Release Date: September 12,2018

High Arts Festival showcases local art in downtown Akron

Festival kicks off Sept. 14, and each weekend features a different art genre through Oct. 6

The High Arts Festival is a 23-day celebration of local artists and multiple art forms. In its second year, the event has expanded to include the genre of literary art, in addition to visual art, film and music. The festival runs from Sept. 14 through Oct. 6 in downtown Akron venues throughout the Historic Arts District. Through an accessible and competitive process, votes by jury and the public will determine winners of $32,000 in cash prizes for participating artists.

The event came to life as a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winner, receiving a two-year commitment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to elevate and celebrate Akron's arts community by expanding the Akron Art Prize into a festival. Peg's Foundation, the philanthropic organization behind the creation of Akron Art Prize, continues support of the High Arts Festival with additional support from Ohio Arts Council.

Over the course of the festival, guests can experience 142 visual art entries in Summit Artspace, 28 super short and short film entries at The Nightlight, up to 28 poetry and prose submissions at Uncorked Wine Bar and The Nightlight Lounge and up to 39 solo/duo or group musical entries at Musica, BLU Jazz+,Uncorked Wine Bar, Chill Artisan Ice Cream and the Maiden Lane Outdoor Stage behind BLU Jazz+. The full festival agenda is available at or on Facebook.

The festival kicks off with an opening reception at Summit Artspace on Sept. 14, with entertainment and activities in the parking lot on Broadway and the debut of visual art entries from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Entries will be on display at Summit Artspace every Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 6.

Throughout the festival, each weekend will highlight a different art genre with an opportunity to view and vote on the entries. Films will be screened at the Nightlight on Saturday, Sept. 22 in two programs between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Program A runs at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Program B runs at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Screenings are free, but tickets are encouraged by registering at

Live readings of the literary art entries will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Uncorked Wine Bar and The Nightlight lounge. The presentations will begin with a reading from Dave Lucas, Ohio Poet Laureate at 5 p.m. at Uncorked Wine Bar.

Musical entries will be performed live on Saturday, Oct. 6 between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Musica, Uncorked Wine Bar, BLU Jazz+, Chill Artisan Ice Cream and the Maiden Lane Outdoor Stage behind BLU Jazz+.


The fastest and easiest way to vote is with the High Arts Festival app, available for free for Apple and Android devices. The app provides all artist entry details; photos and descriptions; and the ability to view or listen to film, literary and music entries. The app may be downloaded and viewed anywhere, but attendance at the event space is required to enable voting. Once a vote has been cast at an event space, or a check in has been enabled, voting can take place from any location.

Each registered voter, age 16 and older, is allocated up to five votes in each genre. Voters who cast all five votes and complete a short survey will unlock a sixth vote and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift card to the downtown Akron business of his or her choice. Voting kiosks are also available in each venue during the festival weekends.

Prize levels have been restructured since last year's festival, with the addition of the new genre (literary art) and now totals $32,000. The grand prize winners for public and juried votes in each category will receive $3,000, with two runners up in each category receiving $1,000. Grand prize winners from each genre will also be provided with a two-day tour to Chicago in October to learn from, be inspired by and work with the local arts community.

Voting begins Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. and closes Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.

Special Events

The opening night reception is Sept. 14 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. outside of Summit Artspace. Activities include live music by Rhodes Street Rude Boys, DJ Kevin Richards and Umojah Nation, and live painting and interactive activities with Akron Soul Train, Nikki Bartel and Nichole Epps. Food and drinks are available by Happy Camper Bar Car, Sandy Bottom Bowls, Smash Time and The Square Scullery. The opening night party is coordinated in partnership with TVTX Productions.

Workshops and panel discussions are planned throughout the festival and open to all participating artists and the general public:

Water marbling demonstration and workshop
Saturday, Sept. 15 | 1-2 p.m.
Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St.

Art in Akron panel discussion
Saturday, Sept. 15 | 3-4 p.m.
Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St.

Meet and Make Art with international artists Boa Mistura
Thursday, Sept. 20 | 5:3-8 p.m.
Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St.

International artist team Boa Mistura is in Akron making their first of two art installations to beautify public space and inspire the Akron arts community with out of the box thinking. The team will use their signature Anamorphosis technique to engage eyes and speak to pedestrians and drivers along S. High Street as part of the High Arts Festival 2018. In this workshop, the team will discuss technique, share stories from past projects, and look to Akron for inspiration and input for their upcoming 2019 installation at the NIHF STEM School.

Film screening: American Movie
Friday, Sept. 21 | 7-9 p.m.
Akron-Summit County Public Library auditorium, 60 S. High St.

Literary art panel discussion
Friday, Sept. 28 | 6-9 p.m.
Akron Art Museum, Bud and Susie Rogers Garden, 1 S. High St.

Music industry panel discussion
Friday, Oct. 5 | 6-9 p.m.
Akron Art Museum, auditorium, 1 S. High St.

Celebrate with the community and artists at closing night on Oct. 6 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a free concert from The Outside Voices. Winners will be announced at 9:30 p.m.

Full details and exact performance times are at or on Facebook. Guests are encouraged to share their High Arts experiences on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #highartsfest.