THE SHORE STORY
In 1986, when Euclid city schools stopped operating the original Euclid High School, the city of Euclid recognized the opportunity to create a new community center, focusing on recreation and the arts. Arts and culture, in particular, resonated strongly with residents, and in time an active support base grew into a non-profit arts organization that organized events, activities and artistic offerings at what became known as Shore Cultural Centre.
While the grassroots enthusiasm was strong, and Shore has always enjoyed strong advocacy from its core constituents, the task was daunting: at 125,000 square feet, Shore Cultural Centre was a substantial maintenance challenge, and far more space than a typical arts center would utilize. Maintenance was neglected as the board focused on efforts to introduce programs, and the city increasingly felt the strain of operating a large, dated facility.
As budget challenges grew, the perceived burden of an enormous, underutilized and city-subsidized center became a concern for the city’s administration and its residents. Shore Cultural Centre became the center of heated debate, and came close to shutting down. In 2009, the city of Euclid invited proposals on how best to handle the future of the Shore Cultural Centre site, and ultimately accepted the plan proposed by The Coral Company to undertake a strategic planning process that would let them evaluate the importance of a cultural center and of the existing building’s potential. While clearly deteriorated, the structure had many positive features: a central location in downtown Euclid, convenient to the freeway and to public transportation; spacious grounds with ample green space convenient to other city institutions, such as the schools, library, parks and lakefront, as well as downtown businesses; unusually good programming space, including a 1,200-seat auditorium, dance studios with sprung wood floors, music rehearsal space, a fully equipped pottery studio, and large rooms with high ceilings and excellent natural light. The strategic plan recommended detailed strategies for moving ahead with Shore as the city’s cultural center, and both the city and the board of trustees have adopted the vision and recommendations.
Once the city committed to investing in professional management for Shore, the center began its turnaround. With a property manager in place, rental revenues went up, expenses came down, and physical improvements, from fresh paint and window repairs to a new boiler system, showed that the center would reward investment. The next strategic step was an investment in development – of programs, funding and the stakeholder base. Plans for growth include expanded, quality arts and culture programming, with an emphasis on multiculturalism and educational enrichment. In addition to offering classes for all ages in all media, from visual to performing arts, the space also serves as a resource for educational partners such as Tri-C and the ABLE program and provides low-cost incubator facilities for creative workforce businesses and non-profit organizations. With a strong, three-way partnership of committed city ownership, professional management, and non-profit programming, advocacy and outreach, Shore benefits from an innovative and strategic operating model, and is positioned to become not only a catalyst for revitalization in downtown Euclid, but a regional arts facility, that will offer unique resources to residents of the greater Cleveland area.