Release Date: November 14,2018

Rising Star Center for the Arts opens in downtown Akron

Business second in fourth phase of downtown Akron pop-up retail program

Phase four of the Downtown Akron Partnership’s pop-up retail program continues with the opening of Rising Star Center for the Arts at 11 E. Exchange in the Evans Building. Rising Star is a multidisciplinary art center dedicated to the education, positivity, inspiration, creativity and encouragement through the arts.

The Downtown Akron Partnership pop-up retail program began in 2015 and since then, a total of 33 new businesses have opened and range from store front locations to vendors in the Northside Marketplace. Phase four is supported by Burton D. Morgan Foundation and as of Sept. 2018 is expanded to broaden the types of entrepreneurs accepted. Now any new business, not just retail storefronts, can locate in any available space in the Special Improvement District.

Rising Star Center for the arts, located on the third floor, is owned and operated by Bethany Westphal. Rising Star offers classes and lessons in music, theater and art for students of all ages. They also offer workshops, summer camps and semi-annual performances to showcase the hard work of the students. In the future they hope to offer all types of dance classes, show choir, a community orchestra and a winter guard and possible drum corps.

“I went to school for music and began teaching out of my house, traveling to other people’s houses or through schools in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Chagrin Falls,” said Westphal. “I wanted to create a positive and uplifting environment for students to study the arts that was safe for creativity without fear of being rejected, discouraged or excluded.”

Rising Star Center for the Arts offers music lessons for woodwinds, brass, piano, strings (orchestral, guitar and uke) as well as voice. General music lessons for younger students not sure of which instrument to pursue are also available. Rising Star also has music classes for all ages including Baby + Me and Music and Movement with more classes planned. Additionally, band and orchestra instruments with options for rent-to-own is also available. November features a special promotion where for every registered student(s); siblings receive half-price tuition.

“My teaching style is very positive and no matter what level you are, it’s a positive atmosphere that’s encouraging,” said Westphal. “I want to be the one that is there encouraging students of all ages to express themselves through the arts.”

Rising Star offers art classes for all ages that will soon be announced for January 2019. Through a partnership with Wholly Joes Coffeehouse and Bakery on the first floor, Coffee and Canvas is offered that is not a typical “paint and sip” event. At these classes individual creativity, expression and general good vibes through painting in a welcoming and calm atmosphere is embraced.

Theatre and Photography
Children’s theatre classes are currently offered for the fall semester with spring details to be announced. On Dec. 8 current students (ages 5-17) will perform the Jingle Bell Jukebox at the center. Two theatre classes will be held next semester, one all-inclusive for ages 5-17, and the other including a production of Willy Wonka Jr. for ages 8-14. Auditions will be held Jan. 20-22 by appointment. More details are available at under Theatre.

Photography classes will be announced for January 2019, but the center currently provides photography services for senior portraits, family and baby, engagement and holiday occasions.

“I am just so surprised at how supportive everyone has been of this new endeavor,” Westphal said when asked about being a new business owner. “Starting a new business by yourself in your early 20s is not an easy task and I am so thankful for the students, parents and community that have been there for me.

Rising Star Center for the Arts is open during classes and lessons as well as for events and workshops. Music and art themed birthday parties are also available. Find the center online at, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.