ArtsQuest is pleased to announce that Steve Ott has been promoted to vice president of operations and external projects. Ott, who began with the organization as a seasonal operations assistant in 2000 and 2002, spent time with the State Theatre in Easton before beginning his full-time ArtsQuest tenure in 2006, serving as a year-round operations assistant.
Considered instrumental in the growth of many ArtsQuest events — most notably Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt — Ott has maintained a consistent and proven track record throughout his career with the Bethlehem-based arts and culture nonprofit.
“I’m pleased to share this news of Steve’s advancement, a well-deserved next step in his career, and reflection of all of his many achievements,” said Ray Neeb, ArtsQuest senior vice president of operations. “Over the last seven years he’s managed to transform Christkindlmarkt into a world class event. From layout to décor, he’s transformed our annual event into a holiday tradition. There’s no doubt his efforts were what led to Christkindlmarkt being named one of the best holiday markets in the U.S. by Travel +Leisure twice.”
Neeb said that Ott has had previous success overseeing other departments including merchandise and operations, having served as Events Manager in 2010 when the SteelStacks Campus opened. Ott was promoted to ArtsQuest Director of Festivals and Facilities in 2015. His continued commitment to new ideas and innovative approach to meeting operational needs led to an additional promotion to Senior Director of Operations in 2021.
“I’m extremely excited to be given this opportunity,” Ott said. “Honestly, through the many years that I’ve spent here, I’ve had the chance to not just grow in, but grow with ArtsQuest. When I started we had one building and two major events. I’ve been able to watch, learn and evolve to be a part of the leadership team here at ArtsQuest and what it has become, with the multitude of events on the SteelStacks Campus as well as the Banana Factory, not to mention the vision of where it is going. There are many processes and abilities that I’ve learned through all those years, but I think the thing that will always stick with me is the desire to change, to improve, to not be satisfied with what works, but to try and figure out how it can work better.
According to Ott, this step in his journey may bring challenges, but they’re challenges he looks forward to tackling.
“ArtsQuest is an amazing place to come to work on a daily basis, from the incredible people you get to work alongside, to the amazing amount of creativity that surrounds you every day,” Ott said. “But if I had to pick a favorite part, it would be the fact that I get to actively be a part of an organization with such positive impact on my community. As for what I’m looking forward to most, I can’t wait to see the next phase of ArtsQuest. I’m looking forward to having an active part in our growth and how it impacts the communities around us.”
Neeb noted that it was Ott’s innovative thinking that helped ArtsQuest conduct its annual Christkindlmarkt during the COVID pandemic.
“He recreated the event so that it was a fully outdoor and socially distanced event,” Neeb said. “Because of his leadership, we were able to continue this beloved holiday tradition and support many local businesses.”
According to Neeb, Ott’s visionary approach has also aided with another community favorite, Oktoberfest.
“Through the years Oktoberfest has taken on many different iterations but has landed as ‘the place to be’ in our region the first two weekends of October,” Neeb said. “It was via Steve’s vision of multiple themed beer garden tents that has transformed the event and resulted in record setting returns the last two years.”
“To be given the ability to continue to grow with this company that I’ve invested so much into, and that has invested so much into me is truly an honor,” Ott said.
In his new role, Ott also will be responsible for managing Musikfest including all aspects of layout, design and daily event operations, with additional focus placed on the organization’s growing external efforts with neighboring community and sponsorship partners. Additionally, he will continue overseeing the ArtsQuest Facilities Team, leading the facilities committee with ongoing maintenance and capital needs.
ArtsQuest’s mission is to provide access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences using arts and culture as key elements of economic development for our urban communities. ArtsQuest supports this mission via the presentation of performing and visual arts, film, arts education classes and outreach, youth programming and cultural events.
Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; the Banana Factory Arts Center; and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, ArtsQuest’s programming reaches more than 1.9 million people annually. The organization’s programs and events, approximately 50% of which are free, have a combined economic impact of more than $136 million annually in the region. ArtsQuest is a proud member of NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association and NATO, the National Association of Theatre Owners.