Arts & Culture Patrons: Georgia and Gary Miller

Georgia Nix Miller is a former business consultant, entrepreneur and community advocate for women, children, education, and the arts. Gary Miller is a long-time university faculty member and college administrator and currently serves as President at The University of Akron. Gary and Georgia have previously worked to promote the arts and culture in university communities in Mississippi, California, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Georgia has served on the boards of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wilmington Historical Society, and Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In Akron, Georgia serves on the Akron Symphony Orchestra’s Board and the Executive Committee of ArtsNow’s board. To advance the arts as a mechanism for economic development and community coalescence and prosperity, Georgia and Gary initiated AkronArts, a university initiative to reimagine the power and organization of the arts at The University of Akron.

What are your earliest art memories?

Georgia’s mother was a Juried Artist and her father, an orthopedic surgeon, held a deep interest in music and visual art. As a very young girl and the oldest child in the family, Georgia’s father took her to see Leontine Price, Jose Carreras, Benny Goodman, Vienna Boys Choir and many other musical, ballet and symphony performances. As her mother expanded her art career, Georgia spent precious time with her and other visual artists during their creative periods.

Gary grew up in a working-class family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. His early interest in the arts was generated by a high school teacher who convinced him to take a summer school class in the humanities. While primarily interested in math and science, he produced a thesis comparing the two Cubist painters Picasso and Braque that was his segue into art appreciation. His interest has deepened as he has had opportunities to interact with university art faculty and work with Georgia on community art projects.

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

As the Millers began considering a position for Gary in Akron, they were impressed by the rich arts and culture ecosystem in Akron and the surrounding area. When they were fortunate enough to be invited for a confidential interview for the position at The University of Akron, the interview committee afforded Georgia a private tour of the Akron Art Museum and a driving tour of Summit County Parks and Recreation; and Gary was given a glimpse of the campus arts and humanities programs and facilities. Of course, their first trip through downtown introduced them to the beautiful Akron Civic Theatre.

How do the arts/culture/environment in Summit County impact your life?

The arts and cultural environment in Summit County impact every aspect of Georgia and Gary’s lives in Akron. Through their work together in the community and at The University of Akron, they enliven their own lives, the lives of visiting family and friends, and, hopefully, our entire community.