ArtsNow Patron Spotlight: Deb Yandala

Art audiences, supporters, and patrons are all vital to a healthy arts and culture sector. This blog series will highlight some of the people who make the arts work in Summit County. Today we hear from Deb Yandala, CEO at Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and ArtsNow board member. (Have somebody you want to nominate for the spotlight? Reach out to

My family moved to Akron due to a change in my husband’s job and I was not happy to leave my job and our dear friends in the community we left behind. Then a week after the moving van left, I explored our neighborhood and beyond by car and realized that we lived less than 15 minutes from both downtown, with its wonderful arts offerings, and a national park, with great trails for hiking and biking. My attitude towards Akron completely changed.

Akron is not only a place with great arts and cultural activities, but it is also an easy place to take advantage of them. I have rich memories of taking my young children to library story hours, walks at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Akron Symphony children’s concerts, activities at the Akron Art Museum and more. Many of the activities were free or inexpensive. My children, now young adults, talk about favorite trails we discovered during the Summit Metro Parks’ hiking spree. Because I work in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, they got to know it intimately and while they now live in other parts of the country, they still call CVNP “their national park.”

Summit County offers accessible, high-quality artistic opportunities. The variety of experiences available is simply amazing. You can watch or listen to a great performance or you can be part of a play, choir or orchestra. You can see great pieces of art or you can make them. You can hear a great speaker at the library or you can take poetry-writing classes. You can experience a ranger-led hike or have your own park adventure.  

I support the arts by participating as a violist and by financially supporting the arts and cultural organizations that I care about the most, and by volunteering. I believe that a quality community that attracts and retains residents is one that actively supports artists and arts organizations. It is one that puts high value on making arts and cultural opportunities available for all. It is one that recognizes that a healthy arts and culture sector attracts businesses and tourists.  

Summit County is a great place to live and work in good part because of its arts and culture. Community support is critical to make sure that this is true for years to come.