ArtsinStark Campaign Falling Short

As the numbers crunch now, when the 2016 Annual Arts Campaign ends on May 25 in 15 days, it will fall at least $50,000 short of its $1.7 million goal. “That’s because of a combination of corporate restructuring and a slowing economy,” says ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins, “that’s really hurting us.” The annual drive to raise dollars for all the arts is being chaired by Jim Porter, CEO/Publisher of The Repository. He believes there’s a chance. “If we finish all our calls, finish our arts workplaces in companies — and get a bunch of folks to give a little something for the first time — we can still do this.” N0t making goal will mean making cuts to art programs in schools, downtowns, and neighborhoods that reach 200,000 people a year. So, in the final two weeks remaining, hundreds of volunteers are working very hard to make sure that does not happen. More information at www.ArtsinStark.com/donate .

ArtsinStark is the major annual investor in the seven largest arts organizations here: the Canton Ballet, Canton Museum of Art, Canton Symphony, Massillon Museum, Palace Theatre, Players Guild and Voices of Canton. Annually, the county arts council provides nearly $1.2 million into these groups. “When we reduce support for these organizations,” says Ed Levy, Chair of ArtsinStark’s Operating Grants Committee, “we threaten the very future of the arts here.”

Over the last ten years ArtsinStark has given out $1.5 million in 600 little grants to churches, YMCA’s, YWCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, universities, libraries, schools, theatres, museums, historical societies, festivals, hospitals, Girl Scouts, food pantries, and individual artists. “Every single community in Stark County has received an ArtsinStark grant of some kind,” says ArtsinStark Board Chair Max Deuble. “So it’s incredibly important we keep this support going.

Last Friday, ArtsinStark hosted its 107th First Friday in the Canton Arts District. Eight years ago there was one just art gallery and five pieces of public art in downtown Canton. Today there are 26 art galleries and studios, and 55 new pieces of public art. “Why this is so important is that it’s not just downtown Canton we’re talking about,” says Emil Alecusan, ArtsinStark Vice Chair. “ArtsinStark has awarded grants and put arts projects in all our downtowns including Alliance, Jackson, Louisville, Massillon, Minerva, Hartville, North Canton, and Canal Fulton.”

Finally, there’s the revolution in education ArtsinStark has started. It’s called the SmArts Program and it has supercharged learning for 30,000 kids in every one of the 17 public schools systems in Stark County — and all of the Catholic elementary and middle schools as well. “We are changing the way schools teach by bringing the arts and the sciences together,” says ArtsinStark board Treasurer Greg Luntz. “That is great news for the 21st century workforce that America needs.”

ArtsinStark is a 46 year old private, non-profit organization that gives out grants, manages the Cultural Center, and runs the Annual Arts Campaign — and much more (Canton Arts District, First Fridays, SmArts Program in the schools, 20/20 Vision, and The ELEVEN). What it doesn’t earn, it raises each spring through the Annual Arts Campaign. Last year ArtsinStark became the only united arts fund drive in America to ever make goal for 10 years in a row. “The next 15 days will determine whether or not that amazing record can be continued,” says ArtsinStark board member Faye Heston. “And I believe, if we keep working hard, we’re going to do it.”