Knight History a Part of Akron Arts Scene

By Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts and Miami program director

I’m in Akron today, announcing more than $700,000 for arts projects that enrich and engage the community, as part of our national arts program. The largest grant – for $200,000 – is to renovate and expand the Summit Artspace, in order to strengthen it as a headquarters for arts and culture.

I love the idea and the space, but there is also an interesting Knight Foundation connection. The Summit Artspace is located in a 1927 Art Deco building once home to the Akron Beacon Journal, a Knight newspaper. On the day the offices opened, President Calvin Coolidge actually pushed a button in the White House, sending pulses across hundreds of miles of telegraph wires to start the presses churning in Akron.

We announced the funding in that very space – a great convergence.

Here’s a look at the other projects we funded in Akron, as part of Knight’s new national Arts Program:

  • Greater Akron Musical Association: $150,000 to produce and present a semi-staged performance of Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess by the Akron Symphony, along with community engagement activities, in conjunction with the University of Akron and the Gospel Meets Symphony Chorus.
  • Akron Art Museum: $107,500 to digitize the museum’s art collection in online archives that will be accessible via the Internet for a wide range of educational purposes.
  • YEPAW – Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop: $100,000 to expand the group’s summer programming by creating the YEPAW Institute, a yearlong arts education program for urban high school students.
  • Akron Civic Theatre: $50,000 to enable the theater, founded in 1929, to expand programming opportunities for community-based arts and non-arts groups who otherwise could not afford to use the venue.
  • Cleveland International Film Festival: $30,000 to bring underserved Akron high school students to FilmSlam, the annual student film festival presented as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival.
  • City of Akron: $30,000 to bring entertainment to Akron area residents through Lock 3 Live and to support the Lock 3 Summer Arts Experience for high school students who display an aptitude in the arts.
  • Tuesday Musical Association: $50,000 to support educational outreach that matches the classically trained young musicians and composers of the FUZE! series with school-age and college students to inspire interest in the arts. Clara Knight, mother of Jack and Jim Knight and a Knight Foundation founding donor, was an enthusiastic supporter of the association.