Postcards is an Austin Classical Guitar (ACG) and series that explores the guitar programs around the nation and strives to bring the guitar teacher community together

This week’s Postcards is written by Erik Mann, Executive Director of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society

In this postcard, Erik discusses the arts renaissance in Cleveland, OH and the work the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society is doing in the community. 


Postcard from Cleveland by Erik Mann

An arts renaissance is happening in Cleveland. And the societal impact is incalculable.

Under the Arts Mastery initiative of the Cleveland Foundation, eight organizations are changing the city, one student at a time, in the areas of theater, written and spoken word, photography, curatorial arts, dance, voice, stringed instruments, and classical guitar. The Cleveland Classical Guitar Society is proud to be one of these members.

Out of the 71 largest cities in the U.S., the City of Cleveland has the second highest child poverty rate. This is felt on almost every level of a child’s life, presenting numerous barriers to an equitable life. One huge area of inequality is in the arts. Despite one of the greatest arts scenes in the country, few children in Cleveland have a chance to be engaged in meaningful arts learning, including learning an instrument. That is where CCGS has found the opportunity to change a lot of lives.

Since 2012, Cleveland Classical Guitar Society has been working with schools and neighborhood centers to build classical guitar classes where the need is the highest. In the last few years, the achievement of our students has been so exciting to watch, with a feature nationwide on CBS This Morning, two of our students getting into a fellowship at Cleveland Institute of Music, performances prestigious venues like Severance Hall (home of the Cleveland Orchestra) and Cleveland Museum of Art, acceptance in Interlochen and Brevard summer camps, and much more. Thanks to a recent grant from the Cleveland Foundation, which represents the largest grant in CCGS history, we now have over 550 students in grades 2-12 studying in our program.

Most exciting of all has been the impact on the kids. The Cleveland Foundation recently sponsored a video documenting our program.  In it, students and administrators talk about how learning the guitar has increased kids’ confidence, social skills, grades, and attendance; and how our teachers’ mentorship has filled the gap when a parent is missing.

I am so excited for the future of the program. We are moving toward a 5-year goal of increasing the depth of the program while expanding to 1000 students. That means that we are always looking for more teachers with passion and excellence. If that describes you, view our job postings here. And keep using your talents to bring good to the world. 

Erik Mann – Executive Director – Cleveland Classical Guitar Society

We’d love to hear about guitar in your part of the world next! Reach out to Jess Griggs anytime with your story and a photo or two.