President Gary L. Miller
The initiative, AkronArts, is a bold plan to embrace and enhance arts both on campus and in Greater Akron that will enrich, empower and enliven the community. UA will reassess and advance its existing programs, facilities, and relationships and create new ones as it aspires to develop a national model for how an urban research university and its legacy city work together to create a special place for education, work and entrepreneurship. AkronArts would present Akron as a national model of creativity, expression, authenticity, diversity and collaboration.
President Gary L. Miller unveiled the initiative during his speech at the Akron Roundtable today.
“In order to thrive in the post-pandemic world, the University must redefine what it means to be a campus, a place,” said Miller. “For The University of Akron that means understanding how our campus and our downtown work in synergy to enliven the community, attract businesses and create opportunities. This initiative is designed to use our considerable art resources along with those of the community to advance this vision.”
The multifaceted plan includes repurposing space within the University-owned Polsky Building into places that promote the arts. The academic building, which fronts the civic commons area around Lock 3, will be refocused to better foster community-faculty-student interactions and to become a place where community members can enjoy the arts while living in and visiting downtown. To aid in this endeavor, the University plans to relocate strategic programs within the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art and the School of Music to this space to directly connect with downtown revitalization efforts.
Other components of the plan involve developing a closer partnership between E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall and the Akron Civic Theatre to provide a greater volume and variety of programs for the community and building on other current programs and partnership, such as an expansion of the Master of Arts in Arts Administration program, which prepares students for successful careers as administrators, advocates and leaders in all disciplines of the arts. A renewed focus will be placed on the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and the work of the University of Akron Press. The National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron will also be expanded to provide the community with even more exposure to dance through its extensive national and international connections. Important programs such as the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, and Synapse, the art + science series of the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center, will connect art and music to the physical, biological and social science programs of the University to create community learning and entertainment opportunities on campus and downtown.
The AkronArts plan was developed by the AkronArts Committee on Re-imagining University Arts Programs for Community Revitalization, comprised principally of UA faculty. The plan willbe supported by an Arts Advancement Council, which will work to bring together local, regional and national leaders and patrons of the visual, performing and cultural arts to advocate on behalf of UA and its students; strengthen and grow collaborations with the city of Akron; promote its academic programs in the arts; and generate philanthropic resources to support UA arts. As part of its ongoing “We Rise Together” capital campaign, UA will pursue opportunities with existing and new donors and other funding sources to support these outward-thinking efforts.
“AkronArts will help to build a stronger Akron as we work together to deploy these great university resources in a coordinated partnership with current initiatives in downtown,” said Joe Urgo, committee chair and interim dean of UA’s Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. “Merging the arts scene between UA and the city can help to enliven downtown life, increase enrollment, and attract residents, visitors and businesses.”