from: Digital, Musical, Dancing, and the newest addition Illustrative. CAL resident teaching artists and roster teaching artists have also provided in-school arts-integrated programming to youth across all grade bands. CAL introduced a new program entitled Blowing Off STEAM, a six-week visual and digital arts residency, that began with an interactive performance. Showcasing real and fictional emotional situations through the eyes of the artists, the performance allowed students to see the impact of such situations and have the opportunity to reflect and ask questions. Students worked with teaching artists in weekly workshops on recording arts and podcasting to expand upon the ideas of managing conflict and self-regulation through the creation of digital arts projects.

In addition to in-school programs, CAL has offered a variety of out-of-school time programs. Twice a week 30 students from Mary Bethune School and Stonebrook Montessori participate in visual and performing arts programming at Studio 105 @ the Glenville Arts Campus. CAL’s STEAM Saturdays: She Creates program, for middle school girls to learn about STEM subjects through the arts, featured filmmaking. By taking ownership of their learning through script writing, lighting, on- and off-camera interviewing, participants in the fall session had fun and gained experience to be able to pursue careers in the creative technology field. CAL also received a competitive grant award from the American Express STEM + Arts Integration Initiative for Level Up! Intended for middle-school youth, this year-round afterschool program empowers youth to understand and to take charge of their world. A professional game designer leads 25 students from Mary Bethune and Citizens Leadership Academy twice a week through activities about interactive media, game design principles, and active play to teach students how to become creators of video games.

CAL has also launched music lessons spurred by the generous donations of musical instruments from across Northeast Ohio. Play It Forward, a program in partnership with other Cleveland organizations, including Arts Cleveland, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the City of Cleveland has allowed CAL to offer free music lessons to youth who have minimal music instruction in their schools. Youth take lessons in guitar and trombone at the Cudell and Glenville Recreation Centers twice a week.

In order to provide more in-depth learning to ArtWorks apprentices, the ArtWorks job training program is now offered in one yearlong afterschool session for 40 students that takes place through the Fall and Spring. Students in Visual Arts, Spoken Word/Poetry, Hip Hop/Krump, and Fashion Design co-ops, or groups, are all learning or improving techniques in the arts while also learning job skills such as interviewing, resume-building, and time management. To stay appraised of the latest in ArtWorks, check out the blog.

CAL has also had some exciting updates within the organization. Executive Director Marsha Dobrzynski was recognized as a 2019 Woman of Note by Crain’s Cleveland and the 2019 Women Living STEM Award from STEM Ecosystems and TIES. We are also pleased to announce the addition of 3 new members to the Board of Directors: Jamil Sanders of Sequoia Financial Group, Jennifer Goings Smith of Eaton, and Ciera Parish of Jones Day. Plus, CAL is now a proud partner with OAC, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, OhioDance, and VSA Ohio for the development of the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster. Learn more about this exciting initiative here.

We wish all of our friends, supporters, and partners a happy and healthy holiday season!

CAL partners to develop and launch Ohio Teaching Artist Roster

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) and its arts and education partners across the state have developed and launched the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster with a new online search tool to help connect communities with well-qualified teaching artists across the state of Ohio. Available on the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) website, the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster is designed for use by the public, particularly educators, to assist in identifying teaching artists who can lead high-quality, arts-integrated creative opportunities that are aligned with academic content standards. Teaching artists are professional artists who are also trained in improving student outcomes through arts education.

CAL has partnered with the OAC, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, OhioDance, and VSA Ohio to develop the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster. These partner organizations share administrative maintenance responsibilities and manage the roster and related professional development opportunities.

“We are grateful to have worked with our fellow arts and education organizations on this unique partnership,”
said Marsha Dobrzynski, CAL’s Executive Director. “Being able to maximize our collective expertise throughout this collaboration has allowed us to define the role of teaching artist at the state level. These newly established guidelines and qualifications help ensure access to high quality arts education to children across Ohio.”

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NEA Big Read Cleveland announces public programming

The county-wide celebration of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine kicks off 1/23

(Cleveland, OH—January 16, 2019) The NEA Big Read Cleveland announced today its public programming around its celebration of Citizen: An American Lyric, beginning with a free public keynote event featuring the book’s author, Claudia Rankine, on Wednesday, January 23 from 7-8:30pm at Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Parma Snow Branch (2121 Snow Rd, Parma, OH 44134). Managed in Cleveland by the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL), the NEA Big Read is a nation-wide community reading program that broadens our understanding of the world, our communities and ourselves through sharing a good book.

One of 75 communities nationwide participating in the 2019 NEA Big Read, Cleveland‘s celebration of Citizen includes 50+ events hosted by more than 30 partners throughout Cuyahoga County between January 23 and March 2019.

Attendees of January 23 kickoff will be treated to a conversation between Rankine and Ohio Poet Laureate Dave Lucas, an original poem by CAL resident teaching artist, Kalim Hill, and a book signing. Attendees can reserve a seat to the kickoff here. Several area libraries will livestream the event, including Lakewood Library Main Branch and Heights Library Lee Road Branch.

