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At the center and out in the community, the Wex offers programs to engage audiences of all ages, races, ethnicities, faiths, political persuasions, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We consider the arts to be an essential pathway to cross-cultural understanding, positive societal change, and community-building.
For 30 years, the Wex has served as an open forum and gathering place to explore contemporary issues through the arts, providing a platform for a plurality of voices and contributing to community cohesion. Programs have sparked dialogue about such issues as race, class, gender, climate change, immigration, global strife, labor, and income inequality through panel discussions, gallery talks, and endowed lectures. Most of these events are free, eliminating barriers to engagement. Film series, such as Unorthodocs and Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film, raise timely topics and are coupled with Q&As with filmmakers. Performing artists likewise have recently tackled everything from food access to black oppression. Visual artist Maya Lin’s work in our fall exhibition HERE asks us to question the impact of fracking and climate change on Ohio’s aquifers and waterways.
The Wex cultivates relationships with organizations actively working to combat social injustice and inequities. The exhibition LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze, about the devastating consequences of the Lordstown auto plant closing, will result in a partnership with the local UAW chapter and other workers’ rights groups, while a performance by Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, featuring actors with intellectual disabilities, allows for collaboration with groups that serve people on the autism spectrum. The Wex has deep roots in the nearby Weinland Park neighborhood, engaging with students at Weinland Park Elementary School and spearheading grassroots initiatives in partnership with social-service agencies, local artists and teens, the Weinland Park Community Civic Association, and other neighborhood groups on such initiatives as artist-led Fallen Fruit parks and the Weinland Park Billboard Project.
Overall, including through its Art & Resilience programming—which focuses on mindfulness and healing from physical and emotional trauma—the Wex strives to foster a sense of community, inclusion, and well-being through the arts.