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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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 meet Hudson resident Tom Speaks. Tom is
Q: What is your earliest memory of the arts?
When six years old in art class, we were tasked with making a paper mache sculpture. I worked diligently for the entire class period and was very excited to bring my vision to life. I’d produced a rectangle block the size of a very large shoebox. As the class was ending the art teacher approached and asked what I was creating. “A dinosaur!” I said proudly. “That doesn’t really look like a dinosaur,” my art teacher said. And I responded, “Well, this is just his foot.” I had BIG plans for that sculpture. Sadly, it was never completed.
Q: What was your first introduction to the arts scene in Summit County?
My parents took me and my sisters to a ballet performance at EJ Thomas Hall when we were kids. I was eight or nine years old and my sisters were younger. Total and complete disaster. A train wreck! This is still a Speaks Family topic of laughter. We’d had no introduction to the arts. Zip! “Theater” for me was only associated with Star Wars, popcorn, spaceships, and exploding aliens. My parents, God love them, wanted to expose us to the fine arts. They probably had just watched a PBS program or something. So, they arbitrarily selected a ballet. What the??? There was nothing on the EJ Thomas stage
Q: How do the arts in Summit County impact your life?
There is a fantastic dialog in the opening chapters of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. The Bishop, who gets limited attention in the play, is actually the central topic of the first 100 pages of the novel. The bishop, a very poor man due to his extreme generosity, is discussing with his sister their limited amount of food as winter approaches. Specifically about how to efficiently use their small garden. The sister wants to use every inch to produce food but the bishop insists on planting flowers in one small section. The dialog is as follows:
(Sister) – “Why this one useless plot? It would be better to grow salads here than flowers!” (Bishop) “Madame, you are mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful.” He added after a pause, “more so, perhaps!”
Art is beautiful. Art is necessary.
Art and the practice of art by the professional and amateur
Q: What artist or arts organization in Summit County do you wish more people knew about?
Akron Lit. Akron Lit is a group I have recently had the privilege to join as a Board Member. We are dedicated to assisting other literary groups in and around Akron flourish by helping with literature-based programming as well as sound fiscal, legal and structural practices to ensure stability and longevity. The goal of the organization is to help perpetuate a thriving and diverse literary community in and around Akron. How cool is that?
Q: What is a “can’t miss” Summit County arts experience?
Akron Jazz and Blues Festival is really terrific. A totally “Must Attend Event,” for certain. Theron Brown, Chris Anderson and Dan Wilson, some of the talented creators of the festival, bring their creative energy and generous spirits to event that has been graced with stellar line ups of world class Jazz and Blues performers. You gotta go!