Creative Fusion: Connecting Cleveland With the World 

In 2008, the Cleveland Foundation created an unprecedented international artist residency program that has brought more than 80 foreign artists to Cleveland. Each year, Creative Fusion brings approximately a dozen accomplished or rapidly rising artists from around the world and from underrepresented cultures to Cleveland. Each artist is hosted by a local cultural institution during a three-month residency. There are two residencies each year: one in the spring and another in the fall.


What makes the Creative Fusion residency unique is that, in addition to undertaking innovative work in their discipline, each artist is spending just as much time, if not more, on making strong connections and exchanges with local artists, students and the Greater Cleveland community. The deep engagement that Creative Fusion offers at the artistic level generates a rich and lasting impact. Beginning in 2016, the program strengthened collaboration between local Cleveland artists and the visiting artists-in-residence by focusing each Creative Fusion cohort along a single theme. 

Creative Fusion: The Madison Residencies

Fall 2017

In collaboration with FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, the fall 2017 Creative Fusion cohort includes a selection of local, national and international artists who will live and/or work in the newly developed PNC Glenville Arts Campus as they research projects that will be unveiled as part of the inaugural FRONT Triennial, titled An American City. During the residency, the artists will have the opportunity to work closely with the city’s institutions, interact with the local community and explore the city of Cleveland. The Madison Residency program is named in honor of Robert P. Madison, Ohio’s first licensed black architect and designer of the residency building at the Glenville Arts Campus. Madison Residency artists include:

  • Juan Araujo (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Dana Awartani (London, United Kingdom/Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
  • A.K. Burns (New York, USA)
  • Juan Capistran (Los Angeles, USA)
  • Johnny Coleman (Oberlin, USA)
  • Sean Connelly (Honolulu, USA)
  • Elizabeth Emery (Cleveland, USA)
  • Harrell Fletcher (Portland, USA)
  • Dale Goode (Cleveland, USA)
  • Lin Ke (Beijing, China)
  • Guillaume Leblon (Paris, France/New York, USA)
  • Adriana Martínez (Bogotá, Colombia)
  • Michael Oatman (Cleveland, USA)
  • Julie Ezelle-Patton (Cleveland, USA)
  • John Riepenhoff (Milwaukee, USA)
  • Indrė Šerpytytė (London, United Kingdom)
  • Cally Spooner (London, United Kingdom)
  • Lauren Yeager (Cleveland, USA)

Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition Creative-Fusion-Logo-Cuba-Edition

Spring 2017

The spring 2017 residency, Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition, was likely the first-of-its-kind exchange connecting cultural institutions of a major Midwestern city with a selection of celebrated Cuban artists for an extended project-based residency.  The multidisciplinary cohort included internationally renowned artists showcasing the best in architecture, design, printmaking, photography/mixed media, the written word, ballet and modern dance. Seven local arts organizations hosted Cuban artists, who participated in a variety of projects. Learn more about Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition here.

Explore Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition on social media using #CLEvana and #CLExHAV. 

Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition in the News 

Cover image of CAN Journal Spring 2017 issue

Creative Fusion: Street Art Edition 

Fall 2016

Read about the 2016 Creative Fusion Hingetown project here, and see the murals here

Frequently Asked Questions About Creative Fusion

What is the process?
  1. Six local nonprofits per cohort apply to be a host organization. Going forward, each cohort topic or concentration will be selected by the Cleveland Foundation with ideas emerging from the community. The concentrations will center on opportunities emerging in the both Cleveland community and globally issues and opportunities.  For example, In the Spring of 2017, Creative Fusion will create an artist exchange between Cuba and Cleveland that will include 6 Cuban and 6 Cleveland artists, dancers, architects collaborating on projects on Cuba and in Cleveland. In the future, a cohort may be designed to:
  • Select artists all from one country
  • Have Artists all in a particular medium (all in theater, visual arts, photography, authors, dance, etc.)
  • Locate the artist all in one neighborhood (place based)
  • Select the artists based on a theme or a current global issue (for example: all refugee artists or all artists dealing with social justice).
  1. Each of the nonprofits host organizations then select their international and local artists. International artists may come from a list of artists from a panel of international nominators or from their own research.  The host organizations select the local artists based on the collaboration with the international artist, the quality of their work and their expertise in the specific residency topic that will be taking place. The host organization is fully responsible for the artists, providing housing, transportation, and orientation to Cleveland and other supports. The host also provides the conditions to support new creative work, creative exchange with local artists and for engagement with the Cleveland community – in particular with young people. Host organizations receive a grant from the foundation that covers all major costs of the residency.
How has Creative Fusion evolved?

