|Allentown, PA — The Arts in the Lehigh Valley mean business—and jobs. That is the message being delivered today by Lehigh Valley Arts Council who announced it has joined the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. The research study is being conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education. It is the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.
As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Lehigh Valley Arts Council will collect detailed financial data about our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations such as our theater and dance companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations. “Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses,” said Mike Stershic, President of Discover Lehigh Valley, “but this study will make clear that the arts are a formidable industry in our community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism.”
Lehigh Valley Arts Council will also collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items such as meals, parking and transportation, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event. Previous studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.
Surveys will be collected throughout calendar year 2016. The results of the study will be released in June of 2017.
“Arts are key to the economic development in the Lehigh Valley and have never been more important,” says Randall Forte Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “Hundreds of creative industries, nonprofit cultural organizations, and thousands of individual artists of all disciplines—dance, musical, theatrical, visual, literary and media arts—are invested in our community.”
The 2010 economic impact study of the Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit arts industry revealed a $208 million industry—providing 7,114 full-time jobs and generating $21 million in state and local taxes annually. “Our Arts & Economic Prosperity series demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.” Complete details about the fiscal year 2010 study are available atwww.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact.
Americans for the Arts’ Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study is supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. In addition, Americans for the Arts’ local and statewide study partners are contributing both time and a cost-sharing fee support to the study. For a full list of the nearly 300 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study partners, visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP5Partners.
When talking about Braddock, Molly Rice and Jeffrey Carpenter avoid the word “revitalization.”
The term, they say, implies what already exists in the community isn’t vital, and, therefore, doesn’t apply to the historic town.
“Braddock isn’t what you might think it is. There are so many elements and varieties of colors and layers and things to see,” says Rice, a playwright who’s working with Carpenter’s Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions to bring her “Saints Tour” immersive theater experience to Braddock in May and June.
The show is one of many efforts to draw outsiders in while the community continues to move forward from its unstable past.
Shopping outside from store to store has almost become a thing of the past in some areas. But don’t tell that to downtowns in the Wyoming Valley, especially Wilkes-Barre and Pittston.
Downtown shopping in both communities is thriving thanks to the advancements each city has made over the past several years. Couple that with the excitement and enthusiasm of business owners and residents and youv’e got a recipe for success. The success in downtown Wilkes-Barre starts with Public Square.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association President John Mayday, who is a resident of South Wilkes-Barre and does all of his shopping in the downtown area, said the excitement and enthusiasm is something he hasn’t seen before. And it can only get better, he said.
“New businesses are constantly moving in,” he said. “Our mission is to create the opportunities for our customers and residents to come downtown. They’re been absolutely well-received by the public.”
While details at this time are not available, the Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown is reporting that Pottstown Borough Council has approved the Beech Street Lofts project for the old Fecera’s building. The building is currently vacant and in need of redevelopment.
This project will stabilize the neighborhood, provide traction for the arts community (ArtFusion 19464 and Steel River Playhouse) and send a clear message that Pottstown is serious about revitalization. We believe this will be the transformative project that jump starts a wave of redevelopment in the borough.
You can find more information about the project here: https://www.facebook.com/beech.streetlofts?fref=ts
We here at Roy’s Rants wholeheartedly support the Fecera’s project as the needed catalyst for revitalization in Pottstown Borough. One large project that is successfully completed will demonstrate to other developers and investors that the climate has changed. A large, empty building does nothing except breed blight and crime. A restored, well lighted and full building will transform a neighborhood. Council needs to approve this project for the betterment of Pottstown. Failure to do so will contribute to the downward spiral of this once great community.
Arts Industry Comprises 3.8% of All Businesses and 2.3% Percent of the Employment in the Lehigh Valley region
Lehigh Valley, PA – A new research study published by Americans for the Arts uses statistical data to quantify the scope and economic importance of the arts in the Lehigh Valley region, or Carbon, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties. The Creative Industries are defined as arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. Arts businesses and the creative people they employ stimulate innovation, strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, and play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy.
