Margaret Craig is a longtime resident of North Collinwood and storyteller working to better connect arts with the wider community.
A lifetime Cleveland resident and 25 year community member of North Collinwood, Craig employs storytelling to engage with her fellow residents. She uses singing, acting, performance - just about any medium - to engage with other community members. She's even a professional clown.
Exposing children to art is her passion, especially the connection of the spoken word with the written word. It's easy to see the roots of this dedication in both her personal and professional background.
Craig taught preschool for 20 years before working for the Salvation Army, Northeast Shores Development Corporation and even Waterloo Arts (then Arts Collinwood). She's currently the Learning Zone Director at the Salvation Army on Grovewood Avenue, where she is in charge of after school programming. To all the kids, she's "Ms. Margaret."
Throughout her work, Craig engages the community and especially younger generations. She loves telling stories to children and involving them in the creative process. Folk stories are incredibly important to her; often these are tales of morality. One of her favorites is the African folk tale, The Baby Leopard.
She tells stories at schools, churches, libraries, wherever they are needed - all in addition to her day job.
Now Craig is taking her love of youth engagement and storytelling to an even broader group of the community. Her "Neighborhood Arts Ambassadors" program - one of nine winning Ballot Box projects - is a summer internship for youth ages 13-16. Twelve Ambassadors will be selected and become "bridges" between the extensive arts programming in North Collinwood and community members who are not well connected to this work.
Ambassadors will learn about all the arts businesses, organizations, programs and individual artists during June's Walk All Over Waterloo. They'll then take this knowledge and design their own arts-based programming to engage other community members about the arts assets in North Collinwood. The youth will get to decide how exactly they engage the community as Arts Ambassadors, but Craig envisions a combination of spoken word, performance art, photography and other media being used.
In addition to her Ballot Box participation, Craig is a member of the committee for the new O.H. Perry Elementary School construction and a member of the E. 156th Street Block Club. Find out more about her Ballot Box project online and keep an eye out for Arts Ambassadors in the neighborhood this summer.
By Joe Barbaree
Resident of neighborhood since 1956. Worked on East 185th street since 1970.