As part of its Staging the Future capital campaign, the Akron Civic Theatre has developed a public art strategy that will make a dramatic contribution to the aesthetic landscape of the areas surrounding the theater. Through capital funding, including a major gift from Rick and Alita Rogers, internationally recognized artists have been commissioned to create installations that will become attractions unto themselves. These works of art will draw national attention to the changing landscape and rebirth of downtown Akron.
The transformation will create more ways for the public to enjoy the Civic by offering an exciting collection of public art around the venue. Large-scale murals on the exterior walls of the Civic will deliver a big visual impact on the neighborhood, and additional works created by local and regional artists will create an “art park” around the building.
Muralists El Mac and Aiseborn commenced work on the Civic’s exterior wall facing W. Bowery Street overlooking Lock 4, and muralist Louise Jones (Ouizi), has begun her work on the exterior wall on S. Main St. overlooking Lock 3. The outdoor donor wall honoring leadership gifts to the Staging the Future capital campaign will be designed by Rochester, New York-based glass artist Nancy Gong. The installation will be located on the elevator wall along the S. Main St. sidewalk adjacent to the entry point of the Civic’s arcade.
The Civic’s public art strategy also includes as many as ten works commissioned or acquired from local and regional artists. The theater will announce its process for selecting local artists in the coming months.
“The Akron Civic Theatre’s intentional work to ensure that local voices help to inform public art will be realized on the walls of our historic gem on Main Street,” said Nicole Mullett, executive director of ArtsNow. “We believe that art ignites change. With a downtown on the precipice of a new look and a new era, the Civic is leading the way in creating public spaces that remind all of us that beauty and art is a basic human right.”
In 2019, the Civic convened a public art committee and engaged the services of the consulting firms Janus Small Associates and LAND studio, a nonprofit that manages public art installations and civic space development projects. Using community feedback as a guide, the committee reviewed 150 artists from around the country and selected these four artists to begin implementing its public art strategy.
Linda Lyell, co-chair of the Staging the Future capital campaign and member of the public art committee, said, “The Civic is proud to have the works of internationally-recognized artists El Mac and Aiseborn create a spectacular mural on our building. The subject matter is tender and intimate and reflects the diversity and cultural emotion of our community.” She continued, “Much thought and work has gone into this project as we have engaged the community from the beginning in surveys, focus groups and discussions with all segments of Akron. It is our hope that this piece of art will be enjoyed by our community, visitors to Akron and generations to come.”