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$450,000 in Summit County arts grants announced

 The Akron Art Museum in Downtown Akron.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
The Akron Art Museum is receiving $25,000 in ArtsForward grant support for its Creative Aging Institute.

Angry cows, ghosts and bipolar butterflies are the names of just some of the projects being funded by Summit County’s arts advocacy agency ArtsNow. The group announced about $450,000 in grants on Tuesday to greater Akron arts and culture nonprofits and artists.

It’s the first year for ArtsForward grants, which is guided by goals from the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan, including advocating for K-12 arts programing and encouraging investment in public art projects.

ArtsNow executive director Nicole Mullet said that matching funds from the Knight Foundation will allow them to award close to $2 million over the next four years. This year’s recipients were chosen by a panel of artists, community members and funders.

“The projects that were submitted were thoughtful,” she said. “They would have all advanced the cultural plan and that committee had a really tough job.”

One of the goals of the cultural plan is supporting art which speaks to mental health challenges and Summit County’s aging population.

“It’s an interesting time to be looking at how our arts community has been rallying around mental health and how we can continue to do that when we add a bit of resources to the mix,” she said. “There's a myriad of studies and resources out there that are telling us… when you're talking about trauma recovery or aging, the power and healing that is available through art.”

Aging in Akron

One project focused on aging is “West Akron Through Time,” a series of mini documentaries about aging Black residents on Akron’s West Side. Filmmaker Tyron Hoisten said he was partly inspired by stories from his great-grandparents about coming north to work in Akron’s rubber industry during the Great Migration. They’ve passed away, and Hoisten hopes to capture similar stories before it’s too late.

“It's about interviewing people to get their stories,” he said. “Who they are, what brought them to Akron and how they… became a patch in the giant quilt that is Akron. The basis of this is an African proverb: ‘When an elder dies, a library closes.’”

ArtsNow plans to announce additional grants for individual artists before the end of 2023. Mullet plans to open next year’s grant process earlier, possibly in early spring. Funding also comes from the Akron Community Foundation, Burton D. Morgan Foundation and GAR Foundation.

2024 grants approved

Angry Cow Poetry in the Rialto Living Room

Keith Allison, $2,000


Music for All

Eri Snowden-Rodriguez, $5,000


Morgan Park Mural

Akron Parks Collaborative, $8,000


Branding the Downtown Barberton Arts and Entertainment District

Main Street Barberton, $9,840


Peninsula Art Academy 20th Anniversary –Building for the Future

Peninsula Art Academy, $10,000


Say It Loud

Millennial Theatre Project, $10,000


Therapeutic Theater

Makeshift Theater, Inc., $14,594


Dynamite Duos, dancers with disabilities program

ArtSparks, $15,000


West Akron Through Time

Tyron Hoisten, $15,000


Proyecto Letras: Literary Voices of Akron Youth

Proyecto RAÍCES, $16,250

Funded in partnership with Summit County ADM Board



Micah Kraus, $17,337


The Accessibility Library


Funded in partnership with Summit DD


Assuage HER

J. Travis, $25,000

Funded in partnership with County of Summit Executive’s Office, Community Development Block Grant Funds


Bipolar Butterfly Unify

Kimmy Henderson, $25,000

Funded in partnership with Summit County ADM Board


Community Paste Up Wall

Collide Cuyahoga Falls, $20,000


Qu in Recovery

QuTheatr, $20,000


“We do it for the Water”

The Lippman School, $20,000

Funded in partnership with County of Summit Executive’s Office


Skin Color

Althea Jones, $21,400


Reflection Series

The Chameleon Village Theatre Collective, $24,500


Ghosts in the Magic City

Magical Theatre Company, $25,000


Artist Advancement: Unleashing Creativity, Self-Care, and Inclusive Leadership

Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, $25,000


The Nightlight Website Rebuild and Accessibility Initiative

The Nightlight Cinema, $25,000


Helping Artists Thrive: "Artist Care" Services

Summit Artspace, $25,000


Creative Aging Institute at the Akron Art Museum

Akron Art Museum, $25,000


Shadows to Light: Revealing Bhutanese Refugee Resilience

Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, $25,000

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.