‘Arts And Access’ Launches Program For Greater Accessibility

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:
a) to convince cultural organizations to consider the community with disabilities as a viable market
b) to train arts presenters in how to adapt their work for an audience with varied disabilities.
c) to help arts organizations recognize the needs and the abilities of people with disabilities.
d) to work together to promote accessible events for people with disabilities and their families.

For more information, visit ArtsandAccess.org

Addressing a need
Most of us can go to a concert or play with little thought to attendance details. But those who experience hearing or vision loss, or have mobility or developmental challenges that require special accommodation, are often barred from cultural events.

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
4:30 p.m.

  • Guests greeted by The Miracle Movers cheerleaders from The Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley
  • Tours of “Beyond Limits”, the Heath & Technology facility

5:15 p.m.

  • Welcome by John Kristel, President and CEO, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
  • Remarks by Nelvin Vos, founding convener of the Partnership
  • Remarks by Randall Forte, Executive Director, LVAC

5:30 p.m.

  • Refreshments. Music by The Mississippi Mudders Dixieland Quintet

6 p.m.

  • Conclusion of event

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
Abbreviations used below: AD – Audio Described; ASL – American Sign Language; OC – Open Captioned;

Allentown Art Museum in collaboration with Via of the Lehigh Valley and artist Jill Odegaard
Contact: Julia Marsh, 610-432-4333, jmarsh@allentownartmuseum.org.
Thru October 11, 2015: “Woven Welcome: Making Community” a community weaving project that connect individuals and groups trough the creative process.

Contact: Mark Demko, 610-332-1341, mdemko@artsquest.org
December 19, 2015 – February 15, 2016: “Life Accessible” Photography Beyond the Limits of Life; at Banana Factory. Photographer Stephen Cunic uses braille techniques and braille labels to create stunning visuals for the visually impaired.

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre
Contact: Jessica Bien, 484-664-3807, bien@muhlenberg.edu.
July 26, 2015: AD and OC performance of “Hello Dolly” at 2:00 p.m.
July 18, 2015: Sensory-friendly performance of “GRIMM,” a children’s play for children with autism and their families, followed by an interactive workshop, at 1:00 p.m.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Contact: Jill Arington, 610-282-9455, jill.arington@pashakespeare.org
July 25, 2015: American Sign Language (ASL) performance of “Rapunzel” for hard of hearing children, 2:00 p.m.
August 1, 2015: Audio-described (AD) performance of “The Foreigner,” 2 p.m.

Raker Lecture Series
Contact: Nelvin Vos, nvos@ptd.net.
September 29, 2015: Daniel Lasko, retired Marine corporal, accomplished
athlete and member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team at 7:30 p.m. at Egner Chapel, Muhlenberg College. Presented by Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network.

SATORI in collaboration painter William Christine at the Colonial Intermediate Unit #21
Contact: Nora Suggs, Executive Director, 610-435-6036, nas0710@yahoo.com
October 23, 2015: “See the Music, Hear the Art” at 1:00PM at the CIU #21, Schnecksville. Blends chamber music, art narration and discussion, ASL interpreted.

Williams Center for the Arts/ Lafayette College
Contact: Kelly Prentice, 610-330-5203, prentick@lafayette.edu
September 15, 2015: Dance for PD® Workshop for Parkinson patients, care takers and dance teachers at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

About the Lehigh Valley Arts Council

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is the region’s central voice for the arts, promoting arts awareness and advocating its value while strengthening access to the arts for all citizens in our community. The Arts Council’s 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. Services include arts research and advocacy, professional development seminars, publications, and cooperative regional marketing initiatives.


Lehigh Valley Arts Council

840 Hamilton Street, Suite 201
Allentown, PA 18101
610-437-5915 / operations@LVArtsCouncil.org
www.LVArtsCouncil.org / www.LVArtsBoxOffice.org

Darius Rucker To Headline Musikfest!

Darius Rucker to Headline Musikfest!

With special guest Cassadee Pope

GRAMMY-winning, chart-topping country singer Darius Rucker will bring his dynamic blend of country hits and Hootie & the Blowfish classics to Musikfest when he headlines our Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza on Aug. 14!

