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Akron’s First State of the Arts



On Thursday, December 9, 2021, Akron Roundtable will host the very first State of the Arts, and I have the honor and the considerable responsibility to share an update on the status of the arts and culture sector. To say that this is no small feat is a vast understatement given the cultural assets and creative talent that call Summit County home, but I can think of no better way to end 2021 than highlighting the work my colleagues undertake on behalf of our community.

Our community’s arts and culture industry has long punched above its weight in delivering high-quality experiences for individuals and families, engaging and educating our young people, and creating a community that attracts and retains a talented workforce. The ability for a community to sell its merits to business and talent is increasingly dependent on the work of arts and culture in a world where 76% of workers polled in Citrix’s Work 2035 project believe that employees will be more likely to pursue jobs in locations that provide out-of-work experiences and entertainment – even if it means taking a pay cut.

In 2019, our community underwent a cultural planning process that deeply engaged residents and visitors to greater Akron. Together, we all engaged in a community-wide, collaborative cultural planning process to evaluate existing arts, cultural, and environmental resources while also examining the needs and desires of all residents. This plan was never intended to sit on a coffee table – although it is, of course, aesthetically pleasing. It is a plan in motion with priorities and strategies to advance our community by leveraging arts and culture. It is a plan that was authored and is being implemented by our residents and community members.

It is also fitting that this inaugural event will be held in-person at Quaker Square, given The University of Akron President Gary Miller’s May announcement of the University’s initiative, appropriately called AkronArts – an important initiative intended to embrace and enhance arts on-campus and in Greater Akron.

The alignment of both AkronArts and the Cultural Plan is setting us up for success and with execution well underway, I look forward to sharing stories of great success as well as highlighting the work ahead.  Work that we, as a community who values arts and culture, are well-positioned to advance.
I hope you will join me on December 9th for State of the Arts. You will leave inspired and energized by individuals, organizations, and small businesses who are investing in our community and driving forward progress. (And we may have a few surprises in store…we are the creative sector, after all.)