City of Bethlehem, ArtsQuest & Partners to Host ARTISTS AMONG US Events in 2015

The City of Bethlehem's new SouthSide Arts District would come alive with a variety of arts programming in 2015 as part of a new initiative designed to highlight local artists while attracting visitors to south Bethlehem year-round. The program, "Artists Among Us," would become a reality if ArtsQuest receives a grant from ArtPlace America, the national organization that supports projects using the arts as a catalyst to enhance life in their communities.

The City of Bethlehem, ArtsQuest and other partners have announced that ArtsQuest is one of the finalists for a 2014 ArtPlace America grant to support creative placemaking in the community. If awarded the grant, the nonprofit ArtsQuest and its partners will use the funds to establish "Artists Among Us," a year-long, artist-led initiative that will shine the spotlight on the arts district's parks, shops, restaurants, businesses, arts facilities and educational institutions. The initiative will include workshops, concerts and residencies by local and visiting artists, as well as an Urban Arts Festival that would take place on the city's SouthSide Greenway and adjoining areas of Third and Fourth Streets in spring 2015.

"SouthSide Bethlehem's creative community is reflected not only in its art centers and performance spaces, but also in the growing number of artists who see the SouthSide as a desirable location to live, work and perform," says Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez. "It's these creative and very talented individuals who will lead us in the next phase of economic development on the SouthSide by presenting a diverse array of arts programming that will engage the residents of our community while attracting visitors from near and far."

As part of Artists Among Us, partners such as the City of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Area School District, Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, Northampton Community College and ArtsQuest would work together to support artist-led programming throughout the year. Disciplines to be represented include the visual and performing arts, multimedia, literary arts and more. ArtsQuest would also use the grant to highlight local artists performing at events such as Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem and the Sabor Latin festival.

"The goal of Artists Among Us is to provide programming that supports the city's emerging SouthSide Arts District," says ArtsQuest President Jeff Parks. "From SteelStacks to the art galleries at Lehigh University, our community has really become known as a place where artists are an integral part of life in the community.

"We thank ArtPlace America for recognizing the important role art has on our economy and on our society, and we're honored they are considering this project as one that would have a huge impact on our city and our region."

This year's ArtPlace America grants will be announced in June. More than 1,250 letters of inquiry were submitted to ArtPlace America for consideration, and ArtsQuest is one of the 97 finalists. To date, ArtPlace has invested $42.1 million in 134 projects in 80 communities of all sizes across the U.S. For more information, please visit www.artplaceamerica.org.

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