ArtsNow Patron Spotlight: Kelli Crawford-Smith

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. (Have somebody you want to nominate for the spotlight? Reach out to

Art needs and deserves an audience and advocates. In our newest series, the ArtsNow Patron Spotlight, we’re putting the stories of our local arts patrons front and center. Today, we hear from Kelli Crawford-Smith.

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

I remember being incredibly young the first time I visited the Akron Art Museum and thinking it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. It was the first time I had been exposed to visual arts.

How do the arts in Summit County impact your life?

There is no greater or more honest way to tell the stories of members of our community than through art. The arts in Summit County have provided some of the most vivid visuals and sounds to some of my greatest memories. Additionally, the arts provide an outlet to escape the chaos of everyday life to remind us of the beauty, creativity, and innate talent that exists amongst us.

Summit County is crawling with diverse opportunities to experience the arts and boasts some of the most spectacular talents in the region. We live in a community that embraces and supports our local artists, and in turn, our artists provide our communities with the cultural means necessary to evolve and thrive.

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

Collide: Cuyahoga Falls is redefining public and community art in the City of Cuyahoga Falls. They have produced multiple projects of collaborative art that have been made by residents, visitors, and business and community leaders. They have remained committed to providing free access to public art as well as various ways for citizens to contribute or create art and it is changing the way the community views and experiences art. As Cuyahoga Falls continues to redevelop and move forward, Collide: Cuyahoga Falls is at the table providing a voice for the arts community.

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

I have a deep-rooted love for the Akron Civic Theatre, and it remains one of my most favorite places to visit in Summit County. From the moment you walk through the doors, the Akron Civic Theatre is truly an unmatched experience from the historical feel of the grand foyer to being surrounded by the magnificent sculptures under the star-lit sky in the auditorium. It is breathtaking. I now get to take my young son with me to enjoy the shows and take in the beauty of the theater.