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LV Arts Council disburses grants to fund 33 projects

How do the arts enhance your life?

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council (LVAC) says plenty.

The 501c3 organization was established “to promote the value of the arts, foster collaboration in the community and encourage arts engagement for all people in the Lehigh Valley.”

The Arts Council honored its membership at the annual Arts Count 2018 annual fall reception and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) Grant Awards presentation Oct. 16, Butz Corporate Center, 842 Hamilton St., Allentown.

“This is really celebrating that we are stronger when we are working together,” said Randall Forte, executive director of the LVAC. Forte admits on the surface the work LVAC does “isn’t always sexy stuff,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

For the past 13 years, the LVAC has been dispersing the PPA grants. The program is a statewide initiative of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. LVAC administers the program in Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. On Oct. 16, LVAC presented awards to fund a wide-range of activities, including cooperative murals, concert series, workshops and festivals. October is National Arts and Humanities Month.

The list of 2018-2019 Project Stream awardees reads like a “Who’s Who” of Lehigh Valley arts organizations and artists. Nearly $40,000 of grants will be dispensed during the year to 33 projects, an increase from 26 projects 2017-2018, with an average grant award of about $1,200. Funded projects take place between Sept.1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019.

This year’s roster includes eight organizations receiving their first Project Stream grant, comprising about one-quarter of all the grants dispersed.

“Nearly $430,000 was granted to 159 unique applicants since 2005-2006,” Forte says.

While everyone needs money, LVAC understands the arts are not just about a modest amount of cash.

“The impact these arts experiences have on the community appears greater than their grant amount suggest,” notes Zach Kleemeyer, community engagement manager at LVAC. “Half of these projects have been funded multiple times and over the years they have been refined, improving their quality.”

Karl Blischke, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Alex Michaels, Incoming President of Discover Lehigh Valley, addressed the gathering.

The awards are important, but they are not all of the work LVAC does, Forte notes.

Every five years, the LVAC, with the assistance of the Americans for the Arts, issues an economic impact study of nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the Lehigh Valley.

The most recent, issued in 2016, “Arts & Economic Prosperity 5,” provides organizations “verifiable data” and “compelling evidence” to assess their situations and where and how to allocate resources.

According to the study, Lehigh Valley nonprofit arts organizations contribute about $186.4 million in economic impact annually.

Further, the research indicates that the arts in the Lehigh Valley provides more than 6,900 full-time jobs and generates $18.7 million in local and state tax revenues.

“The arts are great for business in the Lehigh Valley,” Forte says.

LVAC maintains that “the arts build community.”

The study indicates than nearly 7,000 donated more than 323,000 volunteer hours to the 98 nonprofits surveyed for the study.

More philosophically, the organization maintains the arts positively impact humanity.

“We are trying to make people aware of the value of the arts by the power of story,” Forte says.

Here’s the list of the 2018 Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) Grant Awards recipients and the amount of the grant received by each entity:

Allentown Public Theatre, $1,232

Appalachian Fiddle and Bluegrass Association, $1,140

Bethlehem Economic Development Corp., $1,250

Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission, $1,526

Borough of Emmaus, $1,342

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, $1,241

Cedar Crest College,* $1,067

Concord Chamber Singers, $1,267

Friends of Allentown Parks, $1,213

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network,* $1,414

Hellertown Area Library, $784

Holly Roadfeldt,* $1,055

JCC of Allentown, $1,307

Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival, $1,305

Lehigh Carbon Community College Foundation, * $1,158

Lehigh University, $1,250

Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange, $1,267

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock, $1,149

Leticia Gutierrez,* $1,361

Lydia Panas, $1,066

Mikayla’s Voice, $1,099

Moravian College Music Institute, $1,232

Nigerian International Association of Pa.,* $1,195

Nora Suggs, $1,092

Pa. Jazz Collective, $1,174

Parkland Community Library,* $1,081

Puerto Rican Culture Preservation, Inc., $1,294

Saucon Valley Conservancy, $1,103

Summit Hill Heritage Center, $1,081

Ukrainian American Heritage Foundation, $1,267

WDIY 88.1 FM, $1,307

West Park Civic Association, $1,241

YWCA of Bethlehem,* $1,148

*Denotes first-time PPA Project Stream grant recipient

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER2018 Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Grant Awards recipients celebrate with their presenters at Lehigh Valley Arts Council's ArtsCount reception, Oct. 16, Butz Corporate Center, Allentown. Copyright - &Copy; Ed Courrier