‘….the arts are a basic need and a human right’

Howard Parr of Akron Civic Theatre Recognized at 2018 Governor’s Award

by Noor Hindi


Akron shows up for the arts. We love our city, the people who live here and the organizations that make Akron a great place because of their support of the arts.

photo by Shane Wynn

And when it comes to showing our elected officials how much we value the arts, we’re definitely not quiet. That’s why it’s no surprise that more than 60 community members attended the 2018 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Columbus.

Arts administrators, patrons and community members drove two hours to attend the event to express the significance that art has had on our community and to congratulate Howard Parr, the executive director of Akron Civic Theatre.

Parr won the Arts Administration award and was recognized for his unparalleled support of the arts in Akron through his work at Akron Civic Theatre, Ohio Ballet and Cleveland Signstage Theatre.

“It’s a huge honor,” says Parr. “I’ve been coming here for about 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of people win this award. And to be considered in that group of people is a big deal for me. I have a lot of respect for those folks.”

Since joining Akron Civic Theatre in 1998, Parr has served as its director of development and planning and then later as its executive director. He says 80 percent of the programming at Akron Civic Theatre is community-based, which is what has led to so much of its success.

Nicole Mullet, executive director of ArtsNow, helped organize a table for friends and colleagues of Parr. Mullet was especially thrilled to see Parr recognized for his work because he’s been a mentor to her.

Mullet was also happy to see so many people from Akron show up to the event.

“It’s broadening Summit County to ensure we’re represented at the state and that our elected officials and people working in the arts look at Summit County as a place for the creative,” Mullet says.

She added that the arts advance our city because of talent attraction, retention and economic vitality. People want to live and work in spaces where art is thriving.

“One of the things that Bryan de Boer (Akron Art Museum) said that I thought was great was that ‘the arts are a basic need and a human right.’ Everyone should be able to access the arts and engage with the arts. And that’s, like, my north star. More arts in more place for more people,” Mullet says.

The J.M Smucker Company was also recognized for its support of Akron Art Museum, Tuesday Musical and other organizations in Akron. They received the Large Business Supports of the Arts Award.