|Lehigh Valley arts and cultural organizations will be welcoming patrons with intellectual, sensory and physical disabilities as a result of the effort of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council (LVAC) and the Lehigh Valley Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community (Partnership).
They will host an “Arts & Access” reception on July 24, 2015, to launch the yearlong plan to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through the lens of the arts. The event will be held 4:30-6 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Health & Technology Center, 850 S. 5th St., Allentown. It is open to the public, particularly to anyone with a disability.
“Access to the arts is more than just building a ramp,” said Randall Forte, LVAC Executive Director. “To be truly accessible to those with disabilities, performing and visual arts groups need to make important changes in the way they have always done things.”
With the guidance of VSA PA, LVAC has developed staff training and promotional programs to help local arts organizations learn how to remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying their offerings. More than 30 arts organizations have already agreed to move toward greater inclusion and make accommodations for people with disabilities.
Workshops will continue this year on implementing open captioning and audio description for people with vision and hearing loss. Open Captioning provides the audience with an electronic text display to the side of the stage, displaying lyrics, dialogue, and sound effects in real time. Audio Description is a form of audio-visual translation, using natural pauses to insert narrative that translates the visual image into an audible form. Patrons use headsets to hear the audio description.
Together, the arts council and partnership hope to accomplish the following goals:
For more information, visit ArtsandAccess.org
Addressing a need
The 2012 U.S. Census estimated that more than 12 percent of the Valley’s non-institutionalized population lives with some kind of disability. That’s a potential arts audience of about 81,000 people. “Arts groups should realize that in the community with disabilities there is an untapped market for performing and visual arts,” said Forte.
Members of the Lehigh Valley Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community, a coalition of organizations that serve the diverse disabled community, asked the LVAC to involve arts groups in addressing this issue. To date, more than thirty arts and cultural organizations have agreed to participate, including ArtsQuest, Allentown Art Museum, Lehigh University Art Galleries, Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, SATORI, and Williams Center for the Arts.
Arts & Access is already responsible for important changes in the way the arts are presented. For example, this fall the Lehigh University Art Galleries will debut a tactile description program in their teaching gallery, which uses technology to create a three-dimensional relief of a portion of the image for the person to explore through touch. Many local service providers, such as Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living and the Center for Vision Loss, are offering customer service training free-of-charge. For instance, the staff at Center for Vison Loss will work with ushers and box office personnel on how to interact with a person with vision loss. In addition to providing them audio-description, theatres may offer a pre-show sensory tour, where patrons arrive early, meet cast members and handle props and costume accessories.
The LVAC can connect presenters with affordable professionals who do American Sign Language interpreting, audio describing, and open captioning for live events and exhibitions. The council also offers audio-describer training and equipment for organizations who wish to train their in-house personnel. In addition, participants may apply to the council for a Greater Inclusion Grant, a matching grant for up to $300, to help fund a new initiative that meets the approved criteria.
The Americans for Disabilities Act, passed on July 26, 1990, prohibits discrimination against the disabled. It set in motion a frenzy of activity designed to prevent discrimination against those who have difficulty navigating modern life, particularly in employment, transportation, and public buildings. But the act did not specifically address the facilities used by the arts such as theaters, galleries, and auditoriums. http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor62335
L.V. Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community is a diverse network of more than 75 people and agencies in the Lehigh Valley united in the goal to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Their vision is to be a catalyst for change in making the Valley a disability-friendly community which is inclusive, accessible, and welcoming. http://disabilityfriendlylv.com/
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council acts as both advocate and catalyst to create new gateways, and bring people together to find solutions that advance greater arts participation. It promotes the arts, supports the development of artists, assists arts organizations, facilitates communication among its constituencies, and conducts research to measure the economic impact of the region’s cultural industry. http://www.lvartscouncil.org/
VSA ARTS in Pennsylvania shares its knowledge of inclusive arts education across Pennsylvania and works with artists with disabilities to develop professional careers.
Schedule for July 24 Launch Party
Free, wheelchair accessible parking is available in the Good Shepherd parking deck across from the Health & Technology Center on South 5th St.; it is connected to the center via a bridge on level three.
A Partial List of Arts Organizations participating in Arts & Access
Allentown Art Museum in collaboration with Via of the Lehigh Valley and artist Jill Odegaard
Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Raker Lecture Series
SATORI in collaboration painter William Christine at the Colonial Intermediate Unit #21
Williams Center for the Arts/ Lafayette College
The Celtic Cultural Alliance, host of the Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival, has set out to create one of the largest beer tastings in the Lehigh Valley (over 61 breweries participating).
Lehigh Valley HopsFest will happen on June 13th on the Celtic Classic competition field (Main & Lehigh Sts., Bethlehem). This fundraiser has been created to help us grow our mission of promoting and preserving the Celtic culture.
Click the link for more information and to buy tickets: http://www.celticfest.org/lv_hopsfest
As Center City Realtor Laurie Phillips paused in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia – her refuge, clubhouse, and second home for 32 years – Carol Tamburino approached her mournfully.
