Arts group seeks piece of funds headed for Billtown

Lycoming Arts asked city officials to consider the arts and cultural aspects of Williamsport as it discusses the best use of $25.8 million in American Rescue Plan dollars as part of the COVID-19 relief.

Shanin Dougherty, co-chair of the First Friday Committee for Lycoming Arts, and Judy Olinsky, board member for the arts and culture supportive volunteer organization, presented their rationale Friday to City Council’s economic revitalization committee ahead of a city administration-council public joint work session next week.

The city has a timeline through 2024 to allocate the pandemic-relief money and 2026 in which to spent it, according to Councilwoman Liz Miele.

“Certainly,” she said, “a substantial amount of money will be used to fund infrastructure and certainly some of it will be for organizations.”

Lycoming Arts created a platform for those involved and supportive of the arts and culture.

Dougherty said Lycoming Arts works in service of that positive impact.

She discussed the mission of Lycoming Arts including the generation of awareness, opportunities and supporting arts and cultural expansion efforts.

“The arts inspire us, soothe us, provoke us, involve us and connect us,” Dougherty said.

The arts also create jobs and contribute to the economy.

“The arts mean business,” she said.

The arts have an economic impact on cities. Nationally, according to the National Endowment for the Arts and Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2109. the impact of the arts constituted a nearly $920 billion industry, making up 4.3 percent of the U.S. Gross National Product, creating 5.2 million jobs and providing for a larger share of the economy than agriculture, transportation and tourism.

Art event audiences across the state, for example, spend $1 billion, and the arts generates $1.3 billion in household income and contributes $1.7 billion to the state’s economy.

“The arts are the emerging sector in economic development,” Dougherty said.

The city’s economic model is not sustainable for the long-term, Miele said.

“If that expansion happens through expansion with the arts — excellent,” she said.


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