In 1970, Ron and Jan Kumin had a vision for a community arts center. After much planning and community outreach, they built a 9,000 square-foot facility on Fairmount Road in Russell Township which included three rehearsal studios, a visual arts and pottery classroom and a gallery for the fine arts. They incorporated as Fairmount Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, a not-for-profit corporation. Enrollment grew rapidly in the early years and soon several performing companies were formed, including the Fairmount Spanish Dancers, the Fairmount Dance Theatre and the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf. As the demand for classes and performance programming increased, so did Fairmount's need for extended venues.
In 1979, financial hardship forced the closing of the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf, which had operated in the library on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, as well as the Fairmount Dance Theatre. New leadership led the way through these troubled times and partnerships with a professional dance company and various school systems were developed. Fairmount Dance Theatre was reinstated, and a performing youth theatre was integrated into the programming.
In 1987, Marsha Carl took the reigns as Executive Director. Under her direction from 1987 to 2003, a Suzuki music program was added, along with a performing community orchestra, the Chagrin Valley Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Carl expanded the programming at Fairmount to include workshops in art, pottery, dance, music, theatre and gymnastics.
In 2003, a new executive director – Thomas Q. Fulton – was hired. Mr Fulton, who has a long history of work as an artistic and executive director in the arts in northeast Ohio, led the board through a vigorous development of mission, vision, values and beliefs, organizational philosophy, goals, and a long-range operating plan. Additionally, the name was changed to Fairmount Center for the Arts and new programming was introduced, including the Fairmount Performing Arts Camp, School of Writing and the Fairmount Center for the Arts Writers' Conference.
In the summer of 2011, the Fairmount Board of Trustees appointed Jessica Leary Allen as the new Executive Director of Fairmount Center for the Arts. Ms. Allen has worked for organizations of various size and scope as a fundraiser, editor, and program manager and brought 15 years of experience in not-for-profit management to Fairmount Center.
Today, the Fairmount Center's programming includes classes in fine art, dance, music, theatre, and exercise and movement as well as performance opportunities through the Fairmount Spanish Dancers, Fairmount Dance Theatre (FDT) Fairmount Dance Theatre Company (FDTC), and Youth Theatre Lab (YTL). The Fairmount Center's performance venues include the Mayfield Village Civic Center, St. Anselm's Church and the Chagrin Falls Performing Arts Center.