Last summer, our team won a grant from the Mellon Foundation to begin documenting the Bethlehem arts scene. Working in partnership with Lehigh University’s anthropology department, we filmed over 25 two-hour interviews with Bethlehem artists, entrepreneurs, teachers, and more. We sought to understand the interdependence of art and its place — how artists give to their community, and how that community supports its artists.
As we collected and processed those interviews, we discovered a richer, broader story written between the lines. The story of a steel town turned arts town. The same spirit of camaraderie that had transformed Bethlehem Steel into a national industrial titan had turned inward to transform Bethlehem itself into a center for local arts.
We’ve become deeply inspired by Bethlehem’s incredible ethic of volunteerism and community-based arts. And we’ve seen that the art that emerges from our city gives back to our city. It’s helped us build local character, address local challenges, celebrate local victories, and grow our local economy.
Now we are creating a feature-length documentary celebrating this town’s artistic victories and investigating how we might grow these community-powered, community-enriching arts. It will offer viewers a behind-the-scenes and under-the-hood look at how Bethlehem’s artists and Bethlehem’s citizens are collaborating to grow a self-sustaining city. And for artists and decision makers, it will prove a helpful tool for clarifying the virtues of and best practices in cultural placemaking.
Ultimately, we plan to travel this film to festivals, universities, and households across the country, proudly offering our town as a case study in local arts gone right.
We can’t create a film about community-based arts without the help of the community. It’s our hope that Bethlehem’s ethic of volunteerism and generosity is still alive today, and that our community will come together to make this film a reality. So we’re asking you to please give what you can.
Our goal of $9,670 will fund the production phase of this project.
Raising a total of $15,000 will finance post-production and ensure the film’s release by July 2018.
Raising a total of $20,000 will make it possible for us to elevate the production values of the film.
We are deeply grateful for your help. Without your generosity this film would not be possible.
Ara Barlieb (Barlieb Wallace Productions)
Chloe Cole-Wilson (Basement Poetry)
Jill Dunn (Pennsylvania Youth Theater)
Dave Fry (Godfrey Daniels)
Geoff Gehman (Freelance Writer and Journalist)
Bill George (Touchstone Theatre)
Jennie Gilrain (Freemansburg Elementary)
Norman Giradot (Lehigh University Department of Religion Studies)
Joyce Hinnefeld (Moravian College)
Elissa Hoogerhyde (Charter Arts High School alumn)
Daniel Hunter (Farmer)
Lisa Jordan (Touchstone Theatre)
Didi Kumalo (Charter Arts High School student)
Diane Labelle (Charter Arts High School)
Shamus McGroggan (Tape Swap Radio)
Mark McKenna (Theatre Artist)
Matt Molchany (Tape Swap Radio)
Barbara Pearson (The People's Theater)
Kim Plyler (Sahl Communications)
Christopher Ryland (Charter Arts High School alumn)
John Saraceno (Saraceno Design)
Cleo Leslie Smith (Cleo's Silversmith & Gallery)
Jeff Vaclavik (Southside Film Initiative)
Pam Wallace (Barlieb Wallace Productions)
Silage White (Lehigh University College of Arts & Sciences)
Matt Wolf (Freelance Poet)
Project Assistance Provided by:
Risks and challenges
As our team has already been working since summer 2016 to collect filmed interviews with a range of Bethlehem artists and community members, we are fully equipped to begin the documentary project as soon as we receive funding.
However, as with any documentary filmmaking project, our success rests on you: the community. We are dependent on your willingness to talk with us, let us attend your events, and invite us to participate in your world. We're not concerned about this challenge - we know you're awesome!
We recognize that we have asked for funding for only part of the project, and that more funding will be needed in order to complete post-production and release the film. To meet this need, we are seeking additional funding sources, including foundations, government programs, and organizational sponsors.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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