Dance: We’re light on our feet.

  • Only the second of its kind in the country, the National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron supports the research and development of new work in dance at the highest level. The center provides dance makers and their collaborators with a wide array of research opportunities, working spaces, resources and time.
  • The Ballet Theatre of Ohio is the largest classic ballet company in Northeast Ohio. It has a broad classical and contemporary repertoire at various venues.
  • The University of Akron’s Dance Institute offers a pre-college program for young dancers wishing to develop their talents with professional and UA dancers.
  • The Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet is a pre-professional dance company. It exposes dancers ages 8-18 to ballets staged and choreographed by professionals.
  • The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, which includes interactive children’s programs, brings professional dance to Akron’s parks.
  • The Neos Dance Theatre—based at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall at The University of Akron and the Oberlin Center for the Arts—is a nonprofit professional company that performs both classical and contemporary choreography. The company dances in various venues in Northeast Ohio and has toured the country. Its proximity to the University’s dance program benefits both students and professionals.
  • Kelli Sanford, a graduate of The University of Akron’s dance program, created the RED ( in 2011. Based in Hudson, the group’s modern style has been called dark and edgy. It performs in venues across the region.

We Have Drama (the good kind).

Quite a crop of theater types grew up or lived in Greater Akron, including John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun), Melina Kanakaredes (CSI: NY), Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise), Lola Albright (Peter Gunn), Marian Mercer (Promises, Promises) and Jesse White (the Maytag Man). Clark Gable lived and worked in Akron before heading to Hollywood. Tony- and Emmy-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell (Hamilton, The Wiz) is a graduate of Akron’s Buchtel High School.
  • The historic Akron Civic Theater on Main Street rocks the concert scene, but also features musicals such as Sister Act and the original Next to Normal.
  • Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, affiliated with Kent State University, presents outdoor musicals and dramas on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. Picnic before the show.
  • The Ohio Shakespeare Festival doesn’t limit itself to the Bard. The professional company puts on assorted dramas on the grounds of Stan Hywet Hall, the elegant mansion built a century ago by the founders of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. In winter, performances retreat to the historic Greystone Hall in downtown Akron. Don’t miss ShakesBEER—quaff and watch.
  • Weathervane Playhouse in Akron’s Merriman Valley is a community-based theater featuring local talent in crowd pleasers. It also holds acting camps for children and adults.
  • The None Too Fragile Theater, also in the Merriman Valley, shows professional, bold and relevant “off Broadway” plays.
  • Rubber City Shakespeare Company, in its new home on Akron’s north side, puts on reimagined classics plus community workshops. Pay as you can.
  • The Magical Theatre Company puts on professional dramas and comedies for children in its recently renovated theater in downtown Barberton.
  • Kent’s Standing Rock Cultural Arts runs the New World Children’s Theater at the North Water Street Gallery. It emphasizes original playwriting and the use of recycled materials for sets and props.
  • At the Nightlight Cinema on Akron’s High Street, patrons can sip a drink and watch fascinating, independent films with like-minded folk.
  • The Akron-Summit County Public Library shows entertaining and thoughtful films, often bringing in expert speakers to discuss them. It also offers movies for teens and kids.
  • The Gum-Dip Theatre involves the community in all phases of a production to encourage reflection and connection. (Gum-dipping was a step in tire building.)
  • Ma’Sue Productions is an Akron theater company created in 2011 to tell and celebrate traditional and original African American stories. Its productions take place at various venues in the region.

We hit all the right notes.

  • We have more than 100 live music venues in Greater Akron. Take your pick of indoor or outdoor, arena or intimate, jazz or indie.
  • The Black Keys, composed of Akron natives Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, play large venues such as the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, but got their start in Greater Akron clubs.
  • Blossom Music Center, an outdoor amphitheater in Cuyahoga Falls, is the summer home of the renowned Cleveland Orchestra. It also hosts big-name rock and country artists.
  • The historic Kent Stage, built in 1927, puts on about 150 concerts a year, the Kent Folk Festival, the Kent Blues Fest, Kent Reggae Fest, the Kent State Around Town Music Festival, film festivals and numerous plays.
  • The Akron Civic Theater is one of only five remaining atmospheric theaters in the country where patrons sit under a twinkling star-lit sky and intermittent clouds.
  • The 3,000-seat E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on The University of Akron campus hosts concerts, speakers and straight-from-Broadway shows all year. It is home to the Akron Symphony.
  • Next door to the Civic, Lock 3 is an outdoor amphitheater on the site of one of the old locks of the Ohio & Erie Canal. It features cover bands and events throughout the spring and summer.
  • The University of Akron’s Steel Drum Band was one of the first collegiate bands of its kind in the country. It plays concerts all over the world, including at its home in Guzzetta Hall on the UA campus. Guzzetta also hosts numerous performances of student and faculty ensembles open to the public.
  • Greater Akron has developed a concentration of businesses that supply musicians with equipment. It includes Audio-Technica Corp. (sound), EarthQuaker Devices (handmade guitar pedals), S.I.T. String Co. (guitar strings), Mollard Conducting Batons and Panyard (steel drum pans).
  • Akron was once the Midwest’s jazz corridor, a favorite stop for artists traveling from New York to Chicago. Today, The University of Akron’s renowned jazz band, Blu Jazz+, the Lock Bottom Jazz and Blues Club and the Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival keep the beat.
  • Greater Akron is a major site on the map of punk music. Devo of “Whip It” fame and the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde are probably the most well-known punk/new wave musicians to come out of 1970s Akron, but they were not alone. In a matter of a few years, major labels signed Akron’s Chi Pig, the Waitresses, Tin Huey, the Bizarros, the Rubber City Rebels and Rachel Sweet. London’s Stiff Records release an Akron compilation album. CBGB in New York City waived cover charges for people from Akron. A writer from The Village Voice put it this way in 1978: “Something is obviously going on out there.”
  • The 1,500-seat Goodyear Theater, once used only for employees of the tire company, has gone through a multi-million-dollar renovation, providing a state-of-the-art venue in the city’s East End development.
  • For a more complete list of live music and other cultural events, visit ArtsNow is a nonprofit that links artists in Summit County to each other and the public and also advocates on behalf of artists, venues and arts-related groups.

