Thirteen cultural and performing arts groups will enrich and engage Akron in innovative ways, with $601,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The funding is part of Knight’s efforts to weave the arts into Akron residents’ everyday lives. The foundation targeted programs and wide-ranging projects with the potential to transform Akron’s arts scene and enhance community engagement through theater, dance, film, music and visual arts.

“Through these projects, Akron residents will have the opportunity to become more engaged in their community’s growing and vibrant arts scene,” said Jennifer Thomas, Akron program director for Knight Foundation. “Collectively, these projects cover a broad range of cultural offerings, from providing theater and artistic enrichment programs to new opportunities to encourage young people’s participation in the arts.”

The recipients are:

Tuesday Musical Association: $125,000 to support its 125th anniversary season, dedicated to the memory of Clara Knight, the mother of Knight Foundation’s founders and an enthusiastic supporter of the association. The season includes high-quality programming, a strengthened commitment to its highly successful complimentary student ticket programs and outreach activities, and community engagement with town hall meetings to continue a dialogue about the arts. An additional $20,000 supported a 2011 collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which featured Wynton Marsalis.

Civic Theater: $100,000 to help engage diverse audiences in the Akron Civic Theatre’s 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons with intergenerational, multicultural and community-based programming.

City of Akron: $65,000 for the Akron Summer Arts Experience, including Lock 3 summer concerts, festivals and community events, the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival and Sunday Symphonies.

Cleveland International Film Festival: $70,000 to support “Knight Night in Akron” and the Akron Preview Event for the 36th annual festival in March, which provides audiences the opportunity to see the newest and best films from around the world and informs them about other cultures. Funding also supported the Akron Preview Event for the 2011 festival.

Greater Akron Musical Association: $50,000 to support “American Visions,” multimedia concert combining music and photography in celebration of the Akron Symphony Orchestra’s 60th anniversary. The concert will feature the World Premiere of “Akron Chronogram” by Akron composer Roger Zahab, with videography by Laura Ruth Bidwell of the Akron Art Museum. An additional $36,000 will take musicians out of the concert hall and into unconventional public spaces in 60 Random Acts of Culture, which brings cultural performances to unexpected places in Akron as a reminder of how the arts can enrich people’s lives.

Akron Art Museum: $35,000 to fully realize Phase Two of the Akron Art Museum’s collection digitization project, including the development of new content for engagement.

Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet: $20,000 to expand the Reach Out and Dance (ROAD) program in Akron Public Schools, which visits 15 elementary schools with free dance classes for 1,250 students.

Actors’ Summit: $20,000 to bring new audiences to Actors’ Summit performances, through a community engagement program targeting youths and their parents.

DANCECleveland (Cleveland Modern Dance Association): $15,000 to provide lead sponsorship for the 2011 performance and multiple outreach programs of DANCECleveland, including MOMIX, a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton.

Keepers of the Art: $15,000 to support the production of the fourth annual Akron Hip-Hop Showcase, which presents concerts, arts and a conference around “true school” hip-hop, which is based on positive messages and storytelling.

Ohio Shakespeare Festival: $10,000 to produce professional, theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s infrequently staged masterpieces, “Love’s Labours Lost” and “The History of Richard III.”

GroundWorks Dance Theater: $10,000 to support acclaimed choreographers Ronen Koresh, Doug Elkins and Kate Weare, who will bring innovative dance to Akron audiences.

Weathervane Playhouse: $10,000 to provide theater and artistic enrichment programs to Akron schools with limited field-trip budgets.

In the 60 years since Knight Foundation was formed, Knight Foundation has committed over $132 million to Akron – more than a quarter of that, or $32 million, since 2008. The amount represents Knight’s largest commitment to any single community.


Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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