For nearly 50 years, ArtsinStark has championed creativity in Stark County.
The private nonprofit is on an ongoing mission to “create smarter kids, new jobs and healthier communities,” said President and CEO Robb Hankins.
ArtsinStark is one of 40 communities across the country that use a “United Way model” of fundraising. The organization holds an annual arts campaign to ask individuals, businesses and foundations for monetary support. ArtsinStark has met its goal every year for 14 years straight, including raising more than $1.6 million last year. It’s the only arts community in the country to have such a success rate, Hankins said.
The organization redistributes 75 percent of those funds as grants to local arts programs. The majority of the money goes to the big seven—Canton Ballet, Canton Museum of Art, Canton Palace Theatre, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Massillon Museum, Players Guild Theatre and SingStark!—with smaller grants going to smaller Stark County arts organizations. The remaining 25 percent of funds goes to downtown revitalization, arts programming in schools and maintaining the Cultural Center for the Arts.
ArtsinStark currently owns 15 acres of property in downtown Canton. Maintaining the 50-year-old Cultural Center properties “is an overwhelming job we never have enough money for,” Hankins said, adding that next year ArtsinStark will launch a new capital campaign.
“It takes a lot of dollars and a lot of time,” he said, likening it to a home repair project. “There’s always something else. You’re reminded your job is never done.”
ArtsinStark also sponsors the popular First Friday events in downtown Canton. The monthly year-round event draws thousands to downtown Canton to shop, eat, enjoy live music and check out local artists and creators.
People are often surprised by the caliber of art found in Stark County and the multitude of art, music and theater events going on, Hankins said. “There is a ton of great art and artists here, and the art here is at a quality people are shocked by because it’s so good.
“Go out and try something new. The arts are indeed for everyone. And the arts in Canton and Stark County are absolutely world class,” he said.
Upcoming First Fridays:
Friday, November 1: Lego Mania
Friday, December 6: Pay it Forward
Friday, January 3: First First Friday of 2020