The Creative Industries in the Lehigh Valley include 1,405 nonprofit and for-profit businesses, employing 7,714 employees—comprising 3.8% of all businesses and 2.3% of the people they employ, according to the Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts in the Lehigh Valley report. The findings are based on an analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data, the most comprehensive and trusted source for business information in the United States. The study was conducted by Americans for the Arts—the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education—and includes analyses of 11,000 unique political and geographic regions in the U.S. The data are current as of January 2014.
The analysis demonstrates a larger-than-expected prevalence of arts business establishments, while the mapping analysis shows that these businesses are broadly distributed and thriving throughout the Lehigh Valley and not, as is sometimes believed, strictly in the downtown areas.
“The scope and numbers of the arts businesses represented in the Creative Industries Study reinforce the importance of the arts to our local economy and quality of life.” says Randall Forte, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “The arts are about jobs, jobs, and more jobs and deserve a seat at the economic development table.”
Arts Industry Resilient
Nationwide, the Creative Industries reports reveal that arts businesses are formidable: 750,453 businesses involved in the creation or distribution of the arts employ 3.1 million people. This represents 4.2% of all U.S. businesses and 2.1% of all U.S. employees, respectively. One of the remarkable national findings from the research, which dates back to 2004, is that arts businesses and employment have maintained this share of businesses and employment during the nation’s up and down economic cycles—demonstrating that the Creative Industries are as resilient and durable as other sectors of the economy.
“The Creative Industries reports are powerful tools for understanding what a major force arts and culture businesses are for the economy—not only nationally, but also locally, in every community across our country,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These reports should be in every legislator’s office and every city hall, reminding community leaders that the arts are key drivers of the local economy, new employers, jobs, and improvement of the quality of life through their work. The Creative Industries say one thing loud and clear: the arts mean business!”
ABOUT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES REPORTS
The Creative Industries reports are created by Americans for the Arts using Dun & Bradstreet business data. Downloadable reports for the nation’s 435 federal legislative districts, all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 3,144 counties, and 7,400 state legislative districts, along with national comparative reports, can be freely downloaded at http://www.AmericansForTheArts.org/CreativeIndustries.
About the Lehigh Valley Arts Council
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is a nonprofit 501(c)3, membership-supported organization that serves as a regional advocate and ambassador for the Lehigh Valley arts community. Its mission is to promote the arts; to encourage and support artists and their development; to assist arts organizations; and to facilitate communication and cooperation among artists, arts organizations and the community. Through collaborative partnerships, it continues to provide access to the local arts community through education, research, professional development seminars and cooperative marketing initiatives.
ALLENTOWN, PA — In the center of this city’s downtown is a Civil War monument complete with a sailor, artilleryman, infantryman and a cavalry soldier.
It is very similar to the one in Lancaster’s Penn Square, but larger.
That’s fitting for a city with twice the population and twice the land area as Lancaster.
And for a city that has experienced proportionally larger swings of fortune.
In Glassboro’s historic downtown, the story of one building chronicles the district’s past – and, perhaps, its future.
A colorful storefront at 11 E. High St. that now houses an artsy glass business previously held a short-lived studio and art gallery, a locally owned coffee shop, and, as far back as the mid-1900s, a neighborhood grocery store that was reportedly the first in the town to sell frozen food.
Once thriving and serving the everyday needs of nearby residents, this downtown district is the subject of a revitalization campaign as borough officials try to build on the success of nearby Rowan University and create a vibrant arts community.
A blacktop connection, Rowan Boulevard, which is a new roadway and $300 million redevelopment project, broke ground in 2009. But a vacant lot between the boulevard and the longtime downtown area – described by one person as the “gray area” between the old and new – testifies to the work still to be done.
The words effortlessly pour out of Carla Christopher’s mouth whether she’s behind a mic reading an original poem, or sitting at a coffee table at New Grounds talking about arts in the City of York.
She’s no stranger to the talk or the mic, as she just completed a three-year stint as the city’s poet laureate.
But now, York has tasked her with a new goal — one that’s already near and dear to her heart: arts and culture liaison.
“Carla’s ability to connect to so many different people needed to be capitalized upon,” Mayor Kim Bracey said.
