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ArtsForward: Funding to Advance Arts and Culture Priorities in Summit County

Arts Forward

Rob Lehr, Senior Program Officer

In the spring of 2020, we celebrated the official launch of the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan – an arts and culture roadmap created by, with, and for our community. ArtsNow, the local arts and culture agency serving Summit County, and, Designing Local, a city planning firm, conducted over 100 individual stakeholder interviews, conducted dozens of focus groups, held roundtables and conversations across our community and collected paper and electronic surveys to inform the planning process of the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan.

Akron Cultural Plan

Photo by: Aimee Juarez, Himalayan Music Academy Dancers

ArtsNow received resources from GAR Foundation and Knight Foundation to work with the City of Akron, artists, cultural organizations, regional experts, and community residents to collect data and public input to inform the Cultural Plan. Today, the ten key priorities of the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan are a “north star” for our arts and culture sector. That’s why GAR Foundation is excited to announce a new initiative that will advance the recommendations from the cultural plan to the next level: ArtsForward.

Community Priorities Info graphic123 graphic

What is ArtsForward?

ArtsForward is a grant program operated by ArtsNow that will provide resources to support projects and programs that move the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan’s ten key priorities forward. GAR Foundation, Akron Community Foundation, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and Knight Foundation came together to create this special ArtsForward fund managed by ArtsNow and informed by community partners. Project ideas can be submitted from anywhere in Summit County but must be attached to a specific priority and impact Summit County communities. Applications are open from June 1 - June 30, 2023. Nonprofits can request up to $25,000. Artist entrepreneurs are welcome to apply but will need a nonprofit partner to serve as a fiscal sponsor.

What’s the application process?

ArtsForward is a two-phased application process coordinated by ArtsNow.

  • Round One: Applications for round one are now closed. Applicants will be notified of their submission status in mid-August. If you have questions about this opportunity, please reach out to [email protected].
  • Round Two: The application will require additional details for applicants approved to move on to the second round. The strategic community investment committee will want to ensure your partners are secured, a budget is developed and finalized, and a timeline is complete.

Who is choosing what grants will be accepted?

ArtsForward's distribution committee consists of respected artists, community leaders, and Summit County residents who will ensure that the program's investments align with the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan's key priorities. This commitment to community involvement and engagement makes our community a special place to live and work.

Learn More

Arts Forward Website