“We need a new hangout. Where are we going to go?” Tamburino lamented. “I’ve been crying. I’m really depressed over this.”
The hotel that redefined luxury in Philadelphia when it opened on Logan Square on July 31, 1983, closed Saturday, checking out its final guests and serving its last power breakfasts even as staff quietly whisked paintings off the walls.
The Four Seasons will return in 2018, reconstituted within the 59-story Comcast Innovation and Technology Center being built at 18th and Arch Streets – a move that will reduce the number of rooms by a third in the face of growing competition in the market. Its granite-clad longtime home, owned by Host Hotels & Resorts, will be renovated by Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group for a new luxury hotel. Details are to be released Tuesday.
Another great First Friday in Lancaster City. The day appeared to possibly be “iffy” weather wise but despite some ominous looking clouds at one point in the afternoon, the sky cleared in the early evening and the sun came back out.
There were a bevy of food trucks on the plaza next to the Hotel Lancaster. Musicians lined the streets. The pianos are back and we didn’t pass one that somebody was playing. We even heard some very good jazz being played in Lancaster Square. People from many cultures mingled and enjoyed the entertainment, shopping, eating and warmer weather. The Lancaster Police Department was present along with the Ambassadors ensuring everyone behaved themselves. There was even a break dancing competition going on next to the food trucks that drew a very large crowd.
We also checked out the new pop up pocket park on Prince Street before the First Friday throng arrived. What a nice thing for tourists and city residents, alike. A coffee company and an ice cream vendor (selling Carmen & David’s ice cream) have set up shop here. The park makes use of a parking lot which eventually will be a boutique hotel. The asphalt was been painted, trees and flowers and seating were added. There was even a television crew there from Blue Ridge Cable TV who were filming and interviewing the vendors. Many people were checking this out. When we went by much later in the day it was very full! People were really liking the space!
Lancaster is such a great example of what revitalization can do for a downtown. Up until the 90’s there was no reason go to downtown (other than Central Market). Now, it’s full of shops and restaurants. There are always people on the streets taking advantage of all downtown has to offer. There is nothing better than spending time in a vibrant city!
To check out Passenger Coffee Roasters, click on
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, PA — A new study reveals that Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza contributed $62.6 million to the economy in 2013, and expansion of the concourse is expected to pump in an additional $7 million this year.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance was contracted by the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, the governing body of the arena, in May 2014 to conduct the study on behalf of the authority. The NEPA Alliance released the study Thursday.
The economic impact analysis considers three things:
The overall impact of the operations of the arena, which includes the impact from visitors traveling from outside the impact region (farther than 15 miles).
Protected bike lanes along Penn Avenue saw more than 24,000 bike trips in May, according to figures the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership release Thursday.
The bike lanes, installed in September 2014, eliminated a lane for vehicles with bollards along the route. Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in mid-April installed three mechanical counters across the width of the bike lane on the 600, 900, and 1200 blocks of Penn Avenue to track usage.
Area congressmen are optimistic that federal funds will be available soon for a full year’s work of upgrading locks and dams on the lower Monongahela River.
John Rizzo, spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, said Wednesday a bill with $52 million for the Lower Mon Project was released May 21 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Matt Dinkel, spokesman for Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said that $52 million is included in House of Representatives Bill 2028, an appropriations measure passed May 1.
Part of a $1.7 billion project, the $52 million is to be used in fiscal 2015-16 at the Charleroi No. 4 Locks and Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers.
That’s part of a project to upgrade Charleroi No. 4 and Braddock No. 2 locks and dams and eliminate Elizabeth No. 3 Locks and Dam.
COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP, PA — What caused a fatal collision between a tour bus and two tractor-trailers that killed three and wounded more than a dozen on a busy stretch of Poconos interstate remained unknown Wednesday afternoon as state troopers continued an investigation.
Wednesday’s wreck involved two tractor-trailers and an Italian tour bus on Interstate 380 North near mile marker 4. The crash happened at 10:09 a.m., state police said. The bus carrying an Italian tour group left the New York City metro area at 7:30 a.m. for Niagara Falls, a spokesman for Academy Bus said this afternoon.
“We can confirm that one of the deceased is the bus driver,” Brian Dickerson said in an email. “We offer our condolences to the family of this valued member of our Academy team, as well as to the families of others tragically affected by this accident. We also extend our thoughts to the injured.”
Dickerson did not identify the bus driver, who had “more than a decade of experience behind the wheel.”
SLS Hotels puts its chicly designed, lavishly appointed lodgings in the U.S. cities most associated with luxury travel and youthful, free-spending abandon: Beverly Hills. South Beach. Las Vegas.
Philadelphia is now on that elite list.
After years of planning, work is set to begin in the fall on the 152-guest-room SLS Lux Philadelphia Hotel & Residences. It will rise 47 stories a few blocks south of City Hall and could open as soon as spring 2018.
The California-based hotel chain, part of hospitality mogul Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group, is betting on Philadelphia’s budding sophistication as a shopping, dining, and sightseeing destination as it targets moneyed visitors seeking less-staid alternatives to the city’s existing stock of high-end accommodations.