POTTSTOWN, PA – The latest show at ArtFusion helps prove true the old adage that “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Titled ReSourced, the show will be an amazing display of creative reuse. Local artists have created work from recycled, upcycled and salvaged items. Visitors to ArtFusion will be delighted by the wide range of pieces on display, from functional clothing to gorgeous free-standing sculptures.
Each visitor will also have a chance to contribute to a fun public art project. Throughout the show, which runs from March 21 through May 3, visitors will have a chance to add to a large scale, recycled weaving project. The weaving will be created from plastic bags, paper, VCR tapes, and more. The piece can be seen as it grows in the front window of the ArtFusion gallery.
Participating artists are: Alita Abruzzzese, Lisbeth Bucci, Robyn Burckhardt, Tom Carroll, Arline Christ, Maggie Creshkoff, James M. Enders, Juanita A. Gaspari, Robert Hakun, Heidi Hammel, Joe Hoover, Millie Lea, Dora Siemel, Carla Schaeffer, Teresa Shields, Donna Steck-McMahon, and Julie Tonnessen.
There will be an opening reception for ReSourced on Friday, March 21 from 6-8pm. All receptions are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. A $100 Best in Show prize, sponsored by the NARI-BIE Green Team, will be presented at 6:30pm.
In conjunction with this show, ArtFusion is offering free field trips to local schools. Over 550 children have currently signed up for a fun, interactive experience. Students will learn about and discuss recycling, why it is important to the future of our planet, and how artists create with objects other people throw away. Each student will also create their own unique piece of recycled art. This show will help teach local children the importance of caring for our planet and will inspire them to look at the world–and how people create art–in a whole new way.
ArtFusion 19464 is a 501(c)3 non-profit community art center located at 254 E. High St. in downtown Pottstown. The school offers day, evening and weekend classes to all ages. The goal of these classes is to help students develop their creative skills through self-expression and independence. ArtFusion’s gallery hosts rotating shows featuring local artists. The gallery also sells handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gift items. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am-5pm and Saturday 10am-3pm. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday.
The Beech Street Factory is a $12.5-million, 30-year investment in Pottstown’s future. With this project, Genesis Housing Corporation and Housing Visions propose not only to rehabilitate a vacant, prominent building in the Borough’s National Register Historic District, but also to spark renewed focus on the arts in Pottstown.
Pottstown has seen a cultural resurgence in recent years. Decades of hard work by organizations such as ArtFusion, Steel River Playhouse, the Pottstown Area Artists’ Guild, Montgomery County Community College, The Hill School Farnsworth Art Museum, and other arts-oriented organizations have highlighted the importance of cultivating visual, performing, and ﬁne arts in Pottstown. More recently, the formation of CreativeMontCo has solidiﬁed county-wide interest in the arts. And ongoing investment by Genesis Housing Corporation, Mosaic Community Land Trust, the National Trust Main Street Program, and the Borough of Pottstown have helped to strengthen the overall quality of life in in the Borough by enhancing the public streetscape and laying the groundwork for further investment.
The Beech Street Factory proposes to capitalize on these long-standing efforts and help take them to the next level. Through their development expertise and knowledge of funding programs, Housing Visions and Genesis are planning to convert the old Fecera’s furniture warehouse into a 60,000-square-foot, mixed-use arts center. The ground floor will include 3,000 square feet of energy-efficient, financially sustainable space for ArtFusion, Pottstown’s long-running and much-loved non-profit community arts center.. And the remainder of the building will provide 43 loft, industrial-style apartments to artists and other interested residents. With 14 unique floor plans, exposed brick walls, plenty of natural light, and amenities including a landscaped courtyard, community room, resident computer lab, elevator, and off-street parking, the Beech Street Factory will provide inspiring spaces for Pottstown’s creative community to call home.
