FireFish Arts



FireFish Arts is on a mission to enhance the arts, cultural, civic, and economic development in the city of Lorain. With a year-round commitment to arts and culture, we ignite the creative spark among artists, community members, youth, entrepreneurs, and innovators. At its core, our mission is about using arts and culture as tools to engage our community in positive change.

This work sets us apart as an arts organization.

  • Offering free, year-round, inclusive, community and local artist-driven arts programs, events, and public art, we highlight and celebrate our unique, diverse “International City.”
  • We support local artists, entrepreneurs, and businesses as we work together toward the vision of a vibrant and inclusive downtown Lorain.
  • We engage at-risk Lorain youth in meaningful arts and STEAM enrichment led and supported by working artists.


We are dedicated to building a vibrant, creative, and inclusive Lorain where artists, community members, and youth all have access to top-notch arts experiences; a city where the arts, artists, and creativity are valued contributors to the ongoing growth of our community and its vitality.

Core Values

FireFish Arts strategy for this work is built on our core values:

  • We provide free neighborhood access to excellent arts programming and enrichment. We believe this is a basic right that empowers people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds in the city of Lorain.
  • We uplift and measure the arts as a civic, cultural, and economic driver in the city of Lorain. We work toward a shared vision of a vibrant, creative, and inclusive downtown Lorain.
  • We give stage to Lorain’s artists, musicians, performers, and creatives, who provide vital civic, cultural, and economic impact in our city.
  • We provide year-round arts exposure and enrichment to all of Lorain’s youth.

Our Work

FireFish Arts works as a powerful partner for everyone seeking to reimagine and revitalize the city of Lorain, creating activities of exceptional artistic, educational, and cultural value. Emphasizing collaboration and partnership, we work together toward a shared vision of a vibrant and inclusive downtown Lorain.

  • Our programs are free, ensuring that our entire Lorain community can access amazing cultural arts events that are inclusive, and that are community and local artist-driven.
  • We bring the entire community together for essential artistic expression, celebration, and fellowship.
  • We offer opportunities for community engagement in the arts for everyone through our support of local artists, free community arts events, and youth art enrichment programs in Lorain neighborhoods.
  • We achieve this by utilizing proven strategies that feature local artists, community, and youth access to high-quality arts programming, and by working with multiple collaborative community partners.

We Accomplish this Through

  • Year-round arts youth SPARKS! Programs
  • Arts and performance events including Fire It Up First Fridays! and our culminating annual FireFish Festival.
  • Valued arts leadership in the city of Lorain, including work with multiple non-profit agencies and City of Lorain leadership on projects including the new South Lorain CHOICES neighborhood initiative.
  • Creative placemaking initiatives include The Alley Project: Broadway’s Back Door, the Marie Bonnaminio Butterfly Garden Sculptures, multiple mural projects, and more.
  • Special projects/community requests, including an Asphalt Art project with Lorain Active Transportation, and pending grant-funded projects to create a Main Street Lorain mural and arts/cultural city markers with the Lorain Historical Society.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Representing the diversity of the community in arts programming and throughout FireFish Arts is an ongoing priority. Importantly, nearly all the community youth programs reach culturally at-risk youth. While the organization has also historically worked to include the diverse Lorain community as participants and as artists/vendors/performers, in the past two years we have worked to deepen and broaden that representation across our board, artist board, and contracted artists/educators.

FireFish Arts Artistic Director Joan Perch and board member Gloria Buxton recently completed DEI training offered by the Community Foundation of Lorain County.

Our Board of Directors, Artist Advisory Board, and contracted artists/educators have consistently represented the diversity of our community, and increasing inclusion has always been a priority. This work began in a more focused way in 2018, to increase the inclusion of the Hispanic community in the FireFish Festival was a priority. In 2019 increased inclusion of the Black/African American community was prioritized and represented over 40% of the festival programming. In 2019, nearly all the Main Stage performances represented Hispanic Culture.

Importantly, FireFish Arts removes barriers to perception and participation in the arts for the entire community Lorain community by engaging the community through free, accessible, and diverse programs. Nearly all the youth we serve are historically underserved and culturally at risk. In the SPARKS program, we will be systematically collecting more detailed demographic data on participants.