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Work by Christi Birchfield, 2016 Creative Workforce Fellow

strengthening, unifying and connecting greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector

About Us


From Rust Belt to Artist Belt

The cities that artists built.

Across the Rust Belt, artists are changing the fabric of America’s great industrial cities. From St. Louis to Cleveland to Buffalo, our arts communities are developing new models for what the industrial Midwest can become … an urban laboratory for building creative, equitable and sustainable communities in the 21st century.

From Rust Belt to Artist Belt is a conference that celebrates this movement. It is a gathering for arts and community development professionals who see our region not as a place of smokestacks and abandonment but one of innovation and new life. 

The event explores different ways that artists are making a difference in industrial cities across the country and how our communities can support and expand this effort. The conference has brought together more than 600 people who are working to move the Artist Belt forward, and it is resulting in new research and new community development programs like Artists in Residence along the way.

The conference series was kicked off in Cleveland in 2008. A second Cleveland gathering in 2009 was followed by Rust Belt to Artist Belt 3 in Detroit. The fourth Artist Belt conference took place in St. Louis in April 2012.


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