Perhaps the most stunning trait of Cleveland’s current economic condition isn’t the debilitating effects of the decline of our traditional industries. You don’t need a degree from the Weatherhead School of Management to know the city will never be a steel or auto center again and that good jobs in those industries will continue to decline.
What’s surprising is the lack of vision, discussion or planning for Cleveland’s next big industry. While the mainstream media are great for telling us about profitable niches in polymers, fuel cells and advanced manufacturing, we’ve spent precious little time contemplating and arguing about the small- to mid-sized industries that could play a significant role in our future.
Major programs at Kent State University and the expanding Virginia Marti College of Art and Design have lifted Cleveland’s fashion sense to respectability, while the Greater Cleveland Film Commission has boosted the city’s bottom line since 1998 by attracting film and television productions. Recent filming for “The OH in Ohio” and “Spider-Man 3” offered good press and additional revenue.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland also recently hired Tamera Brown as its first director of arts and cultural tourism and then promoted her to vice president of marketing. She’s targeting Columbus and Pittsburgh with advertising and setting up “familiarization tours” for travel writers.
Here are a few events this month springing from nascent industries that could each blossom into an economic driver.
Prelude2Cinema Self-proclaimed film czar Alex P. Michaels, who produces independent films and has won an Emmy Award for his writing, wants to create an incubator to kick-start the local film industry. He is hosting a conclave May 4 from 5 to 7 p.m., complete with dinner, to give local filmmakers, actors, members of the media and supporters of the local film industry a chance to network. Massimo da Milano, 1400 W. 25th St. www.prelude2cinema.com
Fashion Week Cleveland Cleveland’s largest fashion event, started by benefits promoter Dr. Donald Shingler, has evolved into a complex series of parties, rituals and galas that culminate in Fashion Week Cleveland, May 4 through 14. The event includes a sushi pre-party at Cloud 9 in the Warehouse District, a mixed-media runway event at 1300 Gallery in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, a cruise on the Majestic yacht and a black-tie fashion show at Convivium33 downtown.
Christo and Jean-Claude Acclaimed artists Christo and Jean-Claude attract tourists like crazy. The pair’s most recent public work was 2005’s “The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005,” which saw the installation of simple gates with orange banners hanging from them throughout the famous Manhattan park. The art installation pulled in more than 4 million tourists and generated $254 million in economic activity during its 16-day run. The artistic duo — also famous for wrapping everything from buildings to islands in colorful fabric — will speak at Severance Hall May 23 at 7 p.m. www.cma.org n