Arts-Based Community Development Convening
Transforming Post-Industrial Cities through Art and Innovation
April 12 through 14, 2012 - St. Louis

Esther Robinson

Cleveland, Ohio


Esther Robinson has worked on behalf of America’s artists for more than 15 years in many capacities, including foundation program officer, television and film producer/director, technology entrepreneur and arts activist.

Before she was 25, Esther produced the national PBS series Alive TV  (aka Alive From Off Center). In 1998, Esther co-founded Wavelength Releasing. Wavelength was responsible for the first fully digital film release, executed via satellite to five cities in October 1998.  Partnering with esteemed companies such as CYBERSTAR –(a division of LORAL), Texas Instruments, The Independent Film Channel, and others; its projects were profiled in The Wall Street Journal,ForbesVariety, and on CNN financial News.

From 1999-2006, Esther was the Director of Film/Video and Performing Arts for the Creative Capital Foundation, and was one of the principal architects of their innovative grant-making system. Her close collaboration nationally with funders and artists and her annual adjudication of thousands of grant proposals (of which only two dozen would see funding), led her to question whether traditional grantmaking was the only way to support the culture sector in America.  Recognizing the crucial role that financial solvency and home ownership played in the lives of successful artists, Esther became convinced that asset building and financial literacy should be vital components of a new support system for the arts. This led to the founding of ArtHome.

Robinson is also an award-winning filmmaker/producer (with a film and television degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts). Chosen as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2006, her critically acclaimed directorial debut A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory took top prizes at The Berlin, Tribeca and Chicago film festivals; is currently on The Sundance Channel, Netflix and I-tunes.  She is also currently a board member of Women Make Movies and Co-Chair of the Cinema Eye Honors.


Small Change in an Epic-Scale Neighborhood

Day 2 / Apr, 13 @ 4:15 pm
Lower Level : Room B

In neighborhoods like Cleveland’s North Shore Collinwood, decades of history, both good and bad, can leave a lasting impression and reputation. Through the new programs Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising, local organizations are exploring whether artists can play a role in shifting perceptions about an “epic” neighborhood and can help get more people directly engaged in revitalizing this kind of community. This session will explore how small loans and grants are being provided to support artists who want to tackle pressing community issues. We’ll take a look at the Artists in Residence and Collinwood Rising models, the neighborhood issues these programs are attempting to address and how the partners in the program are working to measure change. We’ll also focus in on how artists fit into North Shore Collinwood’s overall efforts to combat vacancy and the national implications of this strategy.