CMA Thinker
Published in

CMA Thinker

Parade the Circle Is 30 Years Old: Why a One-Off Anniversary Celebration Became One of Cleveland’s Signature Summer Events

Stefanie Taub, associate director of Community Arts in Public and Academic Engagement

Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

What do you think of when you think of a Cleveland summer? A ball game at Progressive Field? Drinks on your favorite restaurant patio? Concerts at Jacobs Pavilion? Or, perhaps you think of a human butterfly hybrid with a 10-foot wingspan surrounded by a gaggle of stilt walkers, giant puppets, and colorful floats. This oddly specific memory is a scene from the CMA’s summer event, Parade the Circle.

Now in its 30th year, Parade the Circle has become one of the city’s signature summer celebrations. In the essay below, Stefanie Taub, associate director of Community Arts in Public and Academic Engagement discusses why this event has grown into an annual summer spectacle and shares some details on how the CMA is celebrating its 30th year.

Designed to celebrate the Cleveland Museum of Art’s 75th anniversary, the first Parade kicked off around Wade Oval in 1990. Over the next several decades, the audience grew from approximately 500 people to more than 80,000, and Parade participants increased from 125 to more than 1,500. Started as a single celebration, Parade has become Cleveland’s annual free signature summer kickoff event. Each June, Wade Oval transforms into a colorful, vibrant, dynamic procession — a celebration of art and community.

Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

This year Parade the Circle turns 30. What is the secret to the success and longevity of Parade the Circle? While Greater Cleveland hosts a multitude of festivals and events, Parade the Circle unites art and community from start to finish. Individuals, families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors work side by side with professional artists, often spending weeks and months creating elaborate ensembles reflecting their lives and the world around them. Doctors become stilt dancers, administrators become puppeteers, accountants promenade in full costume pulling floats. Communities come together every second Saturday in June to rejoice in the beauty and accessibility of art. Parade the Circle is a genuine reflection of the mission of the museum: to create transformative experiences through art, for the benefit of all the people forever.

Images courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

“Doctors become stilt dancers, administrators become puppeteers, accountants promenade in full costume pulling floats. Communities come together every second Saturday in June to rejoice in the beauty and accessibility of art.” — Stefanie Taub, associate director of Community Arts in Public and Academic Engagement

Parade Theme

In 1995 Parade the Circle introduced the idea of an annual theme, a concept that would provide parade participants inspiration in creating their ensembles. This year, Robin VanLear, creator of Parade the Circle and director of the CMA’s department of Community Arts, explains the theme, Mythology of Illusion as “The word mythology derives from the Greek words mythos and logy, mythos meaning ‘a true narrative or a story of the people’ and logy meaning ‘to tell’: mythology means to tell the true story of a people. Illusion comes from Latin and Old French, and means ‘to play with.’ So now we are playing with the stories of the people.”

This June we will witness the mythologies of paraders from Cleveland and beyond as they transform their own realities into fantastical creations. People become flowers, sea creatures, works of art, dragons, flying saucers, butterflies, robots — a beautiful and lively expression of their stories and personal illusions!

Images courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

To celebrate this milestone Parade, 30 Parade artists worked together to create a commemorative Parade the Circle poster and T-shirt. The grid of letters and images reflects the diverse experiences and mythologies of professional artists, administrators, musicians — some who have worked for Parade for its entire existence.

Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

I was honored to create one of the letters in the poster. As an arts administrator with a background in music, creating visual art is not in my comfort zone. But with trial and error, support from my colleagues, and the true belief that everyone has the ability to create art, I created a reflection of my mythology. That’s me in the first column, second from the top, standing on stilts showing the world that I, too, am an artist!

Stefanie Taub, associate director of Community Arts in Public and Academic Engagement. Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

Parade the Circle is Saturday, June 8, rain or shine. It kicks off at noon from the museum’s north door and moves in a counterclockwise direction around Wade Oval Green. Circle Village, art activities, food, and stage entertainment is available on Wade Oval Green from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Parade tent, located in the new East Bell Commons green space (corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road), hosts public workshops beginning May 3. Visit cma.org/parade for details on workshops. Stop by the tent anytime, create some art, and join the Parade!

Images courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store