When Arts and Business COLLIDE: Cuyahoga Falls

Posted by Sharetta Latrice Howze, Jan 31, 2020

Art is a connecting vehicle, bringing together people from different backgrounds and perspectives. It can shift attitudes and behaviors. Art can even spark a movement. Case in point is Collide: Cuyahoga Falls, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the community through the promotion, creation, and appreciation of the arts in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It began five years ago following another collision of sorts: conversations between Molly Hartong and Matt Weiss, who met through the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce. Graphic designers by trade, Molly and Matt found they shared a mutual passion for the arts. They knew the importance of artistry and the benefits of being compensated for their work. Conversations began on the importance of art, support for artists, and the effect art had on their community. Based on these conversations and their own personal experience, they asked themselves a few simple questions: Is there an organization in the Falls that represents a strong arts community? Is an organization needed to effect change?

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10 Ways to Partner with Community Artists in the New Year

Posted by Amber Cullen, Jan 27, 2020

In the small city of Akron, Ohio, a group of artists organize as VIBE Collective. We are “a network of Northeast Ohio artists in the intersection of art, culture, and education, who seek to create spaces for community transformation and healing.” Throughout the organizing of our network, a breadth of knowledge arose from us as ones who have worked alongside institutions in partnership. We’ve often been on the receiving end of challenging experiences with businesses and civic and cultural institutions in all forms and sizes, and from those experiences have been able to curate a list of ways to partner with community artists. Our hope is that you will pass this list along to your organizations, colleagues, and staff. Together, we can build a brighter future through the arts.

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The Art of Social Change

Posted by Patricia Nugent, Jan 21, 2020

One can only wonder what Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase “The medium is the message,” would have thought about the Rest Stop Theatre Project, a novel outdoor mobile experience that takes place in the back of a beat-up pickup truck. Produced by Benjamin Rexroad and Kyle Jozsa of Wandering Aesthetics (an Akron, Ohio-based storytelling theatre company), Rest Stop Theatre featured a cast of four actors running through compelling non-partisan scenes designed to increase local voting participation in the 2016 presidential election. The rollicking performance included a bit of improv, sketch comedy, and audience participation—which Wandering Aesthetics has earned a reputation for. They put on 10 performances across different parking lots and neighborhoods in Akron, exploring the many facets that make up the culture of voting.

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How cinema can become a catalyst for social change

Posted by Laura Briedis Tomko, Jan 10, 2020

While many people go to the theater to relax and be entertained after a busy day, the moviegoers at The Nightlight Cinema go there not to get away from it all—but instead are seeking community engagement. Opened in 2014 in Akron, Ohio, this art house’s mission is to create a place where cinema and community exist in tandem. Open nightly, it provides a classy nightspot where patrons can enjoy the cinematic art form and explore new ideas as part of a thoughtful community. For instance, after the screening of Inside Akron’s Tent City, a locally produced documentary that premiered at the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival, The Nightlight Cinema added extra show dates at its theater to keep the homelessness crisis at the forefront of people’s minds. The film resonated with the city in many ways and helped people empathize with those who are homeless.

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Business Spotlight: Advancing the Arts for Workplace and Community Cohesion

Posted by Kathy Romito, Nov 06, 2019

Through Akron Community Foundation’s “On the Table” conversation hosted at Western Reserve Hospital, we determined a need to address the lack of diverse artists and accessible art in the community. The arts proved to be a powerful way to forge meaningful connections by transcending barriers of class, race, gender, background, and so forth. The project brought people together in new ways that benefited the community by sharing the stories of historically marginalized voices. Moreover, displaying art in businesses served as an accessible entry point for those who might not feel welcomed or comfortable in traditional art spaces. This project also served as an economic driver by opening the local businesses to new markets and reinvigorating downtown Akron. By creating a map and social media hashtag, community members were exposed to new businesses on their journeys to view the artwork. At the end of the year, some of the businesses even created their own partnerships with artists and arts organizations to display work.

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Turning Your Community into a Classroom

Posted by Tessa Gaffney, Oct 31, 2019

Inspired by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a nationally recognized speaker and early childhood expert, Summit Education Initiative has started an Akron Play Book of its own. In collaboration with ArtsNow and The University of Akron’s EX[L] Center, SEI established an internship in which students were to design and implement simple, educational art installations that families with young children could interact with as they go about their daily activities. They would be installed in North Hill, a racially and ethnically diverse community, on September 8, 2019 during First Serve, an event that brings together over 800 individuals of different faiths and backgrounds to volunteer on service projects across the city alongside each other. Art doesn’t have to take place on a stage or in a gallery, with a clear boundary between art and audience. It can be an interruption from everyday life. It can instill lessons and develop skills. It can be a Laundromat theatre, or a grocery store card game, or even a bench.

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