What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?
I have memories of my Dad playing piano, family hikes in metro parks, museum and zoo trips, and the first time my class made a field trip to hear the Toledo Symphony perform in the auditorium of the Toledo Art Museum. My first memory of participating in arts and culture in Akron though is visiting the Akron Zoo while we still lived in Warren, OH with our young kids. That trip was one of the reasons we considered moving to Akron.
How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
Every aspect of how I intersect with the community is impacted by arts, culture, and environment. From the amazing natural resources of the Metro Parks, CVNP, and various city parks, to the diverse food, music, and visual art of individual artists, small businesses, and organizations of our county, my daily life is enriched by the beauty and expression of those that make up the fabric of Summit County. I live in North Hill where parts of the neighborhood are bordered by the Cuyahoga River and a magnificent tree canopy. I have been fortunate enough to have days that started with a trip to the zoo and ended with a night watching the Ohio Shakespeare Festival or catching a great act at Blu Jazz. Even during this difficult time in our world with a global pandemic, there are virtual opportunities and other events that are mindful of social distancing that allow us to interact with art and culture. And now, more than ever, our public spaces and parks are key resources.
Why do arts and culture matter to you?
The arts provide both form and the function of not only individual expression, but reflecting and shaping social norms and beliefs. Our understanding of ourselves, our relationships, our communities, and our systems are both shared and carved out in our interactions with art and culture. Fundamental social change depends on this dance between how we want to see ourselves and our communities and how we are. Without that tension between reflection and refraction, we would stagnate as a community. Providing support as not just a consumer, but as a volunteer, and financially when possible, is important to me and my family given how precarious the work is of individual artists and organizations.
What is your favorite spot to shop local? Why?
We try to shop local as much as possible, so I really hate to call out one when there are so many fantastic shops, restaurants, and services in Summit County.
What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
Growing up, I lived in Michigan just over the border from Toledo, OH. While Toledo has some beautiful metro parks, it is very flat. Our family used to drive to southern Ohio, West Virginia, and further south through the Smoky Mountains to experience what we thought were more exciting landscapes. When I moved to Akron 14 years ago, I was surprised and impressed by the diversity of topography and the beauty. While my husband and I were house hunting, we would take our then young kids for hikes at Summit Metro Park’s Goodyear Heights, Gorge, and Cascade parks to run off some of their energy between house tours. When we settled on our current home in North Hill, I remember us pointing from the Overlook at Cascade Metro Park to the other side of the valley and telling our children our house is right over there. It is still one of my favorite views. I am lucky enough to walk through our neighborhood and catch the sunset from our side of the valley now looking out toward Overlook most evenings of the summer.
Who is a patron or supporter of arts and culture in Summit County who you admire?
Bronlynn Thurman is an artist in a number of mediums, a writer, a program officer for a foundation, a volunteer, and a strong advocate and patron of arts, culture, and the environment in Summit County. She demonstrates her commitment to artists, organizations, and the community in both quiet and public ways. Her perspective on the interaction of individuals and systems inspires and challenges me. I admire her work as an artist, a thinker, a writer, a professional, and as a patron of arts and culture in Summit County and I aspire to be as thoughtful and proactive in my support for arts and culture in Summit County as she is.
What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
The next five years will be very difficult for us due to the global pandemic, economic instability, and the need for dramatic societal change particularly in addressing systemic racism. My hope is that the artists, organizations, and businesses that make up the fabric of our arts and culture in Summit County will weather these destabilizing times and my wish is for the fabric of arts and culture to continue to reflect, inform, and transform our community.