Planning to shoot ourselves in the foot – again?

I am a member of the Cultural Tourism Steering Committee for Positively Cleveland, the former Convention and Visitor’s Bureau of Cleveland. We meet periodically to provide ideas and guidance to PC (sorry, I just can’t keep writing Positively Cleveland – you can draw your own conclusions about the aptness of the acronym).
It’s a good and diverse group of people who genuinely care about Cleveland and think hard about how the arts can attract visitors and enrich the lives of the locals. The committee is chaired by Bruce Akers and staffed by Tami Brown, vice president for marketing for PC.
At the latest meeting, we were reviewing the distribution plan for PC’s Plus Pass and complaining about how hard it was to get arts organizations together to collaborate on anything when someone mentioned the Medical Mart and Convention Center.
I asked if PC was developing a citywide plan for tourism for when the new convention center was operational. The answer was “no.”
Now, to Tami Brown’s credit, she jumped on the idea. We brainstormed about getting leadership from all stakeholders – the hotels, restaurant owners, airport, taxi services, RTA, GCP, DCA, the city, major cultural organizations, local attractions, etc. – in the same room to be part of the planning process. We said this should not be just another stand-alone plan by a single organization, created in a vacuum and which would fail because it required the collaboration of other actors who had not been invited to the planning party.
We do that, you know. All the time. We pull our internal, narrowly focused group together and plan for our own interests, and then expect others to jump on our bandwagon to make our privately conceived dream a reality. Or we invite other stakeholders to one meeting or focus group and then never contact them again.
It happened with the Browns’ stadium, it happened with the lakefront cultural institutions, it happened with Euclid Avenue, and Lord knows it’s still happening with the Medical Mart. Lots and lots of stand-alone projects that still stand alone.
Where’s the plan to bring back Euclid Avenue now that the Health Line is up and running? Do we really think that a new set of busses and fancy bus stops will bring back all the lost businesses that the construction forced to close? Or suddenly create interest in the brownfields and abandoned factory eyesores above E 55th St.?
Where is the long-term, visionary city plan that everyone has bought into that can live beyond a single institution, a single leader, a single administration? How many times can we shoot ourselves in the foot before we bleed to death?

1 Comment

  1. Carrie Miller

    While I am all for creating a plan for tourists, what about the plan for the people that live here? How do we get the people who live in the Greater Cleveland area to recognize that they are sitting on a cultural gold mine? As someone who works for a cultural institution, I get very discouraged when I see people not taking advantage of the world-class amenities we have. Who wants to got to the Art Museum when there is no one else there? Why do we expect other people to see The Cleveland Orchestra as the world-class orchestra that it is when we don’t even attend? I think we need to start from within and get all of the cultural institutions in a room and create a package that will help Clevelanders rebuild our city and take advantage of the cultural institutions we have while we are also figuring out how to get those outside of Cleveland involved as well.

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