On Nov. 12, a small panel met at Summit Artspace at an Akron Area Arts Alliance workshop called “Pop Up: Art in Unexpected Places.” The panel discussed public art works and events. The workshop was moderated by Elaine Guregian, the vice president of AAAA and former arts critic for the Akron Beacon Journal. The panel consisted of Bobby Wesner, the creative director of Neos Dance Theater; Jane Startzman, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival director and the former Ohio Ballet dancer; Anita Marron, the organizer of Highland Square’s Porch Rokr music festival; Elisa Gargarella, University of Akron art education professor and director of the university’s Arts LIFT program; and Akron developer Tony Troppe, whose latest project is the BLU Jazz+, a jazz club.
The panelists shared their own unique experiences organizing public arts events in unorthodox places: Wesner’s company has performed in the refurbished former car dealership APEX building, and Porch Rokr brings dozens of bands to perform on homeowners’ porches all over Highland Square. The panelists discussed the importance of public art and its “contagious” influence of inspiring more art and positive new ideas. The practical issues of making art were also discussed, like marketing a vision and funding it.
The panel had an open dialogue with the audience, many of whom were members of the local arts community. The audience was encouraged to share their ideas for improving Akron further through art, and they and the panelists bounced ideas off of one another. The workshop’s timing was especially pertinent, as the John S. Knight Foundation’s Knight Cities Challenge recently wrapped up its first round of submissions.
More information on the Akron Area Arts Alliance is available at www.akronareaarts.org.