By Sharon Gillberg, Downtown Akron Partnership
Downtown Akron’s arts district will be bustling with activity September 1 courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Downtown Akron Partnership. Three exciting arts initiatives, Downtown Akron Artwalk, Downtown Art Works, and Akron Art Prize will combine to spotlight Akron’s vibrant creative side.
The district, which due to Akron’s topography and history can be more likened to pockets than a corridor, is home to the monthly Downtown Akron Artwalk which invites Greater Akronites to discover the indie arts faces and places that define creative class at the core of the city. This event held the first Saturday of every month was started and continues to be fueled by the artists themselves with free trolley service provided by the City of Akron and coordination and promotion by the Downtown Akron Partnership.
The Downtown Art Works series created by Downtown Akron Partnership and sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation enhances the Artwalk footprint by connecting visitors to the district through added activity and performances. Live music, dance, performance art and interactive activities provided by local talent give audiences the chance to experience great artists in an up-close-and-personal, unplugged atmosphere. Talent featured includes appearances by guitarist Brian Feltner, singer/songwriter Zach, the UA Jazz Fusion Ensemble, a Percussion Discussion, Neos Dance Theatre, a lantern-making workshop and more. Neos also performed at the May Downtown Art Works event and enjoyed the freedom of dancing and interacting with the audience without the restriction of a “fourth wall”. Downtown Art Works nights are the only nights we know of in the area where enthusiasm and curiosity alone can fuel an impromptu duet with a professional dancer under the stars on a city street. Go on, try it! You know you want to.
Saturday also kicks off the opening of the Akron Art Prize competition, sponsored by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. More than 150 artists have entered work in the competition that features a $5,000 first prize and five, $1,000 runner-up awards. Winners will be determined by a public vote in two rounds using text-to-vote technology. The competition hopes to engage a new demographic of art audiences by empowering the vote to the public to determine what constitutes great art and encouraging the use of technology. Artists young and old, seasoned and amateur, and from a variety of disciplines have entered and are currently installing their work in the five spaces that will feature the competition.
Experience September 1 in the Downtown Akron arts district and understand firsthand how the arts revitalize communities and connect people in large and small ways every day.