Posted by Victoria Rogers
Above: The company of The Wilma Theater participates in a combat workshop taught by Ian Rose. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Today, I’m excited to celebrate our latest Philadelphia arts grantees – 22 groups receiving $1.48 million. Each of these organizations represents the artistic excellence and audience engagement that Knight ...
Aug. 6, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Hunter Franks
Photo: A passerby reads stories of people’s first love outside Summit Artspace during the Downtown Akron Artwalk. Credit: Hunter Franks.
Hunter Franks, an artist and founder of the Neighborhood Postcard Project and League of Creative Interventionists, is in Akron, Ohio, for three weeks using creativity to build community with Knight Foundation support.
There is nothing to do in Akron. It’s boring. It sucks.
When I told people I was going to Akron these were some of things they said. When I arrived in Akron these were some of the things people said. And it is easy to see the negatives upon first glance. Akron is spread out. It’s a city of suburbs where everything is a 15-minute drive away. Parking lots and strip malls dominate the landscape. Pedestrians are scarce. To understand Akron, you must understand it’s past.
Akron was a hub of multiple manufacturing industries, with rubber leading the way. If you had an automobile in the 1900s, chances were that your tires came from Akron. The population of Akron grew some 200 percent during the 1910s. Akron was the place to be. But the late 20th century saw the rubber industry decline with many manufacturers laying off employees, relocating to other cities or shutting down operations entirely. The city was devastated and a once-thriving metropolis has seen its population decrease steadily for the last 30 years. So the first thing you see is the quiet parking lots and the empty streets.
But look a little harder and you will find the vibrancy here. You will find the people that love Akron. You will find the people that are not settling for the Akron of years past. You will find the people transforming Akron into the city that they want it to be. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving in downtown Akron was the decorative planters filled with beautiful flowers. The planters, surrounded by deserts of monotonous concrete, screamed out with color: “I care!” They are a metaphor for Akron — a small piece of energy amid the normalcy of parking garages and highways. Once you look a little harder, once you get out of your car and walk around you will be amazed.
Aug. 5, 2014, 8:18 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad
Aug. 5, 2014, 8:16 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad
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