Arts & Culture Patron: Karen Cheung

Karen Cheung, Grants Accountant, Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties

What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture in Summit County? 
I remember when I first moved to Akron for grad school 15 years ago, I didn’t know what fun things there were to do in town.  But I heard about the Broadway in Akron series at EJ Thomas Hall.  The very first show I saw was Hairspray and it blew me away.  This musical was so inspirational – the music, the energy, the important message it conveyed – it really spoke to me.  Hairspray is still one my favorite musicals today.  I’ve continued to patron musicals and other shows at EJ Thomas Hall and Akron Civic Theater throughout the years.  The act of sitting in an audience watching a live show where everyone is laughing at the same joke or being entranced by the speaker’s story is such an invigorating, livening and wonderful way to appreciate and experience the expression of art.  

What artist, cultural organization, or experience do you wish more people knew about in Summit County? S
Summit Artspace is a really cool space. I’ve been able to see some of their exhibits on the first floor and even been to various events held at their upper level where they rent their space out to different organizations. It’s a great space and I love that they support local artists.

What is your favorite spot to shop local? Why?
I have several favorites spots. One of them is the Northside Marketplace. I like the convenience of having all of my favorite local vendors in one place. I also love checking out vendor craft fairs like Akron Arts Expo at Hardesty Park and Crafty Mart’s holiday event held over Thanksgiving weekend. I enjoy walking around admiring the different forms of art like I would at a museum and I get my Christmas shopping done too – it’s the best of both worlds. Also, Don Drumm is a very unique spot for shopping. Their decorations during the holidays are so whimsical. 

What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
I’ve taken advantage of the good weather and went hiking at the Summit Metro Parks. I’ve made the most trips to the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm this summer and I love the beautiful views overlooking Seneca Pond. In previous years, I have taken yoga classes offered by Summit Metro Parks on the Seneca deck and I’ve always enjoyed looking out at the peaceful pond as I exercise. I hope to discover more of these beautiful, natural views so my goal this year is to participate in the Fall Hiking Spree by hiking eight Summit Metro Parks trails. 

Why do you feel exposure and participation in arts, culture, and/or environment are important for students and young people in Summit County?
I think that art, music, theater and similar programs in schools provide a productive medium for students and young people to express their own creativity. Not all students can relate to the traditional school subjects like math and science, but if they find an interest in a musical instrument or a theater production or other art program maybe this will be the drive to get them interested in school. It will be a great way to cultivate their talent, develop their skills, and maybe even grow into a career.

What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
I’ve seen really cool murals and green space pop up in spots all over downtown Akron. It is a really great way to make art accessible to the community. I hope to see more of this spread out through all of Summit County into different communities.