Last year, we asked, "How Did Cleveland Become a Mecca of Modern Theater?"
The two reasons we mentioned at time were the two pillars of the city's theater scene—the Cleveland Play House and the Cleveland Public Theatre. These two entities serve as classic anchor institutions. Not only are they the physical and inspirational nuclei of Cleveland's theater boom, but they've also helped revitalize the city itself.
Of course, you need talent to fill the halls of any theater. Without it, the city wouldn't currently be in the thralls of what American Theater calls an "urban renaissance." Which brings us to the Nord Family Foundation's Playwright Fellowships.
Now in its third year, the Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellowship is funded by a three-year grant from the Nord Family Foundation. The fellowship is a year-long program for Northeast Ohio playwrights of "extraordinary potential, offering opportunities to develop work through readings, staged readings, and workshop productions." The Amherst, Ohio-based foundation recently announced three fellows for its 2015-2016 cycle, Stuart Hoffman, Gail Nyoka, and Greg Vovos.
In an effort to provide fellows with as much exposure as possible, the foundation's Playwright Fellowship Reading Series is a one-weekend-only series featuring full-length plays in process written by the fellows and featuring local directors and performers. The performances took place earlier this month at the Cleveland Public Theatre.
According to Nord's site, it has contributed over $100 million to nonprofit organizations in northern Ohio and selected geographic areas of family interest. The foundation's major areas of focus over the last several years have been those projects endeavoring to "strengthen families and strengthen the public service."
At the end of the day, Nord's Playwright Fellowship underscores the not-so-secret secret to Cleveland's thriving theater scene. It functions as a kind of ecosystem built on partnerships, whereby foundations like Nord fund the development of playwrights who then get a public viewing at one of the city's preeminent theaters.