Cleveland, Please Consider This…

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And here it is, folks. It’s the post that I’m finally going to write that is probably going to make everyone hate us. But I ask you: Cleveland, my Cleveland, please consider this…

These past few days I have been inundated with images on the TV and Tweets about the trials, tribulations, and overall mishaps of the Cleveland Browns. So much lamenting I am officially ill, and I will tell you why, but let’s get something straight right now: The Browns do a lot for the city of Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns Foundation, founded in 1999, provides support for those at risk, especially children with disabilities. This is truly commendable, and I appreciate what The Browns do to support local organizations and children. I believe that the Browns are a big part of our city, and they they instill a sense of pride in its residents despite their record. But all of that said…

(and this is NOT a Browns-bashing session)

I wish that the Clevelanders who spend so much time and energy on the Browns would open their eyes just a bit and possibly consider that there are other things in this city worthy of their support and enthusiasm that have a much more positive track record.

Here’s my question: Why will this city fawn over a team that has had a losing record for longer than almost anyone can remember, has had sixteen different head coaches, and even inspired Mike Polk’s classic (and indeed unforgettable) “Factory of Sadness” diatribe?

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Click on the photo for Mike Polk’s “Factory of Sadness” video.

I know we’re all Clevelanders and we all love our Browns. Part of what I admire about this city is its loyalty. However, I wish some of that loyalty and energy would be shared with some local institutions that might just be a little more deserving. The Cleveland Orchestra: arguably the best orchestra in the world. MOCA: highlighted in The New York Times, and recognized nationally and internationally for its vital and creative exhibitions and public programs. PlayhouseSquare: the second largest performing arts district in the nation, second only to New York’s Lincoln Center. The Cleveland Institute of Art: named one of the best design schools in the world by Bloomberg Businessweek. Need I go on?

It just makes me sad that so many people sob, moan, and whine about the disappointment of the Browns year after year after year. They spend so much time, energy, and money on an institution that causes this town so much heartbreak. Interceptions, bad coaching decisions, new quarterbacks that can’t deliver, and coaches that last but one season… how long will this continue? So much exhausted on a team that after all these years never seems to improve in quality, whereas the world-class arts institutions in this town seem to be constantly struggling for funding and attendance. Has anyone ever gone to a ballet and after it was over said, “Boy, those dancers really sucked. And the artistic director? What was he thinking?” I don’t think so. The number of complaints and disappointments during a Browns game seem infinite, but yet the stands remain packed season after season. People won’t pay $60 to see some of the world’s best musicians at Severance Hall, but yet they’ll drop $300 to watch the Browns play like high schoolers…. Hey- I’m just sayin’.

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Josh Cribbs at his “Shop With A Jock” event that helps many Cleveland children.

As an artist and nonprofit owner, it continually saddens me that so many people give so much time and money to a team that has so often performed poorly. That’s not to say that hundreds of people don’t make lasting memories and friendships in the Dawg Pound every year or that the players of the Browns don’t change lives with Josh Cribbs’ annual “Shop With A Jock” event and the other charitable events they hold. But what I would like the folks in this town to consider is that there just might be some hidden gems here that are much more worthy of their time, money, and attention, and that it would be a shame for those first class Cleveland organizations to remain hidden to them any longer, because they are truly remarkable…

…I hope Ballet in Cleveland is one of those organizations that might share in their attention.

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Click here for Ballet in Cleveland’s article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

And just as food for thought, this city lost one of its most amazing institutions twelve years ago- The Cleveland Ballet. Ballet in Cleveland is committed to its history and to maintaining a presence of the best quality classical ballet in this city once again.

The Cleveland Ballet was founded in 1972 by Dennis Nahat and Ian Horvath as a dance school, the School of Cleveland Ballet. Its first performance was at the Hanna Theatre on November 16, 1976, and its first full Nutcracker with live musical accompaniment with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra  was in 1981. The Cleveland Ballet had its premiere season in The State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare in 1984-1985 and successfully performed full-length ballets at its home at the State throughout the remainder of the decade. Despite persistent financial problems, The Cleveland Ballet maintained the highest level of artistic excellence in classical ballet, and is revered to this day by dancers and dance companies nationwide as one of America’s most technically brilliant companies. This past holiday season during our open house in correspondence with the Cleveland Orchestra’s presentation of the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker, we heard more people say that Cleveland Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker was second to none. We certainly agree. 

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Cleveland Ballet stars Karen Gabay and Raymond Rodriguez in Cleveland Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

Don’t forget to share the wealth of your attentions, CLE. Don’t be blinded to the many amazing things going on in our fair city by the shadow of a team that despite its valiant efforts just can’t get some things right. Keep your eyes open, and you just might love what else you see.

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