Arts & Humanities Convening

In partnership with U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, Lehigh hosted the first “Pennsylvania Arts & Humanities: A Statewide Convening" on Nov. 1 benefiting the state’s arts and humanities organizations. Organizers hope to make it a regular event.

Lehigh Hosts Inaugural Pennsylvania Arts & Humanities: A Statewide Convening

An estimated 300 professionals from dozens of cultural and arts organizations around the state attended the event, which was well received.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

Lehigh hosted the first “Pennsylvania Arts & Humanities: A Statewide Convening” on Nov. 1 in Zoellner Arts Center benefiting the state’s arts and humanities organizations whose resources were impacted by the pandemic.

The summit was an opportunity for organizations to learn about federal and state resources available to support their work. Based on positive feedback from attendees, organizers hope to regularly hold the event.

An estimated 300 CEOs, directors, development officers and grants administrators from dozens of cultural and arts organizations around the state attended the convening, which Lehigh co-hosted with U.S. Sen. Robert Casey.

The event was made possible with support from a planning committee of state-wide organizations and agencies, including the PA Council on the Arts, PA Humanities and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

In a survey of 104 attendees, nearly 90% agreed it was helpful to their organization and to themselves both personally and professionally. Participants listened to expert panels and participated in breakout sessions to discuss important topics for the state’s arts and humanities communities.

"Experiencing the open interchange of ideas was truly rewarding," said Robert Flowers, Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Hosting this event, fostering crucial conversations and enduring partnerships across the Commonwealth, is a source of pride. These discussions not only shape our collective future but also strengthen our resolve toward collaborative solutions that preserve our rich cultural heritage, enrich our communities, and pave the way for a vibrant, inclusive arts and culture ecosystem."

Nearly 57% of the respondents agreed such an event should be held annually, while another 41% said it should be held every other year.

Arts & Humanities Convening

Provost Nathan Urban speaks with Colleen J. Shogan, the 11th archivist of the United States, during the inaugural “Pennsylvania Arts & Humanities: A Statewide Convening" on Nov. 1.

The event began with introductions from Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82, Casey, who gave live remarks over zoom and whose team members were present throughout the day, and Mark Wilson, executive director of Zoellner Arts Center. Wilson encouraged attendees to engage with each other about their work and create new connections during the summit.

Those in the arts and humanities tell the stories of the urban, suburban and rural communities, the broken, the lost, the marginalized, the unforgotten, powerful, powerless, the popular, the unpopular ideas and the famous and infamous people, places and things of Pennsylvania, Wilson said. These stories are told through film, spoken word, literature, music, theater and art.

“Continue to tell these stories,” he urged.

In a prepared statement prior to the event, Casey said Pennsylvania has a long, storied history of producing some of the nation’s finest creative minds, from Andrew Wyeth to Tina Fey.

“By continuing to invest in the arts and humanities, we aren’t just strengthening our world class educational institutions and creating a brighter future for our students—we’re also continuing a tradition which has long made our Commonwealth a great place to live. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Lehigh University to support the arts and humanities in Pennsylvania.”

The event featured breakout panel discussions on topics such as exploring public-private partnerships, ensuring accessible arts and culture opportunities for all, and the state of arts, culture and humanities post-COVID.

A highlight was the “fireside chat” moderated by Provost Nathan Urban with Colleen J. Shogan, the 11th archivist of the United States.

Shogan was nominated by President Joseph Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 10. A Pittsburgh native, she previously worked in the U.S. Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She was vice chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and Chair of the Board of Directors at the Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation.

Working in Washington D.C. where the nation’s founding documents are housed, Shogan said she takes a daily walk to the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives, where the Declaration of Independence and other important papers are on display. In addition to seeing the documents, Shogan said seeing the visitors reminds her why she does what she does. She enjoys the excitement on visitors’ faces when they line up to see the documents. Many of them are usually seeing the documents for the first time, she said.

“We want to preserve that opportunity, that experience for as many Americans for as long as possible,” Shogan said.

To read more about the event, visit Lehigh Valley News and WFMZ.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

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