Taking the New pARTnership Movement on the Road

Posted by Jessica Stern, Oct 24, 2019

Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to Akron, Ohio to participate in meetings with local leaders and present a half-day professional development training on the basics of the pARTnership Movement, a program of Americans for the Arts which demonstrates that by partnering with the arts, businesses can gain a competitive edge. The pARTnership Movement offers language, resources, and case studies to help arts leaders “speak business.” It illustrates to the business community why they should be active partners with the arts, and how they can support the arts in myriad ways in addition to cash resources. As well as providing online resources and tools, the pARTnership Movement serves as a professional development opportunity for local communities to bring Americans for the Arts to you to train nonprofits and meet with business and community leaders.

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From Passion to Business

Posted by Patricia Nugent, Oct 22, 2019

In the past, we saw art as a passion—not a business. But today, with the popularity of online shopping sites like Etsy and the growing number of community arts and craft shows, more and more artists are creating a thriving business from their art. Couple that with more creative outlets for musicians and actors, and it’s no wonder why dynamic arts communities are scattered throughout the country with growing opportunities for artists to become entrepreneurs. To help support and guide artists in Akron, Ohio, Summit Artspace is helping these highly right-brained individuals with the business side of things. In fact, evolving with the needs of the artists, this nonprofit community art center organization is revamping its strategic plan and mission in 2020 to focus on connecting artists and artist-serving organizations to the community and to the resources they need to thrive professionally, creatively, and financially.

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The Stairway to Dance Innovation

Posted by Patricia Nugent, Oct 09, 2019

Sometimes the inspiration for a sensational idea can be as simple as looking out your window and seeing a city on the rise. For Bobby Wesner, co-founder and artistic director of NEOS Dance Theatre, the city of Akron, Ohio, and its upward trajectory served as seed for his highly imaginative concept: “Akron Ascending, an Identity in Dance.” Preparing site-specific works on iconic staircases throughout downtown Akron to develop an ongoing public conversation between artists, dancers, and space was so out-of-the-box inventive, it earned him a win from the Knight Arts Challenge in September 2019. With a prize of $30,000, Wesner plans to turn his idea into reality by hiring dancers, researching interesting and appropriate staircases, and running social media and advertising campaigns to invite the public.

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Creative Conversations Take on National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Oct 08, 2019

Creative Conversations are on fire! This year’s Creative Conversation theme, How is the past shaping the future of the arts?, is sparking dialogue across the country. So, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is a Creative Conversation anyway?” Well, I’ve got an answer for you! Creative Conversations gather together arts and community leaders to discuss local arts, culture, and creativity. These conversations help to foster cross-sector and inter-sector partnerships and promote increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts during National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) in October. Creative Conversations can take on many forms. They can be informal brown-bag lunches with colleagues, professional development workshops, panel sessions with politicians, and even full-day symposia. Participants have learned about the state of their local arts and culture industry, explored new ideas to strengthen their community with the arts, and ignited connections that spurred movement and actions that work to ensure everyone has access to the transformative power of the arts.

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Children living in shelters find a caring, nurturing place at Magical Theatre Company

Posted by Laura Briedis Tomko, Oct 04, 2019

You never know when that “aha” moment might strike. For Magical Theatre Company in Barberton, Ohio, it happened 22 years ago when co-producing director Holly Barkdoll walked across the street prior to a performance to get change for the box office. Always inside the theater readying for performances, she never really saw the people coming to their shows, so she was surprised to find a line of people wrapped around the building. How wonderful, she thought, that the show was going to sell out. But then she realized that the line actually was going to the building next door—a local soup kitchen. At that moment, it struck her: while some families were waiting in line to see a play and be entertained, others were just trying to survive and find a meal. That moment inspired her and her husband, co-producing director Dennis O’Connell, to use their theater as an outreach to help disadvantaged children in Northeast Ohio.

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Inclusion and Accessibility for Performers With Disabilities

Posted by Wendy Duke, Sep 16, 2019

Many performing arts groups and venues are working towards inclusion of their whole communities—both on-stage and in the audience. Today we’re beginning to see special performances and additional accommodations for audience members with disabilities. This movement towards inclusion can include toned-down lighting, sound, and special effects to accommodate people with autism. It may involve sign language interpreters and captioning devices to assist deaf audience members, or large type or Braille programs and audio descriptions on headphones for a deeper understanding of what is happening on stage for those with vision challenges. But inclusion doesn’t stop at the audience. It includes the stage, as well.

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