The Arts | An Economic Driver in the Valley
When we think of the Arts in the Lehigh Valley, our thoughts generally turn to the bounty of high-quality artistic venues, outstanding museums and symphonies, and the vibrant theater scene. Residents of the Lehigh Valley have access to the arts in a way that is not always available in similar-sized regions. Festivals, community celebrations, and concerts that enliven our spirits and add to the quality of life in our community are plentiful.
But it is important to think beyond the pleasures we receive as a result of this bounty. It’s important to also recognize the tremendous economic value of the arts and culture programming in the Lehigh Valley. Whether it’s the thousands of daily visitors from outside our region, or we as residents ourselves attending events, much-needed revenue is created and spent here in the Lehigh Valley region.
According to a recent Lehigh Valley Arts Council and Americans for the Arts study, Arts & Economic Prosperity (view summary), the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $186.4 million industry in the Lehigh Valley Region—one that supports 6,908 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $18.8 million in local and state government revenue. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are businesses in their own right. They spent $83.2 million during fiscal year 2015 to employ people locally, purchase goods and services from local establishments, and attract tourists. They also leveraged a remarkable $103.2 million in additional spending by cultural audiences—spending that pumps vital revenue into restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, and other local businesses.
When the Community Foundation supports arts and cultural organizations, we know that we are not simply helping these organizations, but rather we are making an important investment in the economy of our region. For example, we've invested in the success of the Freddy Awards at the State Theater for the Arts for the past five years through a community partnership grant, helping to celebrate the achievements of high school performing arts students as they reach for their dreams. See the article, What the Freddy Awards Mean to the Lehigh Valley, in the July Cause Connection eNewsletter.
Another important aspect beyond the economic impact is arts education. That's why the Community Foundation is a partner with Any Given Child Bethlehem. The Bethlehem Area School District program (K-8th grade) has several goals, including ensuring equitable access to the arts by providing a community-based arts experience; expanding music, literary and visual arts instruction including theater, dance and media arts; and using art to support the social and emotional needs of students. The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington established the “Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child” program, making Bethlehem the 24th city across the country and the first in Pennsylvania to participate in 2017. Learn more about Any Given Child Bethlehem.
So, whether you’re interested in attending a concert at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown or at Levitt Pavilion in Bethlehem, or appreciating the wonderful collections at the Sigal Museum in Easton, by supporting the Arts of the Lehigh Valley you are adding significantly to the economic health of our community. We invite you to contact us to learn more about the vibrant Lehigh Valley arts and cultural organizations and how we can partner to maintain these high-quality programs and economic investments.