  • ArtsQuest Member pre-sale (gold and above): 1/20, 10am
  • ArtsQuest Member pre-sale (all levels): 1/21, 10am
  • Tickets on sale: 1/23, 10am

For memberships and more visit www.musikfest.org

Cupcake Bowl Saturday, December 27 At SteelStacks

Cupcake Bowl

Saturday, December 27 · view days & times
Venue: ArtsQuest Center
Price: AQ Members $25 / Public $30 on sale · buy tickets

Sample sensational cupcakes prepared by the region’s finest bakeries!

Local bakeries and caterers will serve up scrumptious homemade cupcakes in an effort to win the title of Best Cupcake!

Attendees will sample all the delicious confections and then cast their vote to determine the People’s Choice winner, while a panel of judges will determine the winners for Best Frosting, Best Cake, Best Decoration and Best Overall Taste.

All proceeds from the event support ArtsQuest’s Arts Education Programming Fund which provides quality arts and educational programs and experiences for students from throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Participating Bakeries

  • Iron Lakes Country Club
  • Lehigh Catering
  • Trixie’s Treats
  • Kyms Creations Bakery
  • Amy’s Sweets and Treats
  • The Pirate Cupcake Truck
  • Delightful Designs, LLC
  • Erika’s Delicious Sweets
  • The Bakery Nook

If your restaurant/catering business is interested in participating in the event contact Samantha Kulp at skulp@artsquest.org or 610-332-1365.


Saturday, December 27, 2014 @ 12:30 PM


ArtsQuest Center
Musikfest Café presented by Yuengling
101 Founders Way
Bethlehem, PA 18015
map & directions

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem 2014 Re-Opens Thursday, 12/4 At 11am

Recognized by Travel+Leisure Magazine as one of the top holiday markets in the U.S., Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans, the heart-warming sounds of live Christmas music, delicious food and more.

Become an ArtsQuest member today and you’ll not only receive FREE admission to Christkindlmarkt but also an ArtsQuest gift card good for purchases at the ArtsQuest Center and the Stacks Shop at Christkindlmarkt!

Contact Samantha Kulp at 610-332-1365 for more information or visit http://www.christmascity.org/

#givingtuesday At SteelStacks!‏

Giving Tuesday

This December 2nd, ArtsQuest and Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks want YOU to join us in the global movement of #GIVINGTUESDAY ™ and give back to the community that giving to you!

Your 100% tax deductible donation will go to a wide range of programming that will support free programming at SteelStacks all year long. So please join us in GIVING a donation to support the programs you love to enjoy!

Click here to print out your own UNselfie and share it with us!

Visit their web page for complete information: https://member.artsquest.org/pages/givingtuesday-to-artsquest?srctid=1&erid=33679042&trid=772fc909-9208-4a91-be05-9dc447a83c86

ArtsQuest Looking For Bakeries For 2014 Cupcake Bowl

English: A cupcake

English: A cupcake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ArtsQuest’s Cupcake Bowl is the definition of a “sweet Saturday.”

The annual fundraising event brings together bakeries from around the area for a day of sampling.

The 2014 event will be held 12:30-2:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way in Bethlehem.

According to a news release, ticket sales have opened. Buy a ticket at artsquest.org or call 610-332-3378. Tickets cost $30, $25 for ArtsQuest members. Proceeds from the event will go to ArtsQuest’s Arts Education Programming Fund.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/11/artsquest_looking_for_more_ven.html

Bethlehem Affordable Artist Housing Nearly Ready For Occupancy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Lofted ceilings. A rooftop deck. Bird’s-eye views of the former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces.

An on-site art gallery. Personal studio space. Central air conditioning, walk-in closets and modern kitchen and bathroom facilities.

While it sounds like they could be, these are not features of a new high-end apartment complex in Bethlehem. In fact, these amenities are part of a new 46-unit affordable apartment complex set to open on Bethlehem’s South Side in October.

“We have people come on tours because they can’t believe this is affordable housing,” said Jolene Weaver, corporate marketing manager for Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic, the apartments’ developer.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/08/bethlehem_affordable_artist_ho.html

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:


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.