Akron Civic Theatre’s Howard Parr Receives Ohio Governor’s Award

Howard Parr [image courtesy Akron Civic Theatre]
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Behind-the-scenes work isn’t always recognized, but this week Akron Civic Theatre Executive Director Howard Parr receives the Ohio Governor’s Award for arts administration.

Never a performer, Parr said a college gig as a volunteer stagehand sparked his interest in entertainment production.

“I worked the very first show, which happened to be the rock band Cheap Trick,” he said. “I fell in love with what was happening that day and how, no matter how crazy things were, the reality was at 8 o’clock the band was going to start playing.”

The Akron Civic Theatre offers both national and local programming, with an emphasis on the later.

“There’s only so many [national shows] to go around, and if all we did was focus on those shows we’d have a building that sat empty 80 percent of the time,” Parr said. 

Upcoming national acts include Diana Krall, Alison Krauss and Lewis Black.

The theater hosts about 200 events a year, Parr said.

The Millennial Theatre Project is one of the community theater groups performing regularly at the Civic, including four shows this summer. The group targets younger adults and grew out of Akron’s All-City Musical, which features a cast of high school students.

In 2001, Parr oversaw major restoration work of the theater. Built in 1929, the architect designed the interior with a Moorish Castle in mind. That restoration project stopped short of the lobby and the entry arcade. There are plans to move forward with that work with funding in part from the state.

Outside the Civic, the Bowery Project plans to redevelop nearby buildings and create apartments and retail space. Additionally, the city plans to improve Main Street.

“There’s just a huge focus on our area of downtown right now, and we’re thrilled to be right in the middle of it.”

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