2013 KnightArts Akron grants via Knight Foundation on Flickr
Today, we are excited to celebrate new investments in the Akron arts scene, with $750,000 in support to 14 organizations exploring ways to engage new audiences while maintaining our community’s history of artistic excellence.
This year has been one of creativity in Akron. Rising artists are creating new ventures: NEOS Dance Director Bobby Wesner expanded his company, and Akron Film+Pixel director Steve Felix will open an independent cinema. In addition, cultural mainstays, including the Akron Symphony, are experimenting – in the symphony’s case by melding professional musicians and local dance companies in a production of The Rite of Spring.
As my colleague Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s Vice President for Arts, told the Akron Beacon Journal: “You start to see this kind of organic bubbling in Akron and we get excited about that, because it shows that there are things happening in the community at the grassroots level…We want to look for and provide fuel for that organic momentum.”
The grants also build on our $1 million in support to the Akron Art Museum over the past year, which will help that institution engage a broader audience.
The arts are an important part of Akron’s vibrancy. Their evolution will help keep new and loyal audiences engaged, and strengthen the sense of community we are known for. I’m looking forward to seeing how the projects listed below develop.
Akron Film+Pixel, $120,000: To satisfy the community’s appetite for independent film by launching the city’s first and only digital art house cinema. Akron Film+Pixel will transform an existing building into a single-screen, 60-seat venue called The Nightlight, featuring daily programming that provides Akron residents with independent and foreign films in their own backyard.
Tuesday Musical Association, $40,000: To inspire the next generation of musicians by inviting local students to participate in a composition workshop with world-famous banjo player Bela Fleck and string quartet Brooklyn Rider. The November workshop will be open to the public to encourage more people to get involved in the arts.
City of Akron, $60,000: To bring Akron together through the arts via the city’s summer cultural programs, which attract more than 220,000 people each year to free concerts, festivals and community events at Lock 3. The grant also supports the 40-year tradition of free ballet through the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival and the Lock 3 Summer Arts Experience for 65 high school arts apprentices.
Keepers of the Art, $15,000: To raise social consciousness through “true school” hip-hop music and culture, by expanding the group’s annual showcase weekend. Plans include taping the showcase’s “Teen Forum” TV program, where teens and studio guests talk about issues such as popular culture, education, mental health and more.
GroundWorks DanceTheater, $15,000: To bring dance theater to life for Akron residents by launching “It’s Your Move,” a video project that features GroundWorks dancers and community members demonstrating a dance move, and inviting viewers to respond with their own. GroundWorks will take the project to events around Northeast Ohio to collect dance moves from a variety of people.
Greater Akron Musical Association, $90,000: To bring the community together around a collaborative performance, by presenting Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” featuring the Akron Symphony Shakespeare Players, Cuyahoga Youth Ballet, the Summit Children’s Choir and local actors from the greater Akron community. In addition, the association will work with local libraries and schools to organize a community-wide reading project centered on the play.
Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshops, $100,000: To provide extensive training in the performing arts for the youngest residents of Cascade Village, where a Knight-funded effort is working to improve life skills and build relationships among community members. The students then engage their neighbors in the arts through performances that highlight their newly developed talents in dance, drama, voice and more.
Cleveland International Film Festival, $75,000, to present “A Day and Knight in Akron,” which brings the festival and its culturally significant films to the city for a day, in March 2014. The event will be paired with a community discussion and mini-festival for high school students where the selections are linked to school curriculums.
Downtown Akron Partnership, $20,000: To enliven Akron’s urban core by launching Downtown Live and Local, a series of art events in the Downtown Special Improvement District. It will bring both new and established artists together in unusual spaces for authentic, social experiences in music, film performance and visual art.
Cleveland Modern Dance Association, $25,000: To provide Akron students the chance to work with professional dancers through two residencies, including one by Philadelphia’s BalletX that took place earlier this month. Another will take place in the spring.
Neos Dance Theater, $25,000: To support the growth of this emerging dance company by building its repertoire through new works from well-known contemporary choreographers.
Weathervane Community Playhouse, $45,000: to use the arts to address race issues, by expanding the playhouse’s community engagement initiative. Weathervane will present two plays new to Akron—David Mamet’s Race and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park—commission a third, and pair them with community discussions.
Community Hall Foundation, $100,000: To provide a space for local artists to perform and support the foundation by producing 110 events over the next two years at the Akron Civic Theatre. Support will continue the successful All-City Musical, featuring high school students, the Jazz@The Civic Series, family-friendly events and more.
Alchemy, Inc., $20,000: To use mythology and art-making to assist urban male youth in thinking creatively and analytically about their own lives. Alchemy will host workshops on mask-making, talisman creation and painting over the course of two years, engaging the youth in conversations about how they perceive themselves, and culminating in a final project.