Best Local Festival
Best Art Event
According to its web site, Ingenuity's mission is to "ignite the creative spark where the arts, science, and technology intersect." And over the course of nearly ten years, the festival has done just that. Formed in 2004, it was originally intended to show off local artists and entrepreneurs. Held in 2005, the first festival drew some 30,000 people to a downtown Cleveland that had yet to experience the renaissance that resulted in the development of East 4th Street. Anyone who witnessed the "Symphony for 21 iPods" knows how unique that first festival was.
Cleveland Museum of Art
If you haven't been to the art museum in a while, then right now is the perfect time to do it. Unless, of course, you're reading this on a Monday. Otherwise, get on over to Wade Oval's most majestic offering and check out the new arrangement within. A plaintive moment of meditation in the new Atrium alone is worth a day playing hookie from work. But the rest of the museum's actual exhibits are, as always, top tier in every way imaginable. Dig the web site and check out the current slate of offerings. "The Last Days of Pompeii" looks incredible, BTW. Even to the uninitiated, the museum extends a welcome warmth to those seeking inspiration. And (psst... If you haven't heard...) it's FREE. Donations are welcome, of course.
11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org
Best Movie Theater
The Cedar Lee is the most unique movie theater in the Cleveland area because it's literally the only venue for exclusively indie small-release films. In other words, if you can't stomach one more trashy big-budget iteration of Transformers; The Dank of Saturn's Spear, options are limited, especially between January and November, before Valley View and Crocker Park start showing Oscar contenders in a more concerted way. With Cedar Lee, you can count on a continually surprising, fluid line up with challenging foreign fare, documentaries, and wider release films that appeal to more refined sensibilities. (It's not that there's never a time and place for Fast and the Furious 106; it's that the Cedar Lee is the only consistent alternative.) The late-shift cult classics series that they share with the Capitol is another point of recommendation. Situated on the corner of Cedar and Lee in Cleveland Heights, there's an ample roster of bars and restaurants nearby to enhance your movie night as well. 2163 Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts., 440-349-3306, clevelandcinemas.com
Best Performing Arts Space
Playhouse Square is the nation's largest performing arts complex outside of New York City, and the thrill of going to see a touring Broadway musical in one of its elegant theaters never gets old. There's something old-timey about it, a night on the town. But it's not just Broadway musicals you'll find at Playhouse Square. With nine distinct venues, programming includes (but is by no means limited to) comedy acts, variety shows, literary lectures and concerts. There's something happening every night of the week, and with competitive ticket prices and discounted season bundles, seeing high-caliber performing arts has never been as classy nor as comfortable. Both Book of Mormon and The Lion King are coming this summer, so get your tickets early! 1501 Euclid Ave., 216-771-4444, playhousesquare.org
Best Place for
B-Side Liquor Lounge
Though it's about to undergo a rebranding and become the B-Side Liquor Lounge & Arcade, the B-Side Liquor Lounge has been the go-to place for local spoken word artists for the past 8 years. Dubbed Lyrical Rhythm night, the Tuesday night spoken word event boasts "open mic poetry and soul" and will sometimes feature a live band to back the performers. But with the rebranding of the club, owners say Lyrical Rhythm has come to a close and they held the last Lyrical Rhythm night earlier this month. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216-932-1966, bsideliquorlounge.com
Best Local Act
LAST CALL CLEVELAND
Sketch comedy! Sketch comedy! Sketch comedy! Who needs SNL when we've got local top-notch sketch comedy! Four really funny dudes, helmed by the omnipotent Mike Polk, were YouTube sensations thanks to their "Honest R&B Song," "First Semester Spanish Love Song," and of course Polk's seminal "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video." These guys are hard-nosed, wacky comics with pedigree and charm. They've been delighting audiences around the country and have earned rave reviews in Canada! That's a different country altogether! Their YouTube videos are still original and snappy on repeat viewings in the way of the best viral content. Go and see them live at Playhouse Square. lastcallsketch.com