In addition to the kickoff, the community can participate in Big Read through book discussions, writing and poetry workshops, film screenings, performances, and more. Find the full calendar of events at and check back frequently, as more events are still being added.

“We are thrilled that Claudia Rankine will be here to discuss her book as our programming gets underway,” said CAL Executive Director Marsha Dobrzynski. “We can’t think of a better way to set the tone for the rest of our read, which aims to break down negative stereotypes while providing opportunities for meaningful self-reflection and productive discussion about the impact of racism and intolerance on our community.

“It is with great excitement that CAL has been able to partner with so many community organizations throughout Cuyahoga County to help our 2019 programming reach a much wider audience – in Cleveland and beyond.”

Though public programming continues through the end of March, a county-wide poetry slam on Saturday, March 9 will serve as the official culminating event. Presented by Lake Erie Ink and the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), the poetry slam will be held at 2:30pm in the CMA Auditorium. Open to Cuyahoga County youth in grades 7-12, up to 20 teens will compete during the three-round slam. Presented poems must be original works and inspired by Citizen.

In addition to public programming, CAL’s 2019 NEA Big Read grant award also supports in-school programming. Students from 24 participating schools will engage with Citizen through poetry or visual art workshops presented by CAL teaching artists that have been customized to complement the classroom work surrounding the reading of the book. Schools are also invited to attend the in-school kick-off – a second, school-only author event to be held on Thursday, January 24 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center.

Rankine’s participation during the 2019 NEA Big Read in Cleveland is supported by Ohio Humanities, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University.


For media inquiries, contact CAL Marketing Manager, Katie McCullough at For a calendar of events for the NEA Big Read in Cleveland visit

Community members can also participate in Cleveland’s NEA Big Read via social media by following #BigReadCLE or #CitizenCLE and by joining the conversation @CenterforArtsInspiredLearning on Facebook and @artsinspiredCAL on Twitter.

For more information about this announcement, please read the press release.

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning announces grand opening of its creative arts center in Glenville

Event serves as kickoff to new afterschool art clubs

The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) will host a grand opening celebration at its new creative arts center for children and teens on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 1 to 5pm. The public event invites community members to explore the organization’s second programming space, located at 1470 E. 105th Street in Cleveland, formerly the FRONT Porch.

Beginning with a ribbon cutting at 1:30pm, the free event will feature a student art gallery, drumming workshops, hands-on arts activities, and refreshments. Throughout the afternoon, there will be performances by Kevin Conwell & the Footprints, Ray McNiece, Jewel Jackson and African Soul International, and Mama Fasi of the Fasi Cultural Experience. CAL will also unveil an interactive mural created by 3rd and 4th grade students from Patrick Henry Elementary School in Glenville. Using touch activated circuits, attendees will be able to learn about the community through the students’ own words. Additionally, members of the community will be invited to vote to help determine the new name for the community programming space.

“Over the years, we have witnessed not just the positive impact the arts have on children’s educational success, but also how valuable it is to children’s personal growth – helping cultivate critical thinkers, confident collaborators, and dedicated citizens,” said CAL Executive Director Marsha Dobrzynski. “This was a key motivator for us to open a community arts space in the Glenville neighborhood and expand the arts programming we are able to offer children and teens in our community.”

The event will serve as a kickoff to CAL’s new Makers and Mentors Art Clubs which begin the following day. The free afterschool clubs are open to students in grades 3-12 and run Tuesdays from 3 to 5pm for elementary students, Mondays-Thursday from 3 to 5pm for middle school students, and Thursdays from 4 to 6pm for high school students. A main goal of this kickoff is to give potential art club members (Makers) and their families the opportunity to interact with the club teaching artists (Mentors) who will be on hand at the event. Students will experience the types of art they would create as art club members and will be able register for the clubs on site.

“Our afterschool clubs were designed to support and mentor students through the arts,” continues Dobrzynski. “We look forward to engaging with families at the kickoff event so they can be confident that our clubs provide their children a safe place to create and express themselves, have fun, and just be kids!”

To learn about programming on E. 105th Street or to enroll in a club, visit

For complete event details visit

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning receives NEA Big Read grant for 2018-’19

Celebration of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine expands to include all of Cuyahoga County

For the second consecutive year, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) has been selected as one of 79 nonprofit organizations to host a NEA Big Read program. A grant award of $15,000 for the 2018-’19 program year, combined with expanded community partnerships and programming options, will give residents throughout Cuyahoga County the chance to participate in Cleveland’s NEA Big Read celebration of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. Programming will take place during the month of February 2019.

“We are excited for the opportunity to grow our audience to include not only the city of Cleveland – but all of Cuyahoga County – in our NEA Big Read celebration,” said CAL Executive Director Marsha Dobrzynski. “Thanks to our growing list of community partners, this year’s read is truly a BIG read. It is our hope that residents throughout the county will engage with Citizen and find meaningful connections to their daily lives.”

