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 Molly Hartong of Molly Hartong Design and co-founder of COLLIDE: Cuyahoga Falls. (Have somebody you want to nominate for the spotlight? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
How do arts, culture, and environment impact your life in Summit County?
I am a graphic artist by trade; and, in my free time, I actively support the arts (co-founder of COLLIDE: Cuyahoga Falls). I didn’t grow up in an area where there were many opportunities to engage in arts and culture, and I believe that perspective has provided me with a real appreciation for the variety and abundance that Summit County has to offer.
What artist, cultural organization, or experience do you wish more people knew about in Summit County?
There are way too many gems to list. As things open up and we get back to a new normal, I encourage everyone to support local! Buy art created by local artists. Support venues that are hiring local musicians. Financially support our cultural institutions. Stay-cations. Enjoy and rediscover the gems!
Why is it so important to you? Why do arts and culture matter to you?
Arts and culture are necessities now more than ever! Not that I had any doubt before, but the Coronavirus pandemic has solidified that belief. What have people been doing? How have we filled our days? We are spending time outdoors, watching movies, listening to music, and creating. It is how we express ourselves. It is how we escape. It is how we learn. And, perhaps most powerful, it is how we grow.
Have you seen an example of how arts and culture have positively impacted your community? Can you describe it?
With the help of ArtsNow back in 2015, we (COLLIDE) identified the need for the artists and supporters of the arts in Cuyahoga Falls to assemble and support one another. As time went on, we dedicated our energies and resources to enrich the community through the promotion, creation, and appreciation of the arts. We opened Front Street, a public art master plan is on the horizon, collaborations are happening, and our city shows the potential for vibrancy.
What is your favorite view in Summit County? Why?
My favorite view in Summit County is looking up-river from the bridge at High Bridge Glens Park on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. It is a spectacular sight every season of the year.
What do you wish for arts and culture in Summit County in the next five years?
After the artists, nonprofits, and community members recover from the pandemic, I’d like to see the county get back to where we were heading. We, as a city get to reap the benefits of Akron’s Cultural and Cuyahoga Falls’ public art plans rolling out. Arts and culture are supported, and the community once again is engaged in diverse opportunities to experience art.
Why do you feel exposure and participation in arts, culture, and/or environment are important for students and young people in Summit County?
We need to continue to make art and culture accessible to everyone, starting with our county’s youth. That will enable us to sustain the successes that have been achieved thus far. Accessibility to arts and culture allows our students to express themselves, to be unique, and to be accepted.