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Akron’s ArtsNow to Lead Creation of Citywide Cultural Plan

Akron mayor and staff at Cultural Plan launch
Jennifer Conn
Akron's chief of staff James Hardy, Mayor Dan Horrigan and Press Secretary Ellen-Lander-Nischt at Akron's Cultural Plan launch

Akron has kicked off a process that will create a blueprint for the city’s cultural resources, from visual art to environmental assets.

Residents will be central to the creation of the Akron Cultural Plan, which will be led by ArtsNow, a nonprofit created to connect art, culture and community. The goal is to rely on community input to develop a strategy for strengthening the city’s cultural resources, across an array of places, experiences and organizations.

“The cultural sector actually spans everything from the zoo and environmental resources across the county to experiences about where people engage with food, to faith based organizations, to our libraries, which are housing not only our musical history and theatrical history for Akron but the history of how we became as a people to get to this place,” said ArtsNow Executive Director Nicole Mullet. 

ArtsNow Executive Director Nicole Mullet
ArtsNow Executive Director Nicole Mullet

ArtsNow is working with Columbus-based Designing Local on the plan, which is funded through the GAR and Knight foundations.

Organizers will start by evaluating the city’s cultural resources and how they serve residents. Throughout the year, residents will be asked to share their experiences, values and cultural priorities through focus groups, surveys, interactive maps and online tools.

A cultural plan is a natural fit for Akron, Mullet said.

“There are more cities like Akron that are navigating this post-industrial world and how we’re going to come into our own in this next iteration of ourselves,” she said. “And the fact that our communities are looking at growth in a way that is focused on the creative makes so much sense. We’ve always been a community of makers. It’s what we do.”

Organizers expect to have a draft ready for public review by fall and a complete plan ready to release this winter.