ArtsNow Announces ArtsForward Grant Recipients and Awards Nearly $450,000

AKRON, OHIO (November 28, 2023) – ArtsNow, the backbone agency for Summit County’s arts and culture sector, is thrilled to announce its awarded nearly $450,000 to the grant recipients of ArtsForward, its first regranting program dedicated to advancing and implementing the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan

ArtsForward was launched thanks to the generous support of philanthropic partners such as Akron Community Foundation, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, GAR Foundation, and Knight Foundation, ArtsForward is committed to supplying the necessary resources to bolster the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan’s ten key priorities, as determined through input from stakeholders, residents, and visitors in our communities.

From free community jazz concerts to a project that explores the journey of the Bhutanese refugee crisis, ArtsForward is honored to be championing programs and projects throughout Summit County that align with the collective impact of the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan. The program’s primary goal is to uplift the community while continuing to advance the Cultural Plan’s essential priorities.

One of the grant recipients, J. Travis, is on a mission to transform the traditional art class into a powerful tool to alleviate stress and anxiety through her project, Assuage HER. “Our classes are tailored to create a safe and supportive environment for women, with a special emphasis on women of color–empowering them with a creative outlet to express themselves,” states Travis. “This funding makes it possible for me to hire a team that shares my passion for using art to promote mental health and well-being to the community members of Summit County. Your contribution to ArtsForward will help to support the artists that uplift and enrich our communities.”

The 2023 ArtsForward Grant Recipients, as chosen by the ArtsForward Committee:

Angry Cow Poetry in the Rialto Living Room
Keith Allison, $2,000

Music for All
Eri Snowden-Rodriguez, $5,000

Morgan Park Mural
Akron Parks Collaborative, $8,000

Branding the Downtown Barberton Arts and Entertainment District
Main Street Barberton, $9,840

Peninsula Art Academy 20th Anniversary –Building for the Future
Peninsula Art Academy, $10,000

Say It Loud
Millennial Theatre Project, $10,000

Therapeutic Theater
Makeshift Theater, Inc., $14,594

Dynamite Duos, dancers with disabilities program
ArtSparks, $15,000

West Akron Through Time
Tyron Hoisten, $15,000

Proyecto Letras: Literary Voices of Akron Youth
Proyecto RAÍCES, $16,250
Funded in partnership with Summit County ADM Board

Micah Kraus, $17,337

The Accessibility Library
Funded in partnership with Summit DD

Assuage HER
J. Travis, $25,000
Funded in partnership with County of Summit Executive’s Office, Community Development Block Grant Funds

Bipolar Butterfly Unify
Kimmy Henderson, $25,000
Funded in partnership with Summit County ADM Board

Community Paste Up Wall
Collide Cuyahoga Falls, $20,000

Qu in Recovery
QuTheatr, $20,000

“We do it for the Water”
The Lippman School, $20,000
Funded in partnership with County of Summit Executive’s Office

Skin Color
Althea Jones, $21,400

Reflection Series
The Chameleon Village Theatre Collective, $24,500

Ghosts in the Magic City
Magical Theatre Company, $25,000

Artist Advancement: Unleashing Creativity, Self-Care, and Inclusive Leadership
Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, $25,000

The Nightlight Website Rebuild and Accessibility Initiative
The Nightlight Cinema, $25,000

Helping Artists Thrive: “Artist Care” Services
Summit Artspace, $25,000

Creative Aging Institute at the Akron Art Museum
Akron Art Museum, $25,000

Shadows to Light: Revealing Bhutanese Refugee Resilience
Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, $25,000

To learn more about the ArtsForward recipients and their projects, click here.

Nicole Mullet, Executive Director of ArtsNow, remarks on the significance of the funding: “The backing of ArtsForward stands as a testament to the dedication of the artists, staff, volunteers, and community members who conceived and are actively implementing the Cultural Plan. Arts and culture play a vital role in the growth and vibrancy of our Summit County communities, and we are thrilled to collaborate with and serve our region as stewards of these resources.”

To amplify the impact, Knight Foundation has pledged a $1 million match. Nicole explains, “Knight has committed to matching our fundraising efforts up to 1 million dollars over four years. Annually, as we raise at least $250,000, Knight Foundation will match it with an additional $250,000. This means we have the potential to generate $2 million over four years to enhance our community through arts and culture.” 

ArtsNow and its partners are asking Summit County residents, businesses, and philanthropic organizations to join them in this effort by donating toward the match. Every dollar you commit will be matched by Knight Foundation, up to $1 million.

For more information on the Akron/Summit Cultural Plan or to donate to ArtsForward, please visit