Lehigh Valley Arts and Culture in Crisis: Cultural Asset Mapping and COVID-19 Impact Assessment

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Faculty Mentor:

Todd Watkins, Professor of Economics & Executive Director, Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise

Summer 2020 Students:

Adrian Suarez '22, Economics

Hannah Roach '21, Cognitive Science

Yunqi Yang '22, Finance & Business Information Systems

Jude Gerhart '23, Computer Science and Business

Abdelaziz Mikhail Kossir '21, Architecture

Project Summary:

Arts & Cultural organizations and artists everywhere are suffering from dramatic loss of performance opportunities, ticket revenue, grants, and other significant sources of income. A healthy creative sector contributes strongly to a region's long term economic growth and quality of life. The Lehigh Valley may be particularly at risk with its high concentration of arts and cultural organizations and its proximity to New York City.  An emergency survey of artists and non-profit arts and cultural organizations conducted in April 2020 by the Cultural Coalition of Allentown revealed a dire situation in the region's arts and culture community. Individual artists have lost most of their income and nearly all non-profit arts and culture organizations across the Valley have had to cancel critical events. Preliminary survey results estimate an attendance decline of 2.5 million to 3.5 million which threatens the very exsistence of many organizations. A second more detailed impact survey is under development for distribution in mid-May. The Data for Impact student team goals will be (1) analysisi of data from those two surveys (2) development of an asset map of the region's arts and cultural resources and if the impact on those assets of the COVID-19 crisis; (3) development of high impact visualizations if (1) and (2) in support of a major advocacy campaign among the regions political leaders and philanthropic and donor communities to support artists and non-profit arts and cultural organizations in crisis.