ArtsQuest recently announced that Sen. Pat Browne secured $500,000 of the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding to support the construction of the new ArtsQuest Community Cultural Center that will replace the Banana Factory in south Bethlehem.

“Sen. Browne has long been a champion of the arts in the Lehigh Valley and we are incredibly grateful to him for securing this funding for the Lehigh Valley,” said Kassie Hilgert, president and CEO of ArtsQuest. “The support we have received from elected officials, community members and local leadership is a true lifeline and has helped ArtsQuest bridge the gap between survival mode to growth mode. This significant investment in our new cultural center will get us closer to the finishing line of providing access to the arts for all.”

The grant will be used for the construction of the new $22 Million ArtsQuest Community Cultural Center, which will include expanded artist studios, maker space, comedy theatre and new children’s arts education classrooms.

“The Lehigh Valley’s rich arts and culture scene are indispensable in making our region a great place to live, work and play,” Sen. Browne said. “ArtsQuest has long been a hub for this vibrant community. I am proud to support their planned expansion, building new venues to help grow and cultivate the arts in our region.”

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 to attend, 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.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.