We Know How to Play.

  • The Akron RubberDucks, our AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, play in Canal Park downtown. Watching baseball’s rising stars at a bargain price and with a bellyful of burgers is a little slice of heaven.
  • It’s got a name almost as long as its course. It’s the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. The fun begins with an 8K in June and a half marathon and 10K in August. They lead up to the marquee marathon, half marathon and team relays in September. About 120,000 volunteers help the event go off smoothly, and it seems half the population lines the route to cheer. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and FirstEnergy Corp. are among the corporate sponsors.
  • Like the Akron Marathon, the Towpath Trilogy is a race series. It begins with a half marathon in April, a 10-mile or 10K run in June culminating in a marathon along the historic Towpath Trail at the height of leaf season in October.
  • Wadsworth was once a center for matchmaking—literally. It was home to the famous Blue Tip match company. The Matchstick Challenge (Take your pick of a 5K, 10K or half marathon.) takes place during the city’s five-day Blue Tip Festival in June.
  • The Huntington Bank Century Ride is a 101-mile bike ride through the Ohio & Erie Canalway, which Congress has designated a National Heritage Area.
  • If walking is more your speed, try the fall and spring hiking sprees through the Summit Metro Parks.
  • The University of Akron’s men’s soccer team, one-time national champs, is regularly ranked in the Top 10 in the NCAA men’s soccer poll. The team has cultivated many of Major League Soccer’s best players. There are 20-25 UA grads in the MLS at any give time; many others play internationally. Join the AK-Rowdies, a raucous group that cheers at UA games.
  • Although there are plenty of sports in Greater Akron, we’ve been known to travel a half hour north to watch the professional Cleveland teams: the red-hot Indians (MLB), Cavaliers (NBA) and Browns (NFL).
  • Derby Downs, on Akron’s east side, has been the home of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby since it was built as a WPA project in 1936. USA Today and National Geographic have called the derby an “icon” of Americana. The racers reach speeds in excess of 30 mph, which may not sound fast until you’re sitting in a car, dropping down a 16 percent grade. And that’s a possibility. The track can now be rented for outside events.

We Color The World.

  • If your walls are bare, no worries. The Akron Art Library lets you check out—as in borrow—artwork by local and international artists.
  • The Akron Children’s Museum teaches kids about science, math, arts and cultures through play. Interactive exhibits promote exploration.
  • By focusing on art from 1850 onward, the Akron Art Museum has one of the finest collections of contemporary art in the nation. Admission is free on Thursdays.
  • Tom Batiuk, creator of the “Funky Winkerbean” and “Crankshaft” comic strips, lives and works in Greater Akron.
  • Summit Artspace is a nonprofit dedicated to providing studio and gallery space for artists at all points on their creative journeys. It has locations in downtown Akron and Barberton.
  • Need some wardrobe inspiration? Kent State University’s The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising is routinely rated in the top five in the nation and among the best in the world. Its eight-gallery museum features changing exhibitions of many of the world’s great designers and costumers.
  • The City of Kent has several galleries in its funky downtown district that show works by both students and professionals.
  • Cuyahoga Valley Art Center, a nonprofit organization, promotes an appreciation of the fine and applied arts through exhibits, programs and classes.
  • Although the actual village of refurbished rail cars and shipping containers is still in the early stages, the Akron Soul Train has been rolling along, offering one- to six-month fellowships for artists and writers.
  • Rubber City Prints is a nonprofit fine arts education print shop that shares the tools and knowledge for making and working with prints and related arts.
  • The Emily Davis Gallery at The University of Akron brings in exhibitions of contemporary artists and, most importantly, showcases the works of university students and faculty at the Mary S. Myers School of Art.
  • The TechZone@Main is the Akron library’s makerspace. It has 40 computers and a variety of free and low-cost tools, including a laser engraver, vinyl printer, green screen room, design computers, button/magnet maker, sewing equipment and a media transfer station.
  • The Downtown Akron Artwalk features two dozen destinations for art appreciation, shopping, dining and entertainment. Travel by foot or trolley.