ArtsQuest Announces Next President & CEO‏

Kassie-HilgertOver the past 30 years, ArtsQuest has been honored to share some huge news with the community, most recently through the development of the SteelStacks arts and cultural campus. Today, we’re excited to share one of the biggest announcements in our history.

This afternoon, we announced that ArtsQuest Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement Kassie Hilgert will be named the next President & CEO of ArtsQuest.

Since joining ArtsQuest in 2008, Kassie has demonstrated amazing leadership abilities, an incredible passion for our arts and cultural mission and a thorough understanding of the Lehigh Valley and the many elements that make it so special. Kassie has developed numerous partnerships with local, regional and national corporate partners, community organizations and foundations, helping ArtsQuest greatly expand its arts and cultural programming in recent years. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement, she is responsible for overseeing the sponsorship, marketing, development, ticketing, public relations and volunteer departments, which include 27 full- and part-time employees dedicated to supporting our mission.

Over the next several months, Kassie will work closely with ArtsQuest Founder and current President Jeff Parks while meeting with ArtsQuest staff, board members, volunteers, sponsors, partners and members of our community. She will officially assume the President & CEO’s responsibilities when Jeff retires in January 2015.

As for Jeff, while he may be retiring after three decades dedicated to arts, culture and our community, he won’t be riding off into the sunset just yet. Starting in May 2015, Jeff will assume the part-time role as the new Executive Director of the ArtsQuest Foundation, the nonprofit foundation established to help ensure the long-term sustainability of our organization as we continue to grow and expand our programming for the region.

I invite you to congratulate Kassie on this great accomplishment when you see her. Under her leadership, along with the support of our dedicated and creative staff, board and volunteers, ArtsQuest will continue be a national leader in providing access to exceptional arts and cultural programs and events.

Joe Pietrantonio
President, ArtsQuest Board of Trustees

SteelStacks’ Success With World Cup Parties Raises Curiosity About Future Sporting Events

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Curt Mosel, for good reasons that didn’t initially occur to me, shot down my ideas.

I envisioned a cool fall night sitting on a lawn chair, beer in hand, watching the World Series among fellow baseball fans on the big screens at SteelStacks.

Then came the potential of football fans bundling up on Super Bowl Sunday and heading down to the South Bethlehem venue, where restaurant vendors would compete to serve the best hot chili to warm up the crowd as they watched the big game on the same screens.

The spring would come around, and those screens in the shadows of the Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces would air the NCAA tournament, giving folks in the Lehigh Valley an excuse to leave work a little early and cheer on an underdog while they took in perhaps the first day of pleasant weather after a long winter.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/nick-falsone/index.ssf/2014/07/steelstacks_success_with_world.html

ArtsQuest Plans Yearlong Effort Of Events To Support Bethlehem South Side

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ArtsQuest is organizing a yearlong effort to bring multiple art events to Bethlehem’s South Side business district.

The effort, called Artists Among Us, would include an Urban Arts Festival on the South Bethlehem Greenway, artists-in-residence working with city youth and a cast-iron block installation on the greenway highlighting the neighborhood’s many ethnic groups.

ArtsQuest is hoping to get a $300,000 grant from ArtPlace America, a nationwide arts foundation, to help fund the $500,000 initiative, ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks said today. ArtsQuest is one of 97 finalists for $20 million in available funding, Parks said.

ArtsPlace America officials encouraged ArtsQuest to publicize its grant application and will visit the city next week, so local officials are hopeful that they’ll receive money from the organization, said Patrick Brogan, ArtsQuest’s senior vice president of programming. ArtsQuest would still put on the Artists Among Us effort without the grant but it would include far fewer events, he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/03/artsquest_planning_yearlong_ef.html#incart_river

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Developers Hope To Attract Grocery Store To Former Bethlehem Steel Site

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Developers are seeking to attract a grocery store to the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. site on Bethlehem’s South Side.

