An Unlikely Trio: Summit Artspace Partners with Courthouse and Summit DD
The spirit of collaboration is part of what makes Akron extraordinary. Recently, three county-supported organizations partnered to help invigorate the lives of community members through the arts, specifically advocating for artists with disabilities.
ART FOR ALL ABILITIES
Summit Artspace—headquartered in a historic building owned by Summit County—is an arts organization dedicated to connecting artists with the resources they need to thrive. The Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board (Summit DD) is the county agency responsible for coordinating essential services for people with developmental disabilities to help them reach their goals and secure the best opportunity for success. Together, these organizations are addressing issues of equity and access, while simultaneously creating an arts community of inclusion and belonging.
“Through this partnership, we’ll help artists of all abilities, bringing them together to expand their practice and network with other artists,” explains Summit Artspace’s director of artist resources, Natalie Grieshammer Patrick. “In addition to curating and installing exhibitions at Summit Artspace and in the community, we are eager to welcome Summit DD clients to our Artist Entrepreneurship Institute and other programs and to provide a forum where they can sell their work and tell their stories.”
CURATING THE COURTHOUSE
Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer, assisted by Community Outreach Specialist Lisa Mansfield, has activated local artists to transform the austere marble walls of the Summit County courthouse. As people experience heartache and hope under the same roof, art allows for respite and rejuvenation. In 2021, Summit Artspace awarded Curated Courthouse—a collaborative project between the Probate Court and Curated Storefront—an Arts Alive award in recognition of the power of collaboration to advance and support arts and culture in the community.
Last fall, the Probate Court teamed up with Summit Artspace and Summit DD during its fifth annual Art for All Abilities exhibition. The show featured the work of artists with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are often marginalized in the larger arts community, facing significant barriers to creating, sharing, and selling their work. “We are focusing on local people who are underrepresented in showplaces,” elucidates Judge Stormer. “Art speaks to humanness—the artist is expressing an emotional moment.”
SYNERGIES OF COLLABORATION
“Summit DD is extremely excited about the partnership with Summit Artspace and the courthouse, which will lead to artists being better connected to the arts and culture community that exists in Summit County,” states Drew Williams, director of community supports and development at Summit DD. Several works from the Art for All Abilities exhibition were sold with the proceeds going directly to the artists. “Having my art displayed publicly boosts my confidence. It leads to doors being opened and provides me with a healthy outlet for my creativity,” notes artist Amanda Branham, whose piece Farmland was purchased by Curated Courthouse. “I like connecting with people who purchase my art and asking them what about it speaks to them and inspires them.”
As the partnership progresses, its core purpose will remain the same: empowering the talented local artists that enliven and enrich Akron’s cultural landscape.
ARTWALK: ARTS EDUCATION | 4-8PM FRIDAY, MARCH 11
WINTER EXHIBITIONS | THROUGH SATURDAY, MARCH 26
SPRING EXHIBITIONS | APRIL 8–JUNE 25
140 East Market Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
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