photo of ren camacho

Arts & Culture Patron: Ren Camacho

What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?
My family and I have been hiking the various trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) for many years. The trails are beautiful, rewarding, and where one can easily (re)discover nature. In addition, the Summit Metro Parks also offer scenic hikes for the family. In addition, when I arrived to the Akron-Canton Airport in 2018, one of the first field trips was an all-day Leadership Akron tour of the city. We visited the Akron Civic Theater, Canal Park, and rest of the Bowery District. There was very inspiring artwork along the way, with delicious food to try from local restaurants.

How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
Part of my job at Akron-Canton Airport frequently requires interaction with companies, chambers, and other economic development groups in Summit County. Many times, the meetings and events that I attend will take place near key cultural institutions like the Akron Civic Theater, Lock 3, John S. Knight Center, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Knowing that one can conduct business nearby and then attend such venues afterward to relax or relieve stress is so important to my state of mind. Having coffee at Angel Falls Coffee, pizza at Luigi’s, or dinner downtown at Crave reaffirms that I can help small businesses continue to thrive.

What artist, cultural organization, or experience do you wish more people knew about in Summit County?
Don Drumm does not get the national recognition and credit he deserves for his community-driven artistic efforts; his talents are unlike any I’ve seen with those work who with metal sculpture on a consistent basis. For ‘organizations’, the Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau does an amazing job at managing the operations of the John S. Knight Center and Greystone. There are so many intricacies, coordination efforts, and logistics involved with running these venues for year-round events, along with all of the other hospitality offerings in Summit County. Gregg Mervis and his team are amazing at their craft(s) to ensure these facilities run, and events occur, successfully. As an ‘experience’, I would say Summit Metro Parks stands out to me. The Park gets largely overshadowed by CVNP, yet has some of the more beautiful, challenging, and fulfilling trails that I’ve experienced.

Why is it so important to you/your family to support arts and culture? Why do arts and culture matter to you?
Arts and culture provides a break from the monotony of the day-to-day rigors of work. Whether a local craft fair, coffee shop, hike, RubberDucks game, or concert at Blossom Music Center, such ‘distractions’ play an important role in allowing a positive reset to my frame of mind. The overall health of a community is improved. These types of events bring comfort, joy, and appreciation of what Akron and Summit County can offer to the community culturally, and a major factor of why I love working and living in the area. I have so much gratitude for those who work in ‘arts and culture’. These individuals can feel pride and satisfaction when their hard work impacts the life of a child, elderly person, or someone new to the area. Their efforts have certainly influenced my life in a positive way.

Have you seen an example of how arts and culture have positively impacted your community? Can you describe it?
Working at the Airport, we’ve made every attempt to introduce local art from both the Akron and Canton communities where possible. Along with ‘Akron’ and ‘Canton’ murals on our atrium walls, we have collaborated with Stark County’s “ArtsinStark” program to showcase local artists’ work in our business lounge and near the visitor information center. We have selected local Akron artist Lenny Spengler to design the artwork that will be placed in our atrium area terrazzo floor. The artwork will be a ‘tree of life’ that will provide leaves of famous people, places, and events from the Akron-Canton region. There will be 46 leaves in total to commemorate the inception of the airports in 1946. The work is planned for completion in February 2021. We’ve received lots of positive and inspiring comments from the community, as well as first-time visitors. CAK Airport wants to ensure that visitors to the region have a positive first and last impression of the Akron-Canton region. The Airport has also instilled local events like the 720 Market, 5K Run, and drive-in movie this last October in conjunction with the Canton Palace Theater. The premise here is to bring people to the Airport for reasons other than flying, all the while tying in the Akron region’s communal and cultural identity in a beneficial way for residents and visitors.

What is your favorite spot to shop local?  Why?
Whenever possible, we enjoy local antique/thrift shops in either Akron, Hartville Marketplace, or North Canton. Any local coffee shop, whether Akron Coffee Roasters in Cuyahoga Falls or Muggswigz Coffee in downtown Canton, are frequented often. The Bohemian Mama products at local craft fairs are also favorites for the family. A meal at Blue Door Café in the Falls, or Flip Side in Hudson are delicious options. We want to consistently support local businesses that make up millions of dollars in both jobs created and economic catalysts for many neighborhoods in Summit County and beyond. The money created by the local businesses stays there to be reinvested; a win-win for the buyer and seller.

What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
A few spots in the local parks stand out for their scenery and natural landscapes; both the Ledges trail and Brandywine Falls in CVNP, along with the Gorge Metro Park’s trail features. We love to hike and admire everything these parks have to offer.

Who is a patron or supporter of arts and culture in Summit County who you admire?
Nicole Mullet, Executive Director of ArtsNow immediately comes to mind. Her leadership in Summit County’s arts/culture scene, willingness to lend assistance when called upon, plus helping allocate resources to gifted artists within the community demonstrates her selfless attitude and an example to emulate.

What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
To continue to expand arts and culture into outdoor public spaces like along Main Street in downtown Akron and other major thoroughfares. Expanding such a program such as a rotating art exhibit or musical talent at a local airport (like CAK!), hospitals, and other community-centric facilities can be an area of focus that brings a community together and improves quality of life, independent of one’s nationality or political/religious beliefs.

Why do you feel exposure and participation in arts, culture, and/or environment are important for students and young people in Summit County?
Exposure and participation to arts and culture at a young age are vital. The ability to share one’s culture, whether expressed through art, music, or other forms, can inspire young people to excel in school and further motivate them to positively impact their community. Such opportunities to educate and inform at a younger age needs to occur for the generations that come after us. In this manner, a passion for the arts and culture sets the foundation for a stronger, healthier, and more philanthropic community.