Air Products gives $1.5M to ArtsQuest projects
Air Products, a world leading industrial gas company and community leader in the Lehigh Valley, has once again taken a leading role in support of the surrounding community and the arts. The Air Products Foundation has pledged $1.5 million as the inaugural “Founding Corporate Partner” in supporting ArtsQuest’s new overall 80,000-square-foot Cultural Center coming to Bethlehem’s Third Street.
The Air Products Foundation grant will lead in the development of the Cultural Center’s new MakerSpace and Visiting Artist Studio. The Air Products Foundation is also assisting ArtsQuest with renovating the 26,000-square-foot former Bethlehem Steel Turn & Grind Shop at SteelStacks, one of the most unique buildings in Southside Bethlehem. The funding also enables the strategic relocation of the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, which will be moving into what is the current Banana Factory in
March 2020, ahead of the facility’s transformation to the Cultural Center.
The growing collaboration between Air Products and ArtsQuest will result in increased arts programming, performances, exhibitions and experiences for tens of thousands of residents and visitors annually. A longtime supporter of ArtsQuest and its arts and education programming, Air Products was one of the initial partners to support the vision for
SteelStacks with its backing of the Air Products Town Square in 2009.
The vision for the Cultural Center and Turn & Grind Center appealed to the company and its Foundation because of the proposed buildings’ community programming aspects, the associated ability to help attract and retain a creative workforce, as well as continuing to enhance the quality of life in the region.
“Air Products is committed to the Lehigh Valley and we have a responsibility to be supportive of the local communities where we live and work. Through the Air Products Foundation, our company is proud to step up as the Founding Corporate Partner for the ‘Re-Imagine That’ Campaign. We share the vision of ArtsQuest to continue to transform our community and provide opportunities and support for artists, entrepreneurs and innovators. For that reason, we are very happy to put our name on the many facets of this revitalization project, which will allow the beneficial reuse of these buildings for residents of, and visitors to, the Lehigh Valley,” said Scott Crocco, a Trustee of the Air Products Foundation and Air Products’ Chief Financial Officer.
“What is so amazing about the Lehigh Valley and major campaigns like the one ArtsQuest has undertaken is how involved the corporate community becomes with the them,” says ArtsQuest Chief Operating Officer Curt Mosel. “Community minded corporations know how important arts and community organizations are to the quality of life in our region and they want to invest in those efforts that are focused on making the Lehigh Valley a better place to live, work and play.
“There is perhaps no better example of this than community leader and longtime ArtsQuest partner Air Products, a shining example of a corporate leader that always leads the way when it comes to community enrichment. Air Products is a supporter of not only ArtsQuest, but many other nonprofits in our region. Their investment as the Founding Corporate Partner in this capital campaign will play a key role in helping us raise awareness of this important redevelopment project for our city and our region.”
As Founding Corporate Partner, Air Products’ name will be on transformed spaces including:
The Air Products MakerSpace at the Cultural Center
The 4,000-square-foot wing of the new Cultural Center will be open to local artists, innovators, entrepreneurs and the public, and will provide the tools, materials, educational opportunities and technologies that help people with similar interests discover, build and create together.
A self-directed learning zone, the Air Products MakerSpace will engage the community in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) related activities, while encouraging cross-generational learning. By combining digital technologies with traditional tools, the location will be a well-equipped workshop for the tinkerer and a dynamic educational space for individuals who learn best by working hands-on. Among the disciplines people will be able to explore will be:
• Sheet Metal, Metal Machining & Welding
• 3-D Printing, Laser Engraving and Digital Design
• Fabrication Lab
The Air Products Visiting Artist Studio at the Cultural Center
Since hosting its first visiting Artist-in-Residence, Irish sculptor Noel Molloy in 1998, ArtsQuest has regularly welcomed visiting artists from across the country and around the globe. The Air Products Visiting Artist Studio and program at the Cultural Center will provide an inspirational environment away from the restrictions and pressures of an artist’s regular routines, providing opportunities to work on projects, offer workshops and programs at area schools, and show their work in exhibitions.
The Air Products Visiting Artist Studio is designed to be a dynamic space where artists can develop their work and creatively explore ideas, while at the same time helping to establish the Cultural Center and SouthSide Bethlehem as destinations where the community can experience and meet world-class artists.
The Air Products Atrium at the Turn & Grind Center
As part of its continuing commitment to SteelStacks and Bethlehem, ArtsQuest is also embarking on a major revitalization of the former Bethlehem Steel Turn & Grind Shop.
ArtsQuest’s vision for the building, which will be adaptively reused, is a new programming facility, exhibit and festival venue. Included will be a 14,000-square-foot public programming space featuring nationally touring education programs, science and arts-related exhibits, and theater and dance performances. The building will also be featured prominently in SteelStacks’ annual festivals like Oktoberfest, serving as a Festhalle offering beverages from around the globe, and Christkindlmarkt, providing space for additional artisans and entertainment. In addition, it will host community dinners, corporate events and serve as a multi-use rental space, all of which will combine to help ArtsQuest fulfill and support its mission.
The Air Products Atrium at the Turn & Grind Center will welcome thousands of students, professionals, community members and festival attendees annually to SteelStacks. ArtsQuest is in the early stages of development plans for the building and no construction date has been established, but guests at a special Foundation grant announcement Dec. 12 at SteelStacks were treated to a “virtual reality” advance look at the proposed facility.