The Pump House Center for Art + Culture will transform and activate the vacant Pump House building at 411 Ira Ave next to Summit Lake into an active neighborhood art, event, and performance space. The space will provide local youth creative educational and employment opportunities and serve as an intergenerational gathering place for neighborhood residents, hosting community meals, classes, art shows, musical performances, film screenings, and more.
The project is spearheaded by the League of Creative Interventionists, led by artist Hunter Franks, with Knight Foundation support. Partners include the City of Akron and Let's Grow Akron, and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. We need your help to co-create this space! Scroll down to find out more info and sign up to volunteer or for our mailing list.
Want to learn more or get involved? Fill out the form below or get in touch at email@example.com and we will be in touch soon.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
Who are the League of Creative Interventionists?
The League of Creative Interventionists is a national organization with a chapter in Akron. The League uses public participatory art to create spaces to prompt curiosity, connection, and creativity. We have been working in Akron for three years, most recently organizing a citywide meal for 500 people on the Innerbelt Freeway. Hunter Franks is the Artistic Director of the League. Anne Koller is the Programs Manager and Summit Lake resident Stephanie Leonardi is the Project Manager for this project.
Why the Pump House?
We have worked on projects with organizations throughout Akron and upon getting to know the Summit Lake neighborhood, we were struck by the beauty of the lake and people. We talked to residents and heard the need for employment, education, and intergenerational connection. The Pump House is a beautiful and historic building that has been sitting vacant for at least 10 years. At the same time, there is a lack of creative and event space in the neighborhood and in Akron. Our hope is that transforming the Pump House into an active and vibrant space for creativity and culture will grow connections between neighbors, new jobs and skills, while cultivating joy and neighborhood pride.
How can I get involved?
We are co-creating this project with Summit Lake and Akron residents. The Project Manager for the project, Stephanie "Leo" Leonardi, is a Summit Lake resident who is active in the community. We are looking for more people to help out and get involved creating the neighborhood they want to see. If you are interested in offering your voice and skills to this project please email Leo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Stephanie "Leo" Leonardi
Around noon on November 5th, a sunny, colorful Saturday, over 100 neighbors, residents and guests started to trickle into the normally empty lot across from the Pump House building in Akron's Summit Lake neighborhood for the Pump House Community Day. They had gathered to celebrate community and share their ideas for what can happen in the building, which has been vacant for 13 years. Attendees wrote their ideas for programming on a giant chalkboard or individual sheets of paper.
Non-profit Let's Grow Akron showed off their adjacent community gardens and flock of chickens. Drummers from local groups Free World and Alchemy, along with local resident musician Dennis Oliver, set up a drumming circle and led the attendees in a creation story called "The Golden Age.” Ben Karam, a member of South Street Ministries, a local organization that has an active presence in the neighborhood, set up an inflatable bouncy house and a spin art table for kids.
Jan Green and Grace Hudson from Lets Grow Akron's canning crew had arrived early with chili and all the fixings to go with it. They had been working on it for two days. Along with them was a crew of collaborators, and a handful of teens manning the hand made pizza oven, which they had made two months earlier. The apple crisp dessert pizzas were delicious and plentiful. It was entertaining throughout the day to watch the teen chefs at work.
Attendees streamed in from both the neighborhood and the Towpath Trail, which runs next to the lake and provides a safe and accessible way for families to get to the Pump House. Folks received impromptu one on one lessons from the drummers, create funky art on a postcard, or took a peek inside the Pump House at all of the large machinery still inside. Jeff Horner was out on the pier prepared to fish with any kiddos that wondered up. Everybody had something to do, and if not something specific, just enjoying the day and the conversation with somebody while eating some deliciousness food seemed just as enjoyable.
The word 'multigenerational' has as many layers to it as it does syllables and that is what the community day at the Pump House showed us. It modeled what we would like to see continued, which was a range of ages of people engaged together in creative ways and learning and listening from each other. While interacting that day we were in the very act of creating it!