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Dancing Wheels, LAND Studio win Creative Culture Grants Competition

The public has spoken, and the board of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture has listened.
Guided by 6,500 Cuyahoga County residents who voted online and by mail, CAC -- which gives grants through the so-called cigarette tax -- has named Dancing Wheels and LAND Studio winners of its Creative Culture Grants competition.
They were among six finalists vying for two project grants of up to $150,000 based on a percentage of their annual budgets.
Dancing Wheels, the Cleveland company for dancers with and without disabilities, will receive $130,421 for "Daring to be 'Dumbo,' " a collaboration with WKYC Channel 3, the Diversity Center of Cleveland, Girl Scouts of America and others.
The project will expand on Dancing Wheels' new production of "Dumbo," set for performances in May, and create a television documentary about bullying using stories of artists and community figures.
LAND Studio -- an acronym for Landscape, Art, Neighborhoods and Development -- has been awarded $150,000 for "Aha! Festival of Lights." Along with partners, including the Cleveland Public Library, Positively Cleveland and Downtown Cleveland Alliance, LAND will present a free, multiday festival of lights in downtown Cleveland public spaces in 2014 to celebrate recent development.

The directors of the winning groups were beside themselves Monday after hearing the news.
"It's such a ringing endorsement for this organization," said Ann Zoller, executive director of LAND Studio. "We're so appreciative of the leadership that CAC has shown by making these kinds of significant investments in the community as a celebration of the arts."
Dancing Wheels artistic director Mary Verdi-Fletcher said the grant will enable the company to mount a project "that will be far-reaching and hit close to home for many people, because the idea of bullying and the idea of other social injustices really touch everyone. This will be a way to lift them up and see the positive side, to see a way of rejoicing in the face of diversity."
Along with voting for three organizations, the public was asked to rank the choices, giving three for first place, two for second place and one for third. Dancing Wheels received the most votes (7,940), followed by LAND (7,658). Votes were tallied by Survey & Ballot Systems in Eden Prairie, Minn.
Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director of CAC, said she was excited to see organizations come together and the public show such enthusiasm for the project.
"All six finalist projects were creative, they got lots of people involved, and the process of getting the vote out got people involved," she said. "It was interesting to watch organizations that weren't finalists say this is a great project, so go vote. These projects are going to make the community a little better." 

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