SEPTA plans to spend up to $154 million for 18 new Regional Rail locomotives, the authority’s biggest railroad acquisition in a decade.
The electric locomotives would replace eight aging engines operating on the Lansdale-Doylestown, Paoli-Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington-Newark lines, and add capacity to other regional lines.
The SEPTA board is expected to approve the purchase on Thursday, with the locomotives to be delivered in 2018.
SEPTA is buying 13 “Cities Sprinter” ACS-64 locomotives to be built by Siemens Industry Inc., the German conglomerate, at its factory in Sacramento, Calif. The price includes an option for five additional locomotives.
PATCO finally rolled out the first of its refurbished rail cars Thursday morning, with local officials promising the $194 million overhaul will mean new levels of comfort, safety and reliability for commuters who travel between South Jersey and Center City.
The rebuilt cars, with new interiors, electronics and heating systems, are more than a year late returning to service from a factory in Hornell, N.Y., because of persistent problems fine-tuning an automatic signal system that gives operating instructions to the trains.
All systems, including new visual and audio station announcements, appeared to work flawlessly Thursday on the first train’s inaugural trip from Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill to the subway stop at 8th and Market streets in Center City.
Philadelphia wants to buy the 27-acre property known as International Plaza on Route 291 in Tinicum Township, Delaware County, as part of a long-range expansion of Philadelphia International Airport.
An ordinance was introduced in City Council on Thursday, paving the way for the city-owned airport to purchase the complex, which has two office buildings that were once the corporate headquarters of Scott Paper Co.
The former Scott Plaza site is owned by a joint venture of affiliates of New York-based private equity firm Angelo Gordon & Co. and Amerimar Enterprises Inc., a commercial real estate development and management company.
“We are in the loop on this,” said Gerald Marshall, president and CEO of New York-based Amerimar Enterprises. “Yes, we are willing to sell it.”
Pittsburgh International Airport’s status as a former hub facility with space to spare helped draw OneJet, a new corporate jet carrier seeking to gain a foothold inside Concourse D.
“That’s one of the reasons Pittsburgh is one of the top five cities we put in place early on,” said CEO Matthew Maguire. “We see a bigger vision for it beyond the user service.”
OneJet, catering to business travelers on seven-seat Hawker 400s, launched between Milwaukee and Indianapolis in April, and Pittsburgh this month. A fourth destination will be announced within two months. Down the road, OneJet plans to add crews and maintenance operations in Pittsburgh.
OneJet’s business model focuses on gate-to-gate travel between midsized cities, allowing direct flights to destinations that otherwise involve lengthy layovers. A trip to Indianapolis with a connection may take 4 1⁄2 hours, compared with the about 60-minute service on OneJet
The county airport authority wants West Mifflin’s Allegheny County Airport to be a destination — but not for commuter flights.
That sums up a meeting borough officials had Monday with new authority CEO Christina Cassotis that came 24 hours before a $1.5 million federal grant was announced for taxiway rehabilitation there.
“It was a positive meeting,” borough Manager Brian Kamauf said. “We discussed the history of the airport.”
It dates back to Pittsburgh and McKeesport’s window to the world between 1931 and 1952, when commercial service moved from West Mifflin to what then was Greater Pittsburgh Airport, now Pittsburgh International.
If you love bacon, beer and the beach, then a trip to York City might be worth your while this summer.
Downtown York might not be the island vacation you’ve been dreaming about, but you will be able to feel the sand between your toes during at least one York event this summer.
We spoke with Downtown Inc. marketing director Meagan Feeser and some downtown businesses about some of the events, attractions and activities coming to the city in the next few months.
See all ten reasons by clicking here:
In the seconds before Amtrak train No. 188 derailed at Frankford Junction, the train’s speed surged from 70 m.p.h. to 102 m.p.h. – more than twice the speed limit on the dangerous curve, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday.
Just before the crash, with the train traveling at 106 m.p.h., the train’s engineer, Brandon Bostian, hit his emergency brakes, NTSB officials said. But it was too late.
Two days after the deadliest train crash on the Northeast Corridor in three decades, the revelations on the train’s acceleration – while providing the most detailed account yet of the moments before the derailment – raised new questions about the 32-year-old engineer’s actions.
Officials involved in the investigation told The Inquirer that Philadelphia police earlier Thursday had obtained a search warrant for Bostian’s cellphone records. Those records would help investigators determine whether he could have been distracted – whether the phone had registered any activity in the moments before the crash.
No injuries have been reported in a freight train derailment in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
The train went off the rails about 10:15 a.m. on tracks near Irvine Street, according to emergency dispatchers.
About 10 freight cars derailed, and some of the cars blocked Irvine where the tracks crossed.
Work on the “Gap Bottleneck Project” is beginning to pick up, with a new traffic pattern established this week in the project area in eastern Lancaster County.
The new work is another step in the overall $9.9 million project that’s set for completion in October 2016.
For now, the new pattern is in place during overnight hours in the area of the Route 30/Route 41 project, the state Transportation Department announced.
A concrete barrier is being installed along the north side of Route 30 just east of the intersection with 41.