The combination of commercial and residential space will ensure a “24-hour” community at the Beech Street Factory, where the busy hum of ArtFusion students during the day gives way to quiet creativity among individual residents at night. The Beech Street Factory will seek to engage with the larger Pottstown community by hosting gallery events at ArtFusion and in the building’s resident community room and open front porch. Residents will be encouraged through Housing Visions scholarships to take classes at ArtFusion, and similarly, members of ArtFusion may wish to apply for residency at the Factory. Additionally, Housing Visions plans to market the residential units to qualified tenants throughout the region by advertising in local arts publications, print and social media, and at local arts events.
The Beech Street Factory provides the catalyst for a renewed conversation about creating a formal Pottstown Arts District. The developers plan to participate on a new Arts Task Force, supporting the Mosaic Community Land Trust in their effort to create an Artist Relocation Program around homeownership in the Beech Street Neighborhood. Through Housing Tax Credit funding, Housing Visions commits its expertise and resources to help improve the quality of life in Pottstown over the next 30 years. By sharing their extensive experience in creative ﬁnancing and redevelopment of historic properties, Housing Visions and Genesis hope to foster a renewed, stronger emphasis on neighborhood revitalization and quality of life in Pottstown.
By Heather Schroeder, Development Project Manager, Housing Visions
Editor’s thoughts: This project is gaining supporters. Here is this list, so far:
U.S. Representative Gerlach
Steel River Playhouse
Michael Horn, Architect
We feel this project could be the “game changing” catalyst that will finally propel Pottstown’s Arts Revitalization movement forward. Successful completion of a major project in Pottstown would send the signal to funding agencies, investors and developers that Pottstown is now working together toward a common goal. We urge Pottstown Borough Council to get on board with this project.
The biggest thing holding Pottstown back has been the inability of all parties to find common ground and work together. Now that Housing Visions has gotten on board with Pottstown’s desire to be something more than another dumping ground for Montgomery County’s social service ills, and made significant changes to this project, we feel this version is now worthy of our support as well.
We feel the last paragraph regarding the creation of an “arts district” and an artist relocation program is a key component of this project. We have posted about Oil City‘s artist relocation program and how it has helped transform this much smaller and more remote community in Venango County. Pottstown’s excellent location and easy access to Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lancaster only improve the chances for success.
We think you will see support continue to build from other stakeholders in the Tri-County area. A revitalized Pottstown benefits EVERYBODY in the 19464,19465 zip codes, and beyond.
Build it and filmmakers will come. Build it and jobs will come and lift Norristown to prosperity.
That dream fizzled like a box-office bomb last May, when the project’s investor filed for foreclosure against the developer.
The forlorn shopping center, Logan Square, sits half-empty, its fate likely to be announced in the coming weeks. The county is grappling with how to recoup the $25 million it sank into the project — including $10 million in federal funds it must repay — and its lawyers are preparing a lawsuit against the developer. And prosecutors are scrutinizing the deal to see if more than bad luck and poor judgment were to blame.
If it is done right, you don’t think about anything but the art when you walk into a gallery.
No thoughts about the work behind it all: how the art got there, the way it was hung, how it was promoted or what happened to the artwork that used to be up on the wall.
At Red Raven Art Co., that’s all the job of Lee Lovett, who has managed the gallery at 138 N. Prince St. since October 2006, just five months after it opened.
“I do everything from contacting artists, sending out contracts and hanging the gallery each month with a new show to designing the postcards and ads, managing and uploading our website, and finally handling all the accounting and bookkeeping,” she says.
EVERY WEEKDAY, the 40 members of the Pennsylvania Ballet arrive from all over the region for a 9:30 a.m. class at the Ballet’s new headquarters on North Broad Street.
The leap from the old studios on South Broad, 10 blocks south of City Hall, to what is called Avenue of the Arts North is an important part of what city officials want to see happening on North Broad, seen for years as drab and boring.
The Ballet moved into its new space in January. The building, on the former site of a garage for armored trucks, has an entrance across Wood Street from Roman Catholic High School, and is known as the Louise Reed Center for Dance.
Location was everything, said executive director Michael Scolamiero.
Banks moved out, theaters moved in, and – if the price of real estate in the neighborhood is any sign – things got a lot better around South Broad Street after the birth of the Avenue of the Arts.
