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More Than
My Art

A creative activism initiative

powered by Cleveland VOTES.

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More Than
My Art (MTMA) 

is a creative activism initiative that utilizes various community building and skill sharing activities to integrate the perspectives and experiences of creatives in Cleveland into civic engagement efforts. This program deliberately seeks to harness the transformative power of artistic expression for meaningful social change, in order to identify and incorporate more diverse voices. While this program is similar to our other programmatic offerings, it specifically targets and engages self-identifying artists, creatives, poets, dancers, and culture workers. It is our hope that this program is ever evolving and that by engaging creatives we find new ways to amplify the messages of marginalized communities. 

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Creative/artistic activism is broadly defined as “a dynamic practice combining the creative power of the arts to move us emotionally with the strategic planning of activism necessary to bring about social change.”

More Than My Art seeks to:


  • Educate the City of Cleveland’s voting age residents on civics and onramps for equitable civic engagement. 

  • Connect the creative economy and culture makers to opportunities that will leverage their insights to more effectively ignite equitable civic engagement and participation. 

  • Empower voting age residents via creative and experiential activities/campaigns to increase knowledge of civic processes and mobilize for change.

What is Creative Activism?

This initiative will be

grounded in (3) pillars: 


MTMA will foster a safe/brave environment where Creatives can share and reflect on their experiences.



Creatives and Organizers in MTMA will make use of past experiences and reflections to inform innovative and equitable democracy-building practices.



MTMA Workshops and Skill Sharing will inspire creative advocacy projects that will positively enrich Cleveland and reflect a more inclusive feedback loop.   


Creative activism can…

  • ...Create lasting memories: People are more likely to remember a creative performance or art installation than a lecture or speech. 

  • …Reach a wider audience: Creative activism can attract people who might not otherwise be interested in social and political issues. 

  • …Inspire action: Creative activism can be a powerful motivator for people to take action.

  • ...Be a catalyst for change: Creative activism can often generate media attention, which can help to spread the message and raise awareness of an issue. .

  • …Empower marginalized communities: Creative activism can provide a platform for marginalized communities to express themselves and tell their stories.


What does Creative Activism look like?

  • Community/cultural asset mapping 

  • Workshops 

  • Story circles

  • Community/cultural asset mapping 

  • Workshops 

  • Story circles

  • Popular education

  • Tool/skill sharing

  • Cross-sector collaboration

About the MTMA

More Than My Art will be administered through a series of four concise workshops—together we will think through ways that Cleveland creatives and organizers can connect with one another, start their own organizing campaigns, and collaborate or co-create assets for the purpose of advocacy.  Participants will discover the many different ways to use creative or artistic methods to get audiences to think, feel, and do things for the public good. And with these skills we hope to foster a sense of empowerment and connection with the idea that we are more than what we can produce and give participants the tools they need to develop  their own unique creative activism projects.


These are some of the objectives we hope participants will achieve:

  • Identify ways they and other creative Cleveland community members can effectively contribute to civic engagement campaigns.

  • Learn how advocacy can advance issues they care about.

  • Get inspired by the multitude of  ways that creativity and culture can contribute to social change.

  • Brainstorm creative tactics that can contribute to specific civic engagement objectives.

  • Understand fundamentals of campaign strategy and implementation. 

  • Feel they have the skills and confidence to engage in civic engagement work.

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Workshop schedule





April 24

6-8:00 pm

April 10

April 17

April 3

6-8:00 pm

6-8:00 pm

6-8:00 pm

Past examples of CV 

Creative Activism

Hope is in our DNA

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Hope is In Our DNA was a multi-iterative, public art initiative created by Shooting Without Bullets in partnership with ThirdSpace Action Lab and Cleveland VOTES to elevate Cleveland's Black history and catalyze racial equity and civic engagement efforts across our communities. SWOB unveiled Hope Is In Our DNA at the ceremonial swearing-in of Mayor Justin Bibb on January 8, 2022.


Wake Up and Vote

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On Nov. 3, 2018, Hip-Hop Artist Nipsey Hussle joined

Shooting Without Bullets (SWOB) and Cleveland VOTES for a panel discussion on the importance of youth voting along with criminal justice reform.


Center for Artistic Activism


Cleveland VOTES has contracted with the Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA) to support the assessments, evaluation and curriculum development for More Than My Art.  C4AA helps organizations and individuals understand how to best use creativity and culture to have real-world and sustained impact. Since 2009, the nonprofit organization has been central to a global movement that examines the critically important role of the arts in helping advocacy groups create vibrant campaigns that spark and sustain long-term cultural, narrative and policy change.

Through their pioneering intensive trainings, long-term mentoring, and in-depth qualitative research, C4AA strengthens the connections between social justice activism and creative artistic practice. The mission of the C4AA is to (1) help activists to create more like artists and artists to strategize more like activists; (2) build a global network of practitioners and researchers in the field of artistic activism; (3) institute and sustain the study of artistic activism an effective and affective practice.

More than partners

Creative Activism Resources from C4AA

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You can download the toolkits here


Unleashing Unstoppable



Unleashing Creative


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Meet the More Than
My Art team

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Executive Director, Cleveland VOTES

Adam Caar

Use this space to introduce yourself and share your professional history.

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Executive Director,  C4AA

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Senior Strategist, Cleveland VOTES

Senior Strategist

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Senior Strategist, C4AA

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Creative Activism Cultural Strategist Consultant, Cleveland VOTES

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More Than My Art is generously funded by:

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Cleveland VOTES would also like to thank the Assembly for the Arts for their partnership, as well as the countless artists and creatives that have spent time rapping with us as we've developed this initiative.

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