Former Mayor John Callahan, now director of development for one of the site landowners, said Thursday that they’re looking to get a grocery store into the former Steel General Office building, or in a new building planned across East Third Street from the former Steel headquarters.

“I certainly have heard about the idea of putting a grocery store in part of the SGO project and I also believe that potential use would be a good fit for across the street,” said Callahan, who now works for attorney Michael Perrucci, part owner of Steel site co-owner BethWorks Now. “I think there’s only a need for one and it’s just a matter of trying to figure out where best to put it.”

At an unrelated news conference Thursday, ArtsQuest officials displayed a map that showed a future grocery store planned along with apartments and parking at the 13-story Steel General Office building. ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks said he got approval from Sands BethWorks officials to include the plans on the map.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/03/developers_seeking_to_attract.html

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Bethlehem Continues To Boost Christmas Events

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bethlehem keeps working to earn its Christmas City nickname.

The city may have more holiday events than ever this year: Christkindlmarkt is open for its 21st year, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is holding holiday tours and carriage rides for its 20th year and Center City’s Christmas City Village is returning for its third year.

The continued addition of holiday attractions has only helped existing events, operators said. Christkindlmarkt, a German-style holiday marketplace put on by ArtsQuest, had two of its three best years following the debut of the Downtown Bethlehem Association-organized Christmas City Village in 2011, ArtsQuest spokesman Mark Demko said.

Christmas City Village — an open-air German-style market also known as Weihnachtsmarkt — is adding another five huts for a total of 35 this year, Downtown Business Association Manager Kara Johnson said. And Historic Bethlehem is already ahead of schedule on pre-sale tour and carriage ride tickets, according to LoriAnn Wukitsch, the organization’s vice president and managing director.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2013/11/bethlehem_continues_to_boost_c.html

Jobs In Lehigh Valley Hit New Peak

After more than three years of sluggish job growth, the Lehigh Valley has replaced all of the roughly 25,000 jobs wiped out during the country’s worst economic crisis in generations.

The region had 351,400 jobs in April, a new high, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.  The old record of 350,200 was set in June 2007, just before the Great Recession hit, bringing 2 1/2 years of plant closures and cutbacks that put the local labor market in a tailspin.

The number of jobs in the Valley hit a recessionary low of 324,700 in January 2010 and has since been slowly recovering.

The private sector is driving job growth.  Gains in warehousing, tourism and business services were partially offset by cuts in government and public school jobs.  Warehousing and business services — a broad jobs category that includes bookkeepers, janitors, landscapers and engineers — both hit new highs in April.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-lehigh-valley-jobs-april-20130529,0,2958420.story

Peep Chick Drop And Fireworks To Ring In New Year At SteelStacks

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New York City may have Carly Rae Jepsen and its huge crystal ball, but Bethlehem has music from the indie rock band for kids Starfish and will drop a 75-pound light-up Peep to ring in the New Year.

“We’re really trying to create a Dick Clark of Bethlehem event,” Matt Pye, vice president of corporate affairs at Just Born, said Sunday, the first day of the city’s annual Peeps Fest.

Now in its fourth year, the annual family-friendly festival is put on by ArtsQuest and candy-maker Just Born. More than 8,000 people attended the festival last year.

This year, Peeps Fest has more interactive activities and the duration of the festival has been condensed from four to two days.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-peeps-fest-20121230,0,7670122.story

Massachusetts Looks To The Lehigh Valley For Inspiration

It’s a river city with quaint Victorian architecture once known for its pioneering manufacturing processes that gave America the industrial might to fight its wars.

But now, it’s re-imagining itself as a “knowledge corridor,” thanks to nearby colleges, and possibly as an entertainment center as gaming companies circle for a place to put a new casino.

That might sound a lot like Bethlehem.

But it’s Springfield, the biggest city in western Massachusetts.

As leaders there begin to dive into the details of reinventing the greater Springfield area, they are looking at Bethlehem as it enters its fourth year hosting a casino and the rest of the Lehigh Valley for advice and inspiration.

