Residents of Collinwood, OH gathered to show their combined love for the arts and democracy at the “Democracy on the Move Parade”. Floats, costumes and music were the center of attention at the parade that celebrated the Ballot Box Project kickoff. “Ohio’s first PB experience…” was funded by ArtPlace America with a grant of $120,000 set aside for residents to vote on art projects in their neighborhood.

The parade was  an interactive PB project expo, where artists showcase art proposals that speak to local needs on the themes along local history, youth engagement, healthy eating and vacancy.

Voting took place from March 4th-March 9th with more than 300 votes cast by residents deciding which of the 34 submitted art projects to fund. Like many other PB processes, voting was open to youth who are 14 years and older as well as anyone who works in Collinwood.

9 artists’ projects won this year. From neighborhood family portraits to cookbooks promoting the use of local produce; these projects use the arts to help residents engage with the environment they interact with daily. The projects also encourage discussion between residents and public officials which is a plus for boosting civic engagement!

Collinwood is known for its focus on community arts which is how the Ballot Box Project emerged. The town has continued funding art while facing tough economic decisions.  Now, thanks to the Ballot Box Project, residents can directly decide which projects will have the biggest impact on the community they want to live in. Local organizations including Northeast Shores used PB to get residents involved with local affairs. People want to have their voices heard and what better way to shape what your community looks like than through the arts?!