Arts & Culture Patron: Ryanne Helms

What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?
My earliest memory of Akron’s arts and culture would definitely be exploring the Akron Art Museum. I remember going many times in my elementary and middle school years for field trips and projects and I was always fascinated by the various forms of art and different media used to create. It was cold, clean, and silent in a way that made it feel special. Elementary-aged me always felt like she was observing something sacred.

How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
Arts, culture, and environment are extremely important to my experience in the county I call home. Our environment brings us together as a community and the more we appreciate and take care of it to maintain its beauty, the more it thrives. For example, murals on the sides of buildings may seem like a small contribution, but it truly makes all the difference. My entire life I’ve observed how one mural draws the attention of everyone I’m around every time we pass it. Someone always points it out or comments on the artwork, which just shows how art can be used as a landmark. It helps us remember where we are. It creates memories and brings a little color to our city. Groups of friends will gather at murals to take pictures carrying the art forward into new creations that just build on its history. We need art to help encourage creativity and inspire the environment we live in. 

What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I definitely want to mention downtown Akron’s parking decks. There’s something about looking out over downtown Akron, especially at night, that makes you appreciate Akron all the more. We may not be as big or as beautiful as some cities but we have our own beauty and we’re building slowly. It just takes a little effort and a lot of maintaining respect for our city/county. 

What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I’d love to see more community involvement in making our county great. Cleaning up our streets and parks, community projects like murals and gardens, volunteering, etc. I would love for our community to come together, not just each city alone, but all of us together. In our current times, in-person activities are sadly not safe but one day, when this is all over, I would love it. Hopefully we will learn from all of the negative of this year, all that we have had to set aside, and everything we realize we have neglected enough to do better. We can come out of this stronger and do better together. It’s time to start creating and not just for the appearance of our community, but for the experience. 

How do you get involved in the development of culture in our community? 
Being the Vice President of Akron Minority Council has been an amazing experience for me. I think it’s important for everyone to be involved in their community in some way to help build that bond. Helping to build this organization is my most recent and most immersive experience thus far and it’s quite humbling. Running a nonprofit in an attempt to help our community is taking on a time-consuming, full-time job that only pays you in the knowledge that you’re making an effort. This experience is why I urge everyone to volunteer at some point in their lives. It’s a learning experience, for sure.