Read more:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-springfield-gaming-20121129,0,5144006.story

Musikfest Braces For Better Year After Record Loss

Musikfest was preparing to hit a high note last year, introducing the 10-day party of music and food to south Bethlehem at its ambitious new SteelStacks campus.

But rain doused the festival for six days, flooding the Monocacy Creek and closing down nearby venues on the north side. The festival lost $750,000 — triple the amount of its worst year since it began 28 years ago.

The deficit came in the very year its nonprofit organizer, ArtsQuest, could least afford it because of the uncertainty that came with launching its performing arts center at SteelStacks. The loss from Musikfest, which provides half the nonprofit’s revenue, pushed ArtsQuest into a $1 million operating loss, more than 5 percent of its budget.

So, as Musikfest opens Friday evening, its financial performance is stealing some of the spotlight.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/musikfest/mc-bethlehem-musikfest-preview-20120802,0,7463125.story

Oktoberfest To Expand At ArtsQuest’s SteelStacks

Oktoberfest, the most successful new festival in the first year of ArtsQuest’s SteelStacks campus in 2011, returns in October with new food, new contests and advance tickets that save festival-goers up to 25 percent, it was announced Monday.

The celebration of autumn and the Lehigh Valley‘s Germanic heritage, set for Oct. 5-7 and 12-14, will retain its most popular components: music, food, activities and, of course, beer. And it will have the same title sponsor: D.G. Yuengling & Son brewers.

“The first Oktoberfest celebration at SteelStacks was a huge hit, with nearly 25,000 people coming out,” said ArtsQuest Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Curt Mosel. “This year’s festival will feature even more attractions and special events, with something for all ages.”

Yuengling announced that the Yuengling Oktoberfest beer debuted at last year’s festival “was so well received that it will make a triumphant return in kegs and now bottles for 2012,” Yuengling Marketing Manager Jen Holtzman said.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/mc-oktoberfest-artsquest-bethlehem-20120730,0,6919333.story

Lehigh Valley Economy Boosted By Thriving Nonprofit Arts Sector

Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit arts community pumps $200 million annually into the region’s economy

The two tickets to a live opera rebroadcast at Allentown Symphony Hall were just the first things Jane Wells Schooley spent money on Thursday evening. Before the show, she and her granddaughter had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. They planned to get dessert at Rita’s Italian ice afterward.

Still, Schooley, of Lower Nazareth Township, considered the outing an excellent value.

“To be able to expose a young person to opera without spending $200!” she whispered as the curtains parted to a full-screen, high-definition view of the pit orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. “We are extremely fortunate to have the arts that we have in the Lehigh Valley.”

Fortunate indeed — and in more than one sense. The Valley’s many nonprofit arts and cultural organizations do more than provide diverse entertainment and intellectual stimulation. They also boost the local economy as patrons like Schooley, eager to take advantage of the region’s relatively inexpensive offerings, open their wallets before, during and after the main event.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-lehigh-valley-arts-impact-20120721,0,3268839.story

Sands Casino Plans Hotel And Mall In Bethlehem

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Image via Wikipedia

The very successful Sands Casino in Bethlehem is adding more attractions to lure gamblers.  A new 300-room hotel is opening by Memorial Day which will allow gamblers to make the Sands an overnight destination.  In addition, the casino is opening a 35-store mall on the property which will give gamblers (and non-gamblers) a shopping and dining diversion.  The mall has a proposed soft opening date of November 1st.  Grand opening is scheduled for President’s Day weekend, in February of 2012.

Another project in the works is a conference facility that could accommodate 2,500 people.  This would allow the casino to compete in the lucrative convention and trade show market.  The conference facility could become a reality by the end of the year.  There are eight other buildings on the site which the casino hopes to develop and a residential area is also being considered.

Adjacent to the casino is the Steel Stacks complex and ArtsQuest Center.  The ten-acre entertainment area includes a concert pavilion, farmers market, antique market for starters. 

The economic impact of these projects will benefit Bethlehem for generations to come.