Views change on Keep Cleveland Boring
by Rory Doyle
Apr 16, 2013 | 2466 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some get the name, some don't. Therein lies the attention-grabbing tag of a group of locals trying to enhance the Cleveland art, entertainment and music scene.

The community-run group goes by the completely sarcastic name of Keep Cleveland Boring.

Keeping Cleveland boring is, in fact, entirely opposite of the movement's mission — which is partly why it was mentioned in Smithsonian Magazine after Cleveland was ranked No. 2 on the list of "20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013."

"Creative young locals surprise even themselves by coming home to stay after college, though their art group’s wry motto — 'Keep Cleveland Boring' — confounds elders," boasts the reference.

There's been some confusion behind the slogan since the group formed two years ago, but one of KCB's founding figures, William "Weejy" Rogers, explained the goal is to show the town is composed of a number of creative and talented individuals who keep Cleveland interesting.

"The name sort of makes fun of the idea that there's nothing to do here," said Rogers. "People say it's boring but they don't do anything to change that.

"It's about not accepting this town as boring."

So the effort to keep Cleveland life stimulating revolves around a number of activities, many of which are open to all ages and are either free or low cost.

KCB, which does not profit from the venture, helps organize the newly-formed Art in the Alley, designs and publishes the free monthly arts/music newspaper known as “The Skinny,” keeps an updated blog of local happenings, assists with Cleveland-Bolivar County Young Professionals events, hosts open mic nights and helps put on two long-running music festivals — Otherfest and Anotherfest.

Local volunteers, most of whom take part in the activities as either musicians or artists, do all of the groundwork for these projects.

Fellow KCB leader Justin Huerta said the name has intentional shock value.

"Clearly, Keep Cleveland Boring catches on with the young," said Huerta. "We're targeting the younger generation but we'd love everyone to come out and enjoy our events. Art in the Alley is for everyone and so are the music festivals.

"We need support from the younger generation or they'll leave and Cleveland will be stuck with nothing. It's about building for the future."

So far, the movement has caught on well and Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Communications Director Brian Blansett said the Smithsonian recognition was a well-deserved pat on the back.

"Looking at their mission, their goals are closely aligned with what we do at the chamber," said Blansett. "Unfortunately the name has a negative connotation with some people, but I think they are doing a fantastic job highlighting outings and events in the community.

"I'd hate to think a name would turn people's noses up," he added. "It's all tongue-in-cheek."

Promoting local activities is also a plus for Cleveland businesses and tax revenue, much like the mission of the chamber, contends Rogers.

"When spend more time in town it produces more tax revenue for businesses and restaurants," said Rogers. "For the most part, the community has been very supportive."

Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell agreed that KCB's efforts have been a boost to city life.

"Their events definitely help generate revenue downtown, especially late afternoons and nights," said Nowell. "They're bringing a lot more activity to the area and I was glad to see them recognized by the Smithsonian."

Nowell also urged residents not to judge KCB's name at face value.

"I think older people like us finally figured out it's pretty cool," he said.

And KCB hopes the coolness will only continue to grow.

Huerta said he's planning a Cleveland Bites festival in the near future where local restaurants, chefs and fresh food growers will come together and provide their cuisine in a public setting.

And KCB's largest event, Otherfest music festival, now in its eight year, will be hosted in Cleveland this fall.

It was previously held in Rosedale but plans are underway to set up stage off of U.S. Highway 61 just north of town.

Blansett said the Young Professionals, who operate under the chamber umbrella, would likely volunteer for Otherfest.

So the networking and expansion continues.

"We're here to entertain," said Huerta.

"Come to some of our events and you'll see it's not just for one particular crowd," added Rogers. "Like Dylan said, 'the times they are a-changin'.'"

To get involved or learn more about Keep Cleveland Boring, visit www.keepclevelandboring.com or the Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contact KCB at info@keepclevelandboring.com.