What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?
The earliest memory I have is of attending a Festa Junina in São Paulo with my extended family. There was live music and dancing and set a bar for fun. Even today listening to live music and dancing to live music is a favorite experience. It also set a standard for how I think music should be enjoyed. Small intimate settings let me connect to the music in a way that huge arenas can never match.
I moved to Akron when I was 16 and my first artistic experience here was a concert at Blossom. Clearly a little larger than intimate but still approachable. It brings together two things that I love: live music and beautiful natural settings.
How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
I am lucky to say that I can enjoy the arts while also doing my job. In my work life I am the Director of Development for the City of Akron and spend my days figuring out how to grow the economy of Akron. I learned very early on that the local and national economy flourish when the arts, culture and environmental aspects of our world are strong.
In 2018, the US exported $49 billion in intellectual property (music, movies, books, television, and software). That is the third largest service sector export for us. If you aren’t sure why that is important, I can put on my econ-professor hat and remind you that imports reduce the value of our economy and exports add to our economy. Every dollar of arts that are sold in our community and exported to other communities is a dollar that circulates here in Akron.
When I talk to non-art related businesses about why they should grow here in Akron, I talk about the benefits to the company and their employees. On that list is always the CVNRA, the Summit County Metro Park system, our incredibly rich live music, museums, and venues, all as opportunities for enjoyment.
Why is it so important to you/your family to support arts and culture? Why do arts and culture matter to you?
My family and I both love to enjoy the artistic efforts of others and take much joy in turning our own hands to creating beauty around us.
What is your favorite spot to shop local? Why?
I have to name two. Blu is a cozy little jazz venue in downtown Akron. I love nothing more than to head down there to meet friends and listen to some great artists in really comfortable setting. I go there to consume the experience. And Harps and Thistles Yarn & Gift Emporium is fabulous yarn store in downtown Cuyahoga Falls. Walking into that place my senses are filled with riotous color and luxurious feeling of the fibers that are available. This is where I get to indulge my own desire to create through textile arts.
What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
I love to sit on the balcony at the Mustard Seed Café facing east or west and watching people go back and forth to the different businesses. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be able to catch a local musician busking on the sidewalk on a Friday evening.
Who is a patron or supporter of arts and culture in Summit County who you admire?
Emery Leuchtag is a man on his third career. He was an orthopedic surgeon, then an attorney and currently the US director of an Italian manufacturing firm. He and his wife, Holly, have a home filled with beautiful art. They are patrons of art locally, when they travel, and support small business whenever possible.
What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
I hope that the Akron Cultural Plan is fully embraced by the community and that funding sources for all of our public goals are found. I’ve been able to work a bit on the Public Art priority and would love to see the other priorities each gain a local champion.
Why do you feel exposure and participation in arts, culture, and/or environment are important for students and young people in Summit County?
I feel strongly that students need to be pushed to excel in all academics. Science and math without imagination creates engineers who can carry out a complex task but are not problem solvers. Musicians who don’t understand basic business principles can’t figure out how to make a living.
Our children need to be in our parks exploring the different shapes of blades of grass, soaking up our forests and taking those inspirations to compose music or paint a watercolor and then understand the math behind harmonies and scales. That adult will be our next Ada Lovelace, Steve Jobs, Marie Curie, Einstein, Sheryl Sandberg, or Tony Hsieh.