Back in 1993, Peter C. Soens recalls, he sold the former Girard Bank building at Broad and Chestnut Streets, now home to the Ritz-Carlton, for $2 million.
Soon afterward, Soens, a partner at the commercial building broker and manager SSH Real Estate, sold One East Penn Square, across from City Hall, for $2.1 million.
By contrast, Soens said recently, “last year, 260 S. Broad St., a similar-sized building, also basically empty, sold for $27.5 million.” The buyer, Post Bros., says it will convert the former Atlantic office building to apartments.
Editor’s note: While we 100 percent support any adaptive reuse projects in Pottstown, we are greatly concerned about the involvement of a low-income housing tax credit. This project, if done correctly, could be a HUGE shot in the arm to this neighborhood and solidify the borough’s claim to be moving towards becoming an arts designation (which we 110 percent support).
That being said, private sector investment is needed, not more glorified Section 8 housing. In our humble opinion, this is the “easy way out”. It might be harder to find private sector dollars but the payoff is greater. Other communities are successfully finding investors who are converting old building into MARKET RATE apartments and condominiums. I am all for affordable housing but any involvement of Section 8/low-income funding taints the project.
Pottstown needs to have a better opinion of itself and not settle for the first offer that falls from the sky. Section 8 and low-income housing do not raise property values nor do they change people’s minds about Pottstown. Somebody needs to be courageous and just say no. Find another way.
POTTSTOWN — The moribund plan to transform the former Fecera’s furniture warehouse on Beech Street into artist loft apartments returned to borough council Wednesday night with new backers and a new twist.
Genesis Housing Inc., the non-profit agency which engineered the development of the former Jefferson School into senior rental housing and has rehabilitated dozens or blighted properties in the first ward into owner-occupied homes, is partnering with a Syracuse non-profit housing agency on a $12 million plan to develop the property into 43 apartments targeted toward artists.
The difference is in addition to securing an historic architecture tax credit for the project, the developers, HousingVisions, are also seeking a low-income housing tax credit, the same kind sought in 2010 for the controversial Pearl senior housing proposal along Industrial Highway — and that raised a few eyebrows on borough council.
“I’m still not sold,” Borough Council President Stephen Toroney said. “This is the same tax credit that was sought by the Pearl Group and that was for a 55-and-older community and people still came out and protested.”
Lancaster County is growing, but the growth is slowing.
That report in last week’s Sunday News undoubtedly gave advocates of agricultural preservation and open space cause to celebrate. After a 30-year period (from 1980 to 2010) of 43.3 percent population growth, the percentage is projected to be 25.5 percent by 2040.
While that translates into another 132,555 residents — moving the population from 519,445 in 2010 to 652,000 in 2040 — what gives us pause is the demographics of the projected growth.
Lancaster County planners said the biggest bump in population is expected to come from people older than 65. In other words, the county, already on its way to becoming a retirement mecca, will be growing by graying.
Her travel plans to the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts were set a week in advance.
But early Sunday morning, Gail Rosenkrantz woke up in her New York apartment, hailed a cab to the Port Authority and wasn’t quite sure about where she was going.
Finally, after catching the 9 a.m. Bieber Tourways bus to Reading, she sat down and heard the question that was already on her mind: “Why are you going to Reading? It’s so dangerous,” another passenger asked.
Upon arriving at her destination, however, the 72-year-old legal secretary walked into the inaugural arts festival Reading and found the soft silk scarves she sought, along with welcoming gestures from strangers.
On Saturday night, Phil Walz, executive director of the Greater Akron Musical Association Inc., worked through a major symphony concert, then handed over his keys. On Sunday, he packed his truck and drove to Pennsylvania.
Today, he begins work as the new executive director of the eight-year-old GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Second and Washington streets.
“I see the opportunity to work in Reading as a real honor,” said Walz, 54. “The GoggleWorks’ mission ‘to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education, and enrich the community’ is simple yet inspiring.”
He replaces Diane LaBelle, who had overseen the 2004 transformation of a vacant, four-story factory that once made safety equipment into a series of artists’ studios and public spaces, then led its operation for six years. She left in June 2010.