Arts and Culture Take Center Stage for Rotary Club of Hudson

Summertime is entertainment time for local families, with theater, art shows and concerts aplenty throughout the community.

The Rotary Club of Hudson heard from some of theses organizations that offer and support these summer events at its recent Wednesday meetings.

Ross Binnie, chief brand officer for the Cleveland Orchestra, described the events at Blossom over the past 50 years. Blossom accounts for half of the Cleveland Orchestra’s annual revenues. He said he is proud of the program that allows children younger than 18 years to attend symphony performances free. More than 25,000 youth typically attend during the summer season.

Binnie said Blossom, built on 200 acres, has unbelievable acoustics and an unmatched seating arrangement for 19,200 patrons. He hopes to add corporate tents, upscale food vendors and year round activities to the current mix of amenities.

The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the top orchestras in the world, just completing a world tour to rave reviews. They have entertained more than 400,000 classicial music enthusiasts in the past year and command a $54 million annual budget, seventh-largest for orchestras in the country.

In addition to Binnie, Nicole Mullet spoke to Rotary, the executive director ArtsNow. She says arts and culture are major indicators of economic strength in a region, as ArtsNow seeks to connect, collaborate and support the incredible creative sector in Summit County. The creative industries support 290,000 jobs and contribute $41 billion to Ohio’s economy.

More than $10 billion and 50,000 jobs have been created since 2015. Mullet says she’s concerned that young people in general are not engaged enough in arts and culture, but feels that Hudson has an excellent record of youth involvement. She believes that arts education affects overall academic achievement and that the most sought after job candidates are those that demonstrate creativity.

According to Mullet, employees want to live in a vibrant arts and cultural community, while artists, in turn, helping companies communicate, train and bring employees together. She suggests viewing ArtsNow new website “Summit Live 365” for what’s happening in the arts and culture community.

Terri Pontremoli, director TRI-C JazzFest, a three-day summer music festival the fourth weekend in June, told Rotarians that jazz says a lot about America.

She described jazz as true democracy, incorporating all types of music with the freedom to improvise. Originating in New Orleans, jazz was originally a dance form, but the “groove” combined with the “blues” became the roots of modern jazz which musicians build upon in their performances.

The Tri-C JazzFest began 40 years ago as a two day event and is now a 10-day celebration all over the Cleveland area with both indoor and outdoor venues. Jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Wynton Marsalis have performed there, and next year’s “Flying Home” concert will celebrate the 40th anniversary.

Pontremoli said jazz includes many forms such as big band, funk, Latin and smooth jazz. European and Japanese citizens love jazz, she said, and Hudson has a very strong high school program. Jazz camps are available for those that would like to pursue the art form.

Mark Masuoka, CEO of the Akron Art Museum, talked about the “new vibrancy” in Akron which has helped launch a rebirth of the 97-year-old institution and its collections. He described the museum as “dedicated to enriching lives through modern art, showcasing national and international art created since 1850.”

The museum’s collection includes more than 5,000 works of art, with a strong focus on contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. Masuoka has established a 60,000-square-foot collecting museum and added a public garden for displays and concerts.

His new emphasis is “art is for everyone —- inside and out”.” In addition, he has originated the Akron Art Library that lends art to the public for display in many venues. Events this summer included “Downtown at Dusk” on Thursdays that featured concerts and an opportunity to tour the museum. A new exhibit, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” will open Aug. 1, allowing visitors to understand the process of creating art.