Building 'Bridges' To the Arts: The Smith Center Joins Cleveland Clinic for Arts Engagement Program

For three consecutive Wednesdays in February, a collaboration between The Smith Center and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health offered engaging arts-based workshops created specifically for community members living with neurodegenerative disorders and their caregivers.

Each session was a complimentary arts-oriented “Lunch & Learn” workshop based on the touring production of The Bridges of Madison County. The Broadway musical show was presented February 23-28 at The Smith Center.

The musical itself could be a metaphor for the meetings. Its story is about commitment, the importance of family and the support of friends - art not imitating life, but enhancing it.

During these three weeks, the Lou Ruvo Center’s weekly “Lunch & Learn” sessions were based on the themes, story, and music of the Broadway musical, offering the arts as another bridge to memories, both new and old. Specific themes included photography and storytelling; music and movement (examining ways to tell stories through music and our bodies); and new connections to Broadway, a discussion on the genre of Broadway musicals, which included three cast members of the touring musical.

With the support of The Broadway League’s National Engagement Grant and The Smith Center, those who attended the workshops were offered an opportunity to purchase two discounted tickets for a matinee performance of the musical during its run at The Smith Center.

The sessions reflected the essential elements that enable connections with families dealing with challenges: a relaxed learning environment; a theatrical approach to memories; supportive institutions; and a three-week commitment to inform, entertain and engage an important area of our community living with a challenging medical issue. These were bridges worth building.

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