Arts & Culture Patron: Shammas Malik

What is your earliest memory of participating in arts and culture?  
Definitely spending time in the National Park. We used to bike from the Beaver Marsh to Peninsula and back all the time. I love walking that path and seeing the remnants of the locks – it really situates you in the environment but also in the history of Akron as a canal town. 

How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
We’re so lucky to have our city parks, Metro Parks, and the National Park. And when you combine that with things like BLU Jazz+, PorchRokr, and the Akron Art Museum, it’s such a special combination that I think we often take for granted. 

What artist, cultural organization, or experience do you wish more people knew about in Summit County?
I have to plug my friend Lizzi Aronhalt – her paintings are so beautiful and her style is so unique. She’s always been an amazing artist, but it’s awesome watching other folks discover her work, which you can find at

Why is it so important to you to support arts and culture? Why do arts and culture matter to you?
I think part of it is getting to know a lot of artists personally – you see how devoted they are to their craft and you identify with their passion and commitment. Akron is a town where people want to help each other – we’re all in this together – and that means artists should be able to make a living doing their work.  

What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
As of right now, it’s the new Valley View Area of the Cascade Valley Metro Park. Summit Metroparks has spent the last few years restoring this former golf course off of Cuyahoga Street into a gem – a beautiful natural open space as far as the eye can see, just miles from downtown. Most of the parks, while I love them, are heavily wooded, enclosed areas. This one is a wide open vista along the Cuyahoga River – I’m only slightly overselling it by comparing it to Yosemite. 

What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
I hope we can get to a point where uplifting, community-driven experiences like PorchRokr happen in all of Akron’s unique neighborhoods, helping create a sense of belonging and empowerment for folks throughout the city.