Summit Artspace Announces 2021 Arts Alive Recipients

Akron, OHIO (June 18, 2021) — The Arts Alive Awards Committee has named the outstanding artists, talented arts educators, and change-making advocates who bring art to life and help shape our community’s culture. Recipients were announced on June 17, 2021 via a virtual event hosted by Summit Artspace.  

More information about the awards and selection criteria can be found here.  

  • Emerging Artist: Alexandria Couch is a visual artist and recent graduate of The University of Akron with two degrees, a B.F.A. in Painting and a B.F.A. in Printmaking. She is Programs Coordinator at Summit Artspace and is attending Yale for her M.F.A. this fall.  
  • Outstanding Visual Artist: Leandra Drumm is a visual artist and daughter of Don and Lisa Drumm. Her brand, Leandra Drumm Designs, has grown over the past two decades since she began selling her work while earning her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Kent State University.  
  • Outstanding Artist in Music: Floco Torres is a Hip-Hop musician, producer, songwriter, and graphic designer. He is Community Outreach Director at The Devil Strip and created the Hip-Hop duo Free Black! in 2018 with producer/drummer HR3. 
  • Outstanding Artist in Theatre: Jairo Cuesta is an internationally acclaimed actor, teacher, director, and co-founder of New World Performance Laboratory(NWPL) in Akron, Ohio. He retired from his leadership role at NWPL’s umbrella organization, Center for Applied Theater and Active Culture (CATAC), earlier this year and is relocating to Paris, France. 
  • Outstanding Artist in Dance: Jane Startzman has over fifty years of experience in the field of professional dance and is currently Director of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival and Director of Events at the Akron Civic Theatre. She danced professionally with the Ohio Ballet, Ballet Puertorriqueño, and the Tampa Ballet from 1969 through 1989 and served as a part-time faculty member of the University of Akron’s dance department from 1995 through 2008. 
  • Arts Educator: Andrea Karcic is a Macedonia-based artist and visual arts educator who has shown exemplary dedication and commitment to teaching, advising, and mentoring art students at Canton City Schools for nearly 20 years. She earned her B.F.A. from Kent State University and her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hiram College. 
  • Collaborative Project: Curated Courthouse is a unique partnership between the Summit County Probate Court and Curated Storefront. Led by Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer and assisted by Lisa Mansfield, the partnership came together with matching support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge.  
  • IDEA Leader: Wendy Duke of The Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA) accepted this award on behalf of the organization. CADA’s mission is to inspire the growth and empowerment of diverse individuals on the autism spectrum and those with cognitive/physical disabilities through theatre-based programming. 
  • Rising Arts Leader: Courtney Cable is an artist and cultural producer based in Akron, Ohio. She has her B.S. in Organizational Communication with a minor in General Art from Ohio University and her M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of Akron, where she also attended the Myers School of Art for Metalsmithing. She is the Creative Director of Curated Storefront. 
  • Arts Patron: Herbert and Dianne Newman both grew up in Akron and believe that supporting the arts is vital for any community. Herb works as a developer at his company Summit Management Services, Inc., and Dianne is Of Counsel to Shifrin Newman Smith, Inc. and practices at Gertz & Rosen Ltd.   
  • Arts Alive Award: Howard Parr has over thirty years of professional experience in the arts and entertainment industry. He currently works as Executive Director of the Akron Civic Theatre and served as its Director of Development and Planning from 1999 – 2004. 
  • Summit Artspace Champion: GAR Foundation was established in 1967 through the philanthropic desire of the Roush family to support the needs of those in the local community. Today, GAR Foundation awards $6 to $7 million annually to organizations and programs in the areas of Early Childhood Education, K-16 Education, Economic & Workforce Development, Basic Needs, Arts & Culture, and Nonprofit Sector Advancement. 
  • Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Leslie Barnes is a native of Akron and Founder and Executive Director of the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop (YEPAW). She earned her Associate Degree in Applied Business from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Ashland Theological Seminary. Her Doctor of Worship Studies is from the Robert Webber Institute of Worship Studies. 

For further information about Arts Alive 2021, contact Executive Director Heather Meeker by emailing heather@summitartspace.org or calling (330) 376-8480, ext. 2.  

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About Summit Artspace: Summit Artspace is a non-profit arts organization connecting artists and artist-serving organizations to the resources they need to thrive professionally, creatively, and financially. It provides artist studios, exhibitions, and programs in Summit County, and serves as a vital place for the public to engage with the creative community. Summit Artspace is located at 140 E Market St in Akron, Ohio. Public hours are Fridays from 12-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 330-376-8480.