The Mission:

Waterloo Arts is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to enrich the neighborhood culturally and economically by creating a stimulating arts environment through quality exhibits, performances, special events, and educational programming for people of all ages.

The Vision:

Waterloo Arts strives to be a creative hub for the presentation and exploration of thought-provoking art and design.  We advocate for a neighborhood where artists live and work and their contribution is regarded as vital to the health of a community. We look forward to a neighborhood where creativity is nurtured in every child and artistic expression is a part of our everyday lives.

The Story:

The Waterloo Arts building is located in the Waterloo Arts District and features the Waterloo Art Gallery, the (former) Callaloo Cafe, artist studios, and a large community center space for classes, rehearsals and performances.

In 2002, the historic neighborhood of Collinwood was in a sad state of decline, with more vacancies than businesses along Waterloo Road. The ravages of the postindustrial era were still evident as the scourge of a new recession was taking hold. In the midst of this somber picture, the visionary artists and residents who founded Waterloo Arts, were not deterred.

They looked past the dilapidated, boarded up buildings and saw the promise of a great urban neighborhood. From the then fledgling music venue, the Beachland Ballroom, to the Slovenian sausage shops to the miles of great beaches to the many artists living in Collinwood, they knew there were many assets to build on.

These visionaries gathered in coffee shops and around kitchen tables dreaming of a thriving arts community – where young creatives could get their start and the older generation would still feel at home; where innovative thought and individual expression would be nurtured; where artists would live, work, and contribute to a better quality of life for all Collinwood residents.

In the winter of 2002 an art show was held in a renovated storefront on Waterloo Road. Hundreds attended, the storefront was rented, and Waterloo Arts was born. With seed money from The Cleveland Foundation’s Neighborhood Connections, educational arts programs followed. In 2004, a building was donated in the heart of what is now the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District. It was renovated into an art center where Waterloo Arts now manages a highly regarded gallery showing regional, national and international artists; a café featuring live music and open mic nights; a large annex for educational programs and performance; resident artists; eight artists’ studios; Zoetic Walls—a public art program featuring regional and international artists; and the annual Waterloo Arts Fest, which engages the community in celebration of the many cultural assets of our region.

Ultimately, inspiration and imagination are all insignificant without concerted effort and collective action. Waterloo Arts has had the privilege of partnering with numerous arts organizations, community groups and local government. We are especially grateful to the many Collinwood residents who have supported our events, programs and ambitions. We owe a very special thank you to our volunteers and donors for making Waterloo Arts a reality.

The founders of Waterloo Arts believed that the arts could be the catalyst for community building and economic development. With 15 arts-related businesses and over 6 million of direct investment, people are flocking across town to join the excitement and secure available housing and business space—the story of the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District is a testament to the transformative power of cultural investments in our communities.