Cuyahoga Community College: Sustainability

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Discuss how you think about sustainability in reference to arts-based interdisciplinary exchange. Was your project part of a longer trajectory of work?

Tri-C’s Creative Campus project was an outgrowth of the College’s evolving institutional commitment to the creative arts. Since 1980, the College has annually produced “Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland,” the free “Showtime at High Noon Series,” “Tri-C Presents” and, more recently, the “Classical Piano Recital Series”. Over the years, audiences served have totaled more than 1,325,000.

As an active participant in the Association of Performing Arts Preenters, Tri-C submitted a proposal for the first round of Creative Campus funding. Though Tri-C was not awarded funding at that time, the College was able to find the means to commission and present the proposed multi-disciplinary performance piece “Crossing Bridges,” which incorporated student writing and film-making, during JazzFest 2009. The experiences of applying for Creative Campus funding and of successfully completing a project that embodied the spirit of the Creative Campus initiative fueled Tri-C’s determination to submit a proposal for the second round of funding. Brian Bethune, then Dean of Creative Arts, led the project development process during the Fall of 2009 and the Spring of 2010. Dean Bethune, who is also a theater director, advanced the idea of using the Epic of Gilgamesh as a focal text that would be suited to classroom work in a variety of fields and could provide the basis for a multi-disciplinary performance piece as well. Composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), who has impressive experience working within urban educational settings and also for creating multi-disciplinary work, was enlisted as lead artist during the proposal development phase.

The potential for this project’s continued impact exists and will be of interest as the leadership and structure of the Creative Arts Division continues its evolution. What is clear is that Project Gilgamesh successfully laid the groundwork for collaborative efforts going forward. The connections created between faculty across disciplines and campuses will be invaluable as Tri-C focuses on interdisciplinary arts projects in the future. Furthermore, offering the project as a national model at the convention of the National Organization for Strategic Organizational Development (NISOD) sets the stage for continued interactions with similar institutions regarding arts integration.

What is/was left behind in terms of relationships and knowledge?

The Department is going through a transition, and the focus and mission of the presenting aspects are not clear yet. This will be a task for new leadership to build. Though many of the people involved in this particular project are no longer with Tri-C, the project was extensively documented and the documentation is well organized. As the new Dean begins and organizes the staff, there is potential for re-energizing presenting on campus. The resources are abundant in facilities, expertise, and willing and energetic faculty, partners and participants.

We created numerous resource materials for teaching The Epic of Gilgamesh and we created a Songbook that approaches the Epic from a contemporary perspective. Both our academic resource website ( and our creative hub ( will remain “live” through the Fall Semester 2012 until a long-term home for the Gilgamesh resources can be arranged. The academic resources may be able to be maintained on the Tri-C Library pages, for instance, and DBR is currently maintaining In addition, Cleveland Museum of Art and Great Lakes Theater both have the ability to use the resources they created for their own educational purposes.

What steps have you taken, if any, to advance arts-based interdisciplinary work on campus subsequent to your Creative Campus project?

The Department of Creative Arts launched the Young Visiting Artist program in the last year of Project Gilgamesh. This was a long-term artist-in-residence program headed by Tri-C alumnus and Jazz trumpet player, Dominick Farinacci, to help boost interest in the Jazz Studies program at the high school level. The structure of Project Gilgamesh was a good model for the Young Visiting Artist program to follow. Dominick Farinacci, a young up and coming artist, was able to interact with DBR and watch how he handled working with large groups of students, faculty, community members and manage a large project like this at the college level. As Dominick gains more experience and the staff continues to be involved, the Young Visiting Artist program could grow and become the next Creative Campus activity.

Summary | Partnerships | Lessons Learned | Sustainability | Resource Materials | Contact Information >> View All Creative Campus Projects

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