A tag to organize a series of blogs from the Summit County, Ohio membership cohort (established Sept 2019).

The Intersection of Place and Process

Posted by Christy Bolingbroke, Feb 26, 2021

As the second choreographic center of its kind in the country, NCCAkron often asks what it means to be a “national” center that is neither in the physical center of the country nor the perceived center of the dance universe. Being based in Akron affords us (and by extension, the artists with whom we work) the emotional, mental, and physical space to create from a place of abundance inherent to our Northeast Ohio stomping grounds. Being national in our scope allows us to stretch—to engage artists from all over, to hold even more capacity for ideas larger than ourselves, and to be the connective thread between communities. We refer to this as operating in both the hyperlocal and the national spaces. I felt a spirit of possibility immediately upon arrival in Akron, and try to underline it in everything we do.

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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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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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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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