Skip to main content


Glass Half Full Award: Honoring Nicole Mullet

Nicole Mullet

GAR Foundation is honored to present Nicole Mullet, executive director of ArtsNow, with the 2020 Glass Half Full Award. The Glass Half Full award was initially created to honor GAR’s former president Rob Briggs. The award annually recognizes a Summit County community leader for inspiring and optimistic leadership of a nonprofit organization.

In her role as the founding executive director of ArtsNow, Nicole collaborates with local leaders and organizations to advocate for the arts and culture sector, connects local talent to resources, and leads a team that promotes the diverse catalog of arts and culture offerings across multiple platforms to Summit County residents.

Personally, Nicole is a grateful and proud daughter of Steve and Linda, sister to Josh, Jackie, Adam, Andy, and Sabrina, and aunt to Lyla, Mia, Jack, and Penelope. She has also retained rights to the title of “Funniest Mullet since 1994 except for a brief time in his mid-20’s when Adam was clearly being fed lines.”

In our interview with Nicole, we wanted to learn more about her work, her life, and why her glass is always half full.

Tell us about ArtsNow:

ArtsNow, a local arts agency serving Summit County, celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2020. Perhaps there was no better year for us to gratefully receive this award—as an organization built by and for the community, developing authentic connection within arts and culture and across sectors is core to our mission.

2020 was a year that demanded, to best serve our community, that silos and systems come toppling down and sectors work together. ArtsNow was founded on the knowledge that we are at our very best when the arts are organically threaded throughout the foundation of our society. No civilization has ever crumbled for investing too much in education or the arts.

ArtsNow will advance and expand our work as a thoughtful and responsive connector. We will continue to help our community find its character and potential, to open channels of communication, and to turn up the volume on the incredible work of our creative sector.

Of what ArtsNow initiative(s) are you most proud?

I am passionately and immensely proud of the work that resulted in Akron’s Cultural Plan and am looking forward to the next phase- implementation. This is a strategic vision for our city created by the residents of Akron and it is an honor to support and shepherd this work and the priorities that will require all of us to advance. If you aren’t sure how to engage with this process, reach out to ArtsNow. It would be a privilege to help you find your place of ownership in the work.

Tell us something about your job that inspires you to keep working there.

I love connecting our artists, businesses, and organizations with other industries, regions, and resources that are to the benefit of all. The moment when it clicks with a potential partner that there is a significant and real role the arts can play in advancing their work is both fun and meaningful.

What is the last thing that delighted you or brought you joy?

My nieces and nephew. Watching them grow-up is a joy and a privilege I don’t take for granted. From Lyla’s (10) extraordinary talent and passion for dance, to Mia (7) fearlessly hurling herself down a tumbling mat with a smile, to Jack (5) who will every now and then slow down enough to cuddle, to Penelope (2) whose current obsession are stories featuring zombies, werewolves, and vampires. I am blessed with smart, kind, kids in my life that never cease to amaze me. Their parents are clearly doing something very right.

Those of you who know me well and enjoy an almost constant stream of stories and pictures are aware of how challenging it was to avoid writing a novella on these kids.

What TV show best describes your professional life?

Parks and Rec. I’m not actually sure that I need to explain this one.

If you could have only one beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Fizzy water. I have taken my SodaStream on vacation, buckled into the front seat.

Why is your glass always half full?

I can’t admit to always seeing my glass as half full, but in those moments of weariness and doubt, I find helpers will always show up- if you choose to see them and open that door.

2020 was a year of worry for the health and care of family and community, a year that demanded action more than words, a year that forced us to look at the ugliest parts of ourselves—but it was also a year I saw people find ways large and small to help our most vulnerable, a year when divisions between sectors came tumbling down in order to better serve our community, and year when I saw colleagues, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers show grace and kindness beyond measure. I saw our community work tirelessly- behind the scenes and out in front submitting themselves to scrutiny.