Arts Summit to explore diversity, equity, ‘Boots’

This year’s Arts Innovation Summit will be focusing on the theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts with a focus on this semester’s musical “Kinky Boots.”

The arts summit is put together in partnership with BW Arts Management and Entrepreneurship, the Center for Innovation and Growth, theatre and dance, and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

“It’s a place where we provide programming so that people can learn about new and innovative programming, education, businesses or just new practices in the arts related field,” said Hannah Schlueter, LaunchNET program manager at the Center for Innovation and Growth.

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture is a Cleveland-based organization that supports local arts organizations throughout Cuyahoga county, said Schleuter. The summit will be held in a panel-style discussion with Jill Paulsen, interim CEO and executive director for Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, moderating the discussion.

The panelists include Malinda Rauschenfels, co-director/vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for Burning River Baroque, Aseelah Shareef, director of operations and community engagement for Karamu House, Monica Torres, executive artistic director/artist at LatinUS Theater Company, and Megan Young, project coordinator for SPACES.

“Each of these organizations are receiving funding from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and has identified them as doing innovative and high quality work in the arena of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Bryan Bowser, program director and assistant director of arts management and entrepreneurship, and department chair of interdisciplinary studies for arts management and music theatre.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the theme for the summit, which has been a topic of conversation in the arts.

Arts organizations are mission based, which includes serving their communities, said Bowser, and organizations need to diversify those that do not are not fulfilling their mission statement.

“Everyone…needs and deserves to have arts in their lives,” said Bowser.

The summit will include a preview of the upcoming musical theatre production of “Kinky Boots.” It is timely to be having this conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion with “Kinky Boots” because the musical shares similar themes, said Bowser.

The summit is a way to have a conversation and get people thinking and will give students a real world view, said Bowser, and help build skills for an artistic career in the 21st century.

The arts innovation summit will take place on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. in the Kleist Mainstage Theatre.