Tomorrow—Tuesday, February 23, 2015—we’re launching a Kickstarter to refurbish 15 old tabloid newspaper boxes, but it isn’t enough to just buy some boxes and fix them up. I want to rock Akron-made art on the sides so each box is an ambassador of creativity.
Even though I’m not a native Akronite, I’m in love with this city. For the first year and a half after I moved here, I looked for a single resource—a website, a newspaper, a magazine—that could help me scratch beneath the surface so I could get to know what makes Akron so unique. Something that could ask big questions facing our community and shine a light on cool places to eat, new bands to follow, people pushing the boundaries in art and theatre.
There isn’t anything like it, but there should be.
That’s why I’m starting the Devil Strip, an arts, entertainment and culture alt-weekly dedicated to Akron’s creative community. I want to give a voice to—and be an advocate for—Akron’s creatives and the people who love and support them.
There’s a very good reason for this, which I’ll get to in just a moment.
The Devil Strip is set—lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, as we say back home—to make its public debut on Tuesday, March 17. The boxes I want to buy will make it even easier for you to find the paper, and the paper, I hope, makes it easier for people to connect to each other, the places and things that make Akron special.
Turning each box into public art means showcasing local artwork by local artists and photographers who help tell the story of Akron in their work.
This idea is informed by and inspired by the Akron Art Museum’s “Live Creative” motto, as well as their upcoming Inside/Out installations. It’s caused me to think of each box I set out as an ambassador for art in our neighborhoods.
Speaking of the art museum, the good people there have generously agreed to put all our boxes on display at an opening gala before they hit our mean streets.
They aren’t alone in their support of this project. The Knight Foundation will kick in $2500 if we reach our goal on Kickstarter, which means we’re already about halfway home. The Downtown Akron Partnership is acting as our fiscal agent and will help us get boxes in the best locations downtown. The Akron Area Arts Alliance will help us take submissions from artists once we’ve hit our goal. And dozens of others have offered their support in a number of ways.
And that brings me to the bigger vision for all of this.
Our goal here may be to put Akron art on these boxes. The point may be to make it easier for you to find The Devil Strip and with it in hand, for you—natives and newbies alike—to find more of what makes this city so special.
But the mission—my mission—is to help change the way everyone thinks about Akron.
Can you imagine a day when Akron is as well-known for its creative community as it is rubber?
But for the world to think of Akron this way—to view the Black Keys, James Ingram, Chrissy Hynde, Maynard James Keenan, Rita Dove and Devo and John Lithgow, LeBron, Tin Huey and Chuck Klosterman, etc., etc., not as accidents or outliers but as the logical products of a creative environment… Well then… we have to think of ourselves this way.
Ultimately, that’s why I’m doing this. So, for me, this is about being a better Akronite. Every bit of help you can offer—whether it’s three bucks or $300, or just sharing the project with your friends and family—gets us closer, not just toward this short-term goal of adoring some boxes with art but to that day when we think of Akron as hot bed of creativity.
Which is the way many of us already see things.
Here’s a sneak peek at the reward levels for the campaign:
$3 – We’ll put your name inside a special work of art comprised entirely of words (henceforth known as Word-Art) that will adorn the sides of Box #1 (aka the Alpha Box), plus you’ll get my undying appreciation and you’ll have the satisfaction of getting to yell “I made this happen!” at friends and strangers alike every time you grab a copy of The Devil Strip from one of these boxes. Heck, you can yell it at random whenever you even think about this project.
$12 – You’ll get a printable PDF of a blank cutout newspaper box you can decorate yourself. AND we’ll mail you a postcard of the aforementioned Word-Art with a handwritten word of thanks (possibly scribbled in crayon after a long night of drinking), which doubles as an invitation to the Big Impressive Opening Gala at the Akron Art Museum. Plus, word-art inclusion, my undying appreciation and yelling, “I made this happen!” at people you don’t know. Or even people you do. Yay, yelling!
$25 – You’ll get a printable PDF coloring book of Akron, because why not? Plus, we’ll tweet about your amazing generosity and send you a screenshot of your Internet immortality AND you’ll get invited to the VIP Special Preview for the Big Impressive Opening Gala where you can pick up a special button and sticker that tell the world YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN! without all the yelling. However, you also get everything at the $12 level, which means you can yell if you wanna and I’ll be super grateful.
$45 – Want to go to the VIP Special Preview for the Big Impressive Opening Gala but don’t know what to wear? Well, contribute at this level and we’ll send you a swank limited edition T-shirt that celebrates the fact that all seven of the world’s wonders are in Akron. Plus, everything else in the yelling-optional $25 level, except my undying appreciation. Because you’ll have my undying appreciation plus infinity. And, we’ll send you a digital version of the Alpha Box Word-Art, suitable for printing and framing, or using as your desktop wallpaper or turning into the wallpaper for your house. Whatevs. It’s your life. Ain’t nobody here going to tell you what to do with it.
$75 – (limited to 20) — Exclusive to this level: Be on the Art Selection Committee, which will winnow down the number of submissions we receive to just 30 that the public at-large will then vote on to make the final selections. Plus, you get everything at the $45 level AND an iron-on patch signifying you got your Akron Art Badge.
$150 – (limited to 14) – Exclusive to this level: Name a box. We’ll put a sticker on the front of the box that says, “This box’s name is (insert non-offensive name), so sayeth (insert your non-offensive name)!” Plus, I’ll write a (short, fictional and/or fun) microstory about you or someone you love then post it on our Facebook page, exulting your contribution to the movement to make Akron awesome. AND you get everything at the $45 level.
$325 – (limited to 14) – Exclusive to this level: Have an art prize named for you and awarded at the gala then celebrated in a half-page color ad in The Devil Strip, thanking you and praising the artist, plus everything at the $45 level.
$1250 – (limited to 1) – Get the Best in Show prize named for you then awarded at the Big Important Opening Gala and detailed in a full-page color ad in the Devil Strip, thanking you and praising the artist …AND then collaborate on the design for a brand new box featuring your name and/or logo tastefully on the sides. Plus, of course, everything at the $45 level.