Tourism Insights: Community support and engagement will help the arts thrive

– by Fritz Smith

January Rehearsal2

The Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra rehearsing for a performance.

Arts and culture are the fabric of any community. When stages go silent, museum doors close, and festivals and shows are cancelled, important contributors to our quality of life are noticeably missing.

COVID has hit the creative industries hard

Over the past year, there has been a considerable amount of attention paid to the impact of COVID on the hospitality industry – our restaurants and hotels in particular. As devastating as that impact has been, the creative industries have faced a similar fate. Many organizations continue to struggle in the face of continued occupancy limits, uncertainty about the future operating environment, and the public’s varied comfort level with attending indoor/in-person events.

The financial impact is clear. According to a study released by the Brookings Institute in August 2020, Pennsylvania’s creative industries lost more than $4.4 billion in sales between April and July 2020, as well as more than 97,000 jobs.

Nationwide, the Brookings analysis estimated the loss of 2.7 million jobs and more than $150 billion in sales of goods and services. The fine arts were particularly hard hit, losing almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales.

Further, Americans for the Arts estimates that the pandemic resulted in a nationwide audience loss of 488 million.

Happy Valley's arts community is ready for a return to normal

Allen Street w Banners

The Central PA Festival of the Arts typically draws more than 100,000 people to downtown State College in July.

In our own community, the impact is still being felt even as recovery is occurring. Cancelled for a second straight year, the Central PA Festival for the Arts is historically the second-largest hotel occupancy weekend (behind “move-in” weekend) for the summer – generating $750,000 in room revenue, not to mention spending from the 100,000 people the festival draws. The Arts Festival is just one example. Venues and events that have struggled with revenue losses throughout 2020 are ready for a return to normal.

So too are those who play, perform or create, particularly those whom have lost a significant portion of their income during the pandemic. The personal impact on the arts has been just as devastating.

"Sharing music with a live audience is an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else besides the concert. This is an inseparable part of the life of any performing artist."

Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra Maestro Yaniv Attar

Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra Maestro Yaniv Attar describes the inability to return to the stage this way:

“An orchestra is a living instrument, and when the orchestra isn't together, in a way, the instrument is just not assembled - we cannot make music. On top of that, as humans, it is like a family, and we miss seeing each other, being close together on stage, breathing together, phrasing together, and making great music. Sharing music with a live audience is an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else besides the concert. This is an inseparable part of the life of any performing artist.”

Rowland Theatre Godzilla 2

The historic Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg adds some fun and creativity to its movie promotions.

Support the arts by creating a 'bucket list'

As we move beyond the pandemic, ensuring that arts and culture prosper will require a fully engaged, supportive community, embracing the arts both virtually and in person as comfort level dictates. I encourage readers to create an “arts bucket list.” Make a commitment to attend a concert at the State Theatre, visit a museum or two, take in a classic movie or first-run show at the Rowland Theatre, take in a dance or symphony performance. In the process, you just might discover a new-found or deepened appreciation for the arts.

Bellefonte Art Museum collage

Exhibits at the Bellefonte Art Museum celebrate the human spirit through the arts.

HVAB's commitment to advancing the arts in Happy Valley

As for The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, future plans include the formation of an Arts and Culture Committee to share ideas, address challenges and capitalize on opportunities for the overall advancement of the arts in Happy Valley.

The creative industries enrich our lives. Together with the community, seeing the arts thrive again is a shared goal the HVAB is committed to achieving.

Looking for inspiration?

The arts and culture section of the Adventure Bureau Dispatch contains insightful articles and information about the arts in Happy Valley.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at