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CSU Brings the Arts and Humanities to Life in Cleveland, June 7-9

The AHA! Festival will include appearances by Delia Ephron, Jon Meacham, Isabel Wilkerson and Karina Smirnoff


The worlds of books, theater, music, art, dance and ideas all come together in downtown Cleveland on June 7, 8, and 9 at the inaugural Arts and Humanities Alive! (AHA!) Festival presented by Cleveland State University. Visitors can have their own AHA! moments during the multidisciplinary Festival which features Pulitzer Prize winning authors, a world premiere children’s theater production and internationally known artists. The inaugural theme of Storytelling: What Our Stories Tell us About Ourselves will be woven throughout the three-day Festival. AHA! is made possible thanks to a generous gift from former Clevelanders Myra and Darwin Smith.

Award-winning authors Isabel Wilkerson (the National Book Award for The Warmth of Other Suns) and Jon Meacham (the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House) will each present talks which trace distinctively American stories through the migration of African Americans from the South to the North and in the lessons of leadership we can learn through our own Presidents. A day long outdoor book fair will take place on Euclid Avenue, in front of Playhouse Square, from 14th -17th streets, and will feature a children’s area, with storytelling and free performances, community literary groups and libraries, including Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Cleveland Public Library, publishers, local authors and interactive opportunities to engage with book lovers from all over the region.

“While CSU has a long and proud tradition in presenting world class arts productions through our unique partnership with Playhouse Square and the Cleveland Play House, the AHA Festival will bring all this and more directly to the community, showcasing our commitment to promoting arts and humanities as drivers of education, economic development and civic engagement,” says CSU President Ronald M. Berkman.

Former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, John Frohnmayer, will be the resident curator for the Festival, acting as host and discussion leader. CSU’s annual Arts Education Day Luncheon will be held on the stage of the State Theater at Playhouse Square and will feature a keynote address from East Cleveland native Yvette Nicole Brown, who is currently starring in CBS’ remake of The Odd Couple. Community members are also invited to kick up their heels on the stage of the State Theater with “Dancing with the Stars’” own Karina Smirnoff, who will lead a free dance workshop.

In addition, an adult theater production, the well-known “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephron will be presented in the Outcault Theater, in partnership with Playhouse Square and Mamaí Theater Company.

Stories from our world and beyond will be featured in a TEDx Salon led by Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, renowned artist and astrophysicist from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and The Malpaso Cuban Dance Company will present several works in progress at the Gund Dance Studio.

“We invite everyone down to the Festival to find their own AHA! moments: during a play, hearing an author, listening to a piece of music or watching bodies in motion,” says festival director Katie Shames “The arts and humanities teach us about who we are and bring out the best in us.”

Several other exciting additions will be added, but haven't been confirmed as of this release. And while most of the programs in the Festival will be free of charge, some events will require an admission fee and registration will be requested for most events. Complete information about the schedule, as well as an opportunity to sign up for the Festival newsletter, may be found on the AHA! Festival web site: