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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Nominations Open for 2020 Arts and Business Partnership Awards!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Arts and Business Partnership Awards recognize businesses of all sizes and individual leaders for exceptional involvement with the arts that enriches the workplace, enhances education, and transform communities. Nominations for this year's awards close January 31, 2020.

Vans Custom Culture returns for 11th year supporting high school art programs

Registration for the 2020 program is open through Friday, Jan. 31

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

High school art students are invited to participate in the eleventh year of Vans Custom Culture, a program that provides high school artists and students a platform to embrace and showcase their creative abilities and the chance to win a grand prize of $75,000 for their school’s art program.

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 Committee for the Arts (BCA) Welcomes New Members

Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce Steve Sanner (Jiffy Lube of Indiana), Todd Simon (Omaha Steaks), Kelly Wicks (Grounds for Thought), and Barbara Wight (Taylor Guitars) will be joining the Business Committee for the Arts.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Business Committee for the Arts of Americans for the Arts is comprised of leaders who are passionate about the role the arts play in advancing business goals and transforming communities. Please join us in welcoming four business leaders as new members of the BCA. 

Americans for the Arts and Americans for the Arts Action Fund Issue Statement in Response to Passage of FY 2020 Spending Bills

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch released a statement in response to Tuesday’s vote of the U.S. House of Representatives on the FY 2020 spending bills, including five pro-arts appropriation items.  

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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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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Celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month with Americans for the Arts This October

Americans Are Encouraged to Explore the Role of Arts in Their Communities

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Americans for the Arts today announced its October celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, a coast-to-coast collective celebration of culture in America. During the month-long celebration, Americans for the Arts encourages people to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives. 

The Cincy Emerging Arts Leaders invite you to this year's Creative Conversation, "How is the Past Shaping the Future of the Arts in Your Community?" Panelists will discuss how the past has shaped the arts in their work with the community and how they are continuing to shape the future of the arts in Cincinnati.
9:00-9:30 AM: Coffee + Registration
9:30-10:30 AM: Panel Discussion
10:30-11:00 AM: Q&A, open discussion
o Quiera Levy-Smith, moderator
o Jamie-Lee Morris, Elementz
o Matthew Swanson, May Festival

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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Haslam 3 Foundation contributes $4.5 million for music education programs at three prominent Cleveland arts organizations

Friday, August 30, 2019

Dee and Jimmy Haslam

The Haslam 3 Foundation, funded by Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, is donating $4.5 million for education programs at three of Cleveland's most prominent arts organizations. The largest of the grants, for $2.5 million, will go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Receiving $1 million each are the Cleveland Orchestra and Playhouse Square.

Americans for the Arts Announces Annual Business Committee for the Arts Awards to Honor Exceptional Businesses and Leaders

Awardees to Be Honored on October 3 at Gala in New York City

Monday, August 19, 2019


Americans for the Arts today announced the recipients of this year’s national Arts and Business Partnership Awards, recognizing 10 U.S. companies, a business leader, and an arts and business partnership for their exceptional commitment to the arts. The awards will be presented by Americans for the Arts on October 3, 2019, at a black-tie gala at The Central Park Boathouse in New York City.

Americans for the Arts Issues Statement in Response to Senate’s Approval of Mary Anne Carter to Chair NEA

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Mary Anne Carter. Courtesy of National Endowment for the Arts.

Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch offered a statement in response to today's Senate’s approval of Mary Anne Carter to chair the National Endowment for the Arts for a four-year term.


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