Tuesday, August 8, 2017
On September 8, leaders from the arts, business, and local government will gather for a public forum on the intersection of arts and the local economy. The event—called “Whose Business is the Arts?”—will be co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Lehigh Valley Partnership.
The forum comes as a response to the release of Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, the latest economic impact study from Americans for the Arts. As one of 250 study partners nationwide, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council gathered spending data from arts and culture nonprofits and their audiences in Carbon, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties. While the results undoubtedly show that the arts are important to the economy, local arts leaders are concerned: the annual economic activity generated by Lehigh Valley arts and culture nonprofits has declined about 11 percent, from $208 million in 2010 to $186.4 million in the latest study.
The organizers of September’s forum hope to address the reasons behind this troubling trend, which may include oversaturation and sustainability issues. Randall Forte, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, wrote, “The ‘Whose Business is the Arts’ forum opens the door for building relationships and collaboration between the arts and corporate sectors and for discovering opportunities to help each other thrive.”