For the second year, Akron is increasing its funding to five arts programs.
The city is boosting funding for the programs by $10,000, following a $25,000 increase last year.
Akron still hasn’t returned to the level of support it provided the programs in 2009. However, the city has continued to secure support from local foundations and companies, which has kept the overall amount going to the programs about the same at more than $400,000.
“We are funding everything with the help of sponsors,” said Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth.
Akron City Council approved $259,000 Monday for the Akron Symphony, Akron Art Museum, Heinz Poll Dance Festival, Lock 3 Summer Arts Experience and the Summit County Historical Society. The amount is $61,000 less than the city spent on the five programs in 2009.
Akron raised $157,147 in private donations for the summer arts program, dance festival and Akron Symphony Orchestra’s Sunday concerts. That was about $10,000 less than the city raised last year.
The city also found donors to support outdoor concerts at Lock 3 and Lock 4 downtown this summer, bringing the total in private donations to $268,647, which is up slightly from the amount raised last year.
The dance festival, which will be in late July to mid-August, will include performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company from New York City and the Cincinnati Ballet. Lieberth said getting major companies cost more but the city was able to raise additional funds to help cover the expense.
The top private donors for all of the arts programs included the University of Akron, the Knight Foundation, Akron General Medical Center, the Ohio Ballet Endowment and Akron Community Foundation.
The Ohio Ballet Endowment gave $50,000 to the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival and the Knight Foundation contributed $65,000 to the dance festival, symphony, summer arts program and downtown concerts.
About 500 Akron students participate each year in the Summer Arts Experience, which pairs them with professional artists. Last year’s program included high school students who painted portraits of local residents that were installed on the side of Ritzman Pharmacy on Copley Road. This year, an art project will be done in the Joy Park area in East Akron.
Councilman Russel Neal Jr., who represents Ward 4, including the Copley Road area, praised Lieberth for finding donations to help pay for the arts programs. He said the summer program is an example of the city being proactive and giving young people a positive social outlet. He quoted a recent speaker he heard who said “art is the soul of a city.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com.