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. In choosing Citizen as the book selection for its community read, CAL intends to facilitate healthy, respectful, and potentially uncomfortable dialogue with the goal of encouraging self reflection while helping break down negative racial stereotypes and exposing their impact on the local community.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support opportunities for communities across the nation, both small and large, to take part in the NEA Big Read,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “This program encourages people to not only discuss a book together, but be introduced to new perspectives, discuss the issues at the forefront of our own lives, and connect with one another at events.”

The 2019 NEA Big Read in Cleveland is presented in partnership with Cleveland Cinemas, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Euclid Public Library, Heights Libraries, Lake Erie Ink, Literary Cleveland, Music and Art at Trinity Cathedral, Rocky River Public Library, Shaker Heights Public Library, and the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland. Program events will include book discussions, movie screenings, poetry and creative writing workshops, and a county-wide poetry slam presented by Lake Erie Ink.


To learn about becoming a community partner, please contact CAL’s Special Projects Manager Megan Thompson at For a calendar of events for the NEA Big Read in Cleveland visit

Community members can also participate in Cleveland’s NEA Big Read 2019 via social media by following #BigReadCLE and #CitizenCLE or joining the conversation @CenterforArtsInspiredLearning on Facebook and @artsinspiredCAL on Twitter.

For more information about this announcement, please read the press release.

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning announces opening of Inspiration Center

a 21st century creative space for on-site community arts programming

(Cleveland, OH—April 26, 2018) The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) will unveiled its Inspiration Center on Saturday, May 5, 2018 during its STEAM Saturday coding workshop from 9am to 12pm. The event  showcased the newly renovated programming space, including a maker space, at the CAL headquarters at 10917 Magnolia Drive in University Circle.

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Women on the Move's mobile billboard and resource center.

Women on the Move’s Cleveland tour will stop at ArtWorks on April 26

On Thursday, April 26, Women on the Move brought its 26-ft truck turned mobile billboard to ArtWorks as part of its Cleveland tour. Apprentices explored the multi-media resource center which was created to aid in the prevention of sexual assault, harassment, and domestic violence. Read More ›

Spring 2018 ArtWorks session begins

On February 20th, the Spring 2018 session of CAL’s signature youth program ArtWorks began. Forty high school students from cities across Cuyahoga County were selected to participate in four co-ops highlighting an assortment of visual and performing arts disciplines:


Teaching artist: Lakewood Young Filmmakers Academy

Apprentices are studying the history of film to develop an understanding of their own artistic voice. They are also studying the aspects of making a feature length film including screenwriting, behind the camera work, direction, and editing while making a film they can be proud to include on their own demo reel.

Japanese Poetry/Drawing

Teaching artist: Tim Geaghan

Apprentices have the opportunity to see where manga comes from. They are exploring the depths of their own true, free voice while writing Japanese poems (but not the Haikus one may have written in middle school). Apprentices are drawing with bamboo sticks while exploring the line from their heart, to their lungs, to their voice. This line starts with words and ends in images to create a shape for their lives.


Teaching artist: Ray McNiece

Apprentices are using their voice, body, and personal experience to create 10-minute plays adapting traditional folk tales to the stage. They are learning the foundational techniques of acting as well as bringing their own voice to the table to create their own storytelling narratives focusing on the arc of their play. This co-op is focused not only on the performance of a piece, but also the process necessary to bring theater to life.

Visual Arts/Mixed Media

Teaching artist: Shelly Svonavec

Apprentices are exploring their personal identify through memory, beliefs, emotions, obstacles, character values, imagination and experience to develop their artistic voice. They are developing a daily ritual of inspiration which will work with learned visual arts techniques to create a collaborative piece using their own innovative techniques. This co-op focuses on finding one’s personal path to their creative process rather than following the “rules” that previously may have been set for them.

Check back to this blog to find out more about ArtWorks and our spring apprentices. Also join us on May 10th from 6 – 8pm for ArtWorks Live!, a free public showcase of the apprentices’ original artwork.

High School Students Design and Merchandise Original Fashions

Owner of Shaker Square’s Cosmic Bobbins mentors 10 ArtWorks Apprentices

Cleveland, OH (February 24, 2014)—10 students have created one-of-a-kind totes worthy of Manhattan’s boutique shops. They’ve learned the fundamentals of hand-sewing, reverse applique, and machine applique. They’ve analyzed market trends and spearheaded their own merchandising strategies. And did we mention that they’re all in high-school? Read More ›

Basheer Jones to Inspire Cleveland High School Students

Motivational Speaker, Writer and Community Activist to Encourage Creative ArtWorks Teens

Jennifer Abelson
Director of Marketing
Center for Arts-Inspired Learning
(216) 561-5005

Basheer Jones to Inspire Cleveland High School Students
Motivational Speaker, Writer and Community Activist to Encourage Creative ArtWorks Teens

WHO: Basheer Jones, one of the region’s most powerful and engaging voices in media and entertainment, and 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade Cleveland students

WHAT: Basheer Jones will speak to 40 ArtWorks apprentices, encouraging them to take an active leadership role in their communities

WHEN: February 12, 2014 from 4:30-7 PM

WHERE: Halle Building (1228 Euclid Ave) Read More ›