Graham Grund, Arts Leader and Activist


Graham Grund, a longtime Cleveland arts leader and activist, created Access to the Arts in 1990 to bring the arts to people who couldn't get out to experience it. Her original idea was to enrich lives of the shut-in elderly and sick by bringing performances by music students to them. Over time, offerings evolved to include dance, drama, poetry readings, storytelling and a wide range of music, including jazz. At its height the program sent artists out to hospitals, hospices, senior centers and retirement communities, reaching nearly 17,000 people a year.

It turned out that Access to the Arts not only enriched seniors’ lives, but it also served as a means for the young artists to hone their skills and display their talents and, at the same time, learn compassion for and understand of aging and suffering.

Grund devoted herself to this organization’s work, even as she continued volunteering for other area arts institutions. Because Access to the Arts had no known models, its programming required countless hours of planning and research. 

Though not a performer herself, Grund has served as a bridge to the arts in other ways. She has been an active member of the Cleveland Museum of Art Womens Council for more than 50 years.(She is the only person to have acted as the group’s chair for two consecutive two-year terms.) For decades, she volunteered at the art museum’s information desk on Saturday mornings, not only helping visitors, but serving as a role model for other volunteers and potential volunteers. Grund’s decades of arts advocacy also include service to the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland International Piano Competition.

In 1998, Access to the Arts spun off Arts on the Air, a series of interviews broadcast over WCLV-FM 104.9 FM. The stellar list of the show's Interviewees includes artist and industrial designer Victor Schreckengost, architect Philip Johnson, Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most, former Cleveland Orchestra music director Christoph von Dohnányi, architect Frank Gehry, harp virtuoso Alice Chalifoux, antiques experts Terry and Ralph Koval, Cleveland Museum of Art director Timothy Rub, Cleveland Foundation director Ronn Richard, concert pianist Christopher O'Riley (the radio host of From the Top), photographer Jennie Jones, Cleveland Institute of Art president David Deming, Apollo’s Fire founder and director Jeannette Sorrel and rock music critic Jane Scott.


Cleveland Arts Prize
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