Creative Fusion engages with the community at the conclusion of each residency. While many local artists were engaged with the international artists, we believe there could be a stronger commitment and that Cleveland artists should and could be a more integral part of the residency. Hence with the fall 2016 residency, six local artists have been invited to be partners in this residency working with the international artists and the community and are compensated for their work. Based on creative discussions between the local and visiting artists, there may be opportunities for collaborations or the artists may select to work independently. Each local artist will create their own piece for this residency. This practice will continue and grow as we discover and develop more ways to engage local artists and communities. Creative Fusion believes it is essential to have the collaboration of local and international artists as we work to enrich our communities.

Why is international exchange important?

International arts exchange is fundamental because it creates an environment for genuine compromise and conciliation, enhances the education of all citizens, fosters tolerance of diverse cultures within our country, and prepares us to contribute both artistically and economically within the global society. Valuable cultural exchange is mutual and offers the opportunity for deeper and prolonged commitment between artists and encourages responsible global citizenry.  – from Guiomar Ochoa and Michael Orlove Grantmakers in the Arts.  

Interested cultural organizations should contact:

Lillian Kuri, Program Director for Arts & Urban Design

to arrange an initial briefing session.

Organizations that have hosted a Creative Fusion artist before may not need the briefing session, but we still need to know when you intend to apply, so contacting us regarding your continued interest is important.

Additional FAQs For International Artists

How can I apply for a residency?

Artists must be nominated by the program’s special panel of international experts. At this time, individual artists may not apply directly.

What kind of artist is selected?

Our nominators identify mid-career or rising-star artists in all disciplines: visual arts, literature, music, dance, theater, film and multimedia. In addition, they seek artists eager to share their creative perspective and techniques with local artists and the public, work with youth and young adults, and enjoy an authentic live/work experience in a cultured, heartland American city.

What happens during the residency?

Artists will spend at least half of their time on their own creative work. The balance of time will be divided among personal downtime, cultural and educational activities arranged by the foundation, and community engagement with their host organization. While the program does not require a finished project, most artists will be able to develop work that can be showcased by their host – either as a finished work, a work in progress, or a series of presentations shared with our community.

What are the costs of the residency to the artist?

The residency is fully funded by the foundation’s grant to the host organization. There is no application fee, and artists will receive a per diem of $4,500 USD. All material, studio, housing, travel, transportation and other costs will be covered. Artists are responsible for their own food, personal items and entertainment. Artists will not earn money, but they retain ownership of all works created during the residency.

Additional FAQs For Host Organizations

How do we learn more so we can decide if we want to be a host?

The first step is to schedule an information meeting with Program Director for Arts & Urban Design to discuss program details. If a residency seems mutually appropriate, you will be given access to the electronic application form. You may read more about the program and preview the questions on the Creative Fusion application.

How do we choose our artist?

A large pool of vetted artists is created each year by our nominators. Host organizations are given access to the artists’ work samples, CVs, and application forms to review. As a host, you will be able to identify three top choices for the residency.

How are visa, housing, and transportation issues handled?

The host organization is responsible for making all arrangements. However, the foundation has retained the Council of International Programs, a local organization that contracts with the United States Department of State, to assist with securing visas. In addition, Creative Fusion’s artist liaison will provide information on local housing options.

Additional Resources


  • Learn more about Creative Fusion by listening here.
  • Read about the partnership between Creative Fusion and CAN Journal here