The ongoing Downtown Art Works series launched by the Downtown Akron Partnership with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation continues to gain momentum as the deadline nears for entries for the first Akron Art Prize competition. The energy that surrounded the first Downtown Art Works event on May 5, 2012 has generated a wave across the arts community garnering greater collaboration from local arts entities and attracting the attention of new partners in the process.
NEOS Dance Theatre was invited to perform at the May Art Works through a search for talent willing to be flexible, creative, improvisational and fun. Through this first time encounter Downtown Akron Partnership and Neos have formed an organic relationship that continues to blossom, leading both to new opportunities to promote and grow one another’s work. DAP hopes to partner with Neos again at the March Downtown Art Works (if not before) with a unique Artigras performance.
The increased communication with the local arts district has led to better communication addressing the needs of both DAP and resident arts entities. The newly relocated Akron Symphony reached out to DAP to assist in locating its remaining Knight funded Random Acts of Culture. DAP was able to facilitate a connection between the Symphony and Downtown business hubs like the Shoppes at Akron Centre and JSK Cafe as well as their appearance at the June Art Walk. It just keeps getting better, and what FUN we are having!
This Is Akron creator Kurt Reed has also gravitated to the Art Works scene as he plans to bring the added value of his talented line up of locally based bands to the September 1 event. The combination of cross promotion to new audiences and mutually-added services like trolley service to concert-goers and food and beverage service to Art Walk attendees demonstrates the significant rewards of collaboration.
New artistic relationships and the search for an adequate location for an outdoor stage bring a whole new level of collaboration from Downtown’s daytime business anchors as well. DAP is asking for cooperation from the County of Summit, the Port Authority and the Austen BioInnovation Institute for the use of the “Trolley Barn” to house performances to create a pedestrian corridor that links the Northside district to arts venues that feel isolated on High Street. The Barn, a circa 1917 three story metal structure once served as Akron’s light rail depot is currently used for day time parking. DAP sees it as an opportunity to showcase the advancements of the neighborhood in an unconventional, fun and urban atmosphere. A public, outdoor stage in the space will create a perfect protected social space that can accommodate a larger critical mass to showcase performing talent and announce the opening and winners of the Akron Art Prize competition.
The competition, sponsored by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, segues nicely into the Art Works framework, encouraging participation from amateur to established artists seeking to gain exposure, compete for prize money, or just have a little fun. The winners of the competition, which is open to the public for entry, will be decided by a public vote via text to vote (SMS) technology. Borrowing from the successful models used in cities across America, Akron Art Prize hopes to introduce a new playing field for artistic competition in Akron. Already rich in opportunities for traditional juried shows, Akron Art Prize brings a “by the people, for the people” vibe to the Akron community that invites a new audience to participate in and share their opinions about the arts. Entrants must register by July 6 to participate. Details available at www.downtownakron.com/enjoy/akron-art-prize.