ArtsNow Patron Spotlight: Brenda Cummins

Art audiences, supporters, and patrons are all vital to a healthy arts and culture sector. This new blog series will highlight some of the people who make the arts work in Summit County. Today we hear from Brenda Cummins (Have somebody you want to nominate for the spotlight? Reach out to

What is your earliest memory of the arts (attending a function, organization, or art making)?

My earliest memory of making art was with my girl scout troop. My mom was the leader and my dad worked at the phone company. He donated telephone wire and my troop created elaborate wire rings to sell to raise dollars for our troop. This was the start of my love affair with original pieces of artistic jewelry. 

What was your first introduction to the arts scene in Summit County?

My first introduction was as Development Officer for the Akron Civic Theatre. I had the opportunity to raise dollars for our incredible atmospheric theatre but it also gave me the opportunity to learn about the importance of the arts in our community. I knew it was a driver for economic impact in our downtown and having access to all the events enriched both mine and my family’s lives. My children still have very fond memories of the shows and the access they had to performances that they would not have had otherwise. Two of my three children are now musicians and I know that this introduction to the arts scene in Akron had a big influence on the performers they have become today.

How do the arts in Summit County impact your life?

One of the most impactful art projects I worked on was when I was able to start the HealingArt program at Summa Health. Researching the healing nature of the arts and creating a program for the system that enhanced the patient care environment and provided comfort to those on their medical journey was the most fulfilling thing I’ve done. From original works of art in hospital spaces to performances from world-renowned musicians in our Cancer and Palliative Care units and writing poetry with front-line caregivers, being able to provide a healing peace to our patients was amazing. Creating this project allowed me to get involved in so many subsequent board and committee appointments around the arts sector. Who wouldn’t be impacted in a genuinely positive way!

What artist or arts organization in Summit County do you wish more people knew about?

Well, if you haven’t heard performances by my children, then that should be on your bucket list! But seriously, I wish for everyone in our community to find something in the arts that bring them joy and make the time to share it with those they love. There is no greater joy than seeing it reflected in someone else’s face. Start with the places that bring people together such as Summit ArtSpace, Lock 3 or Lock 4, Nightlight Theater, the Akron Civic Theatre, the Akron Art Museum…and then listen and pay attention. Because every one of those locations or events will connect you to another and another and another.

What is a “can’t miss” Summit County arts experience?

Open Mic on Tuesday nights at Uncorked Wine Bar. You’ll hear absolutely the best in local music, you will be supporting local business, and Chill Ice Cream is open for a quick treat halfway through the night!