Ronn Richard panelist on U.S.-Cuba relations

Photo: Havana, Cuba, © Flickr user Fotoffigrafie

Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard was a panelist this week at The City Club of Cleveland’s “The Case for Opening Cuba” discussion.

The panel hosted local voices on U.S. relations with Cuba, and the role Ohio can play as policies evolve. Panelists were joined by Luke Albee, senior advisor to Engage Cuba, a coalition that works to build support for normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, including ending the travel and trade embargo.

Ronn is also a member of the new Ohio State Council announced this week by Engage Cuba. Members include prominent Ohio business and community leaders, who have joined to call for an end to the longtime trade embargo with Cuba in order to benefit Ohio business and agriculture interests.

Though the U.S. began restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2015, Cleveland’s relationship with Cuba has been developing over the past decade.

In 2008, we supported the Brookings Institution’s “U.S. Policy Toward a Cuba in Transition,” simulation project and report, which researched the best path forward in advancing U.S. national interests and promoting a peaceful and prosperous Cuba. The report became a blueprint for recent steps to chart a new course with Cuba.

In addition, Ronn, with the support of our board and leadership, saw opportunities for arts and cultural exchanges. The Cleveland Foundation has since made several grants that connect Cuban and Cleveland-based urban planners, dancers, and artists, including:

  • In 2010, we supported the Cleveland-based residency of Cuban ballerina Laura Alonso at DANCECleveland. And, with a grant in fall 2015, we supported DANCECleveland’s efforts to expose existing and new audiences to a Cuban modern dance performance through the presentation of Malpaso: A Cuban Dance Project. It’s playing Saturday, Feb. 27!
  • In 2011, we supported five contemporary Cuban artists-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Art through our Creative Fusion program.
  • Earlier this year, we supported a semester-long design exchange between Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) and the University of Havana, Cuba that will take place this spring 2016.

Panelists also discussed new possibilities for cultural and artistic exchange, tourism, and economic development between the U.S. and Cuba, and how Ohio may play a role in fostering the relationship.

View the full panel discussion here.

Photo: Havana, Cuba, © Flickr user Fotoffigrafie