ArtsQuest Foundation Announces $500,000 Matching Gift Challenge to Support Musikfest
Photo: Ted Colegrove
Foundation asks community to help it raise $1 million to assist nonprofit that presents Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt and events at SteelStacks
BETHLEHEM, PA—As ArtsQuest gets set to kick off the 37th year of Musikfest, the nonprofit’s foundation is asking the community to help it raise $1 million dollars over the next two weeks to support the festival and its year-round arts and education programming for the community.
From today (July 27) through Aug. 10, the day after Musikfest 2020 concludes, the ArtsQuest Foundation is encouraging the community and festival fans to donate to support ArtsQuest with a special incentive. Every contribution up to a total of $500,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by the ArtsQuest Foundation Board of Trustees, effectively doubling the donations.
Contributions can be made in one of two ways:
Donating at www.artsquest.org/donate.
Making a donation via the DUZY online giving platform that will be part of the Virtual Musikfest streams at www.musikfest.org starting at 7 p.m. each night of Musikfest July 31-Aug. 9.
“It’s no secret that nonprofits of all sizes, as with many businesses, have been hit hard by this crisis,” says ArtsQuest Foundation Board Chair Thomas Riddle. “ArtsQuest has essentially been closed since mid-March, losing 90 percent of its revenue streams over the past four months. At the beginning of July, we had a longtime ArtsQuest supporter who wishes to remain anonymous step up with a $250,000 gift to support Musikfest. As the group focused on ensuring ArtsQuest’s long-term stability, the ArtsQuest Foundation Board members came together to raise the bar even higher by contributing an additional $250,000.
“Our goal is that with the help of the community, collectively we will raise at least $1 million to support ArtsQuest and Musikfest, a number that symbolizes the one million people who attend the festival each year. If even half of our Musikfest fans give only $1, we’ll reach that number.”
Launched in 1984, Musikfest has grown into the largest free-admission music festival in the nation, presenting more than 400 artists on 17 stages over 10 days. Twice named the Best Music Festival in North America by the USA Today/10Best readers poll, the event draws approximately one million people annually from more than 40 states and one dozen countries, having a significant impact on tourism and the economy in city and region.
In 2019, ArtsQuest and festival attendees had an economic impact of more than $75 million on the Lehigh Valley. This year, the festival will be mostly virtual, with 100 streaming performances at www.musikfest.org, as well as opportunities to support local vendors and performers through limited on-site programming at SteelStacks including Musikfest food vendors at PNC Plaza and concerts featuring local artists on the Air Products Town Square.
ArtsQuest is looking to raise the $1 million to not only support Musikfest, but also help ensure it can resume its year-round programming for the community when it’s safe to do so. The nonprofit typically presents approximately 4,000 concerts, classes, events and educational programs throughout the year, with 50 percent of these free for the community.
“The arts connect, inspire and engage us. We need the arts more than ever in today’s climate,” says ArtsQuest Sr. Director of Advancement Selena Lavonier. “ArtsQuest continues to bring our community together and provide access to the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in large part because of the generous people who have and will step forward to support our organization and help ensure its future. Thank you to the ArtsQuest Foundation Board of Trustees for coming together and creating this incredible matching gift campaign.”
As part of its mission, ArtsQuest focuses on developing opportunities for local small businesses and independent artists to support their livelihood. This includes food vendors and restaurants at festivals, performance opportunities for more than 800 musicians and bands each year and teaching opportunities for more than 100 artists annually. Musikfest alone provides opportunities for more than 400 artists and performers, as well as 125 local and regional small businesses. Approximately 65 percent of Musikfest artists are from the Lehigh Valley and surrounding Mid-Atlantic Region, while 70 percent of vendors are from the area.
“ArtsQuest is known for presenting larger events and festivals like Musikfest and Christkindlmarkt that have a significant impact on tourism,” says ArtsQuest President and CEO Kassie Hilgert. “More than 130 days into this pandemic, we are holding our own, but the truth of the matter is we don’t know when this crisis will end. The live music and events industry was one of the first to close during the pandemic and will be one of the last to reopen.
“This Matching Gift initiative is designed to not only help ensure we can return with Musikfest next summer, but also resume many of our other programs as soon as it’s safe to do so. This includes maintaining the resources and infrastructure necessary to offer educational programs for local students, performance opportunities for area musicians, events that bring our community together and programs that support at-risk segments of our population. Our goal is and always will be to keep our community connected through music and the arts and that’s something that’s more important than ever right now. We’ve seen that through the response to initiatives like ArtsQuest@Home, our online afterschool enrichment program and now the initial interest in Virtual Musikfest.”
Overall, ArtsQuest draws 1.8 million visitors to the region each year, having an economic impact of more than $135 million annually. Guests who attend festivals like Musikfest and programs at SteelStacks often stay overnight at area hotels, eat in local restaurants and shop in Bethlehem’s Main Street and SouthSide shopping districts.
Hilgert says the Lehigh Valley is filled with quality arts, cultural and entertainment amenities, with a population that’s spread out fairly evenly over the two-county area.
“Because of these two factors, we feel this region is uniquely positioned to serve as a destination for travel, entertainment and family experiences as we emerge from this pandemic,” she says. “ArtsQuest and its partners are focused on being ready to support our community, our businesses and our guests when the time is right. The funds raised in this Matching Gift campaign over the next two weeks will play a crucial role in this.”