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    Thinking Bigger: Andy Cassano, Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University

    The Arts belong to everyone—and then some, according to Andy Cassano, Administrative Director of Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University: they are “essential for creative, socially-engaged citizenry; for economic development and exploring assumptions about the world we live in.” That belief—that first-hand arts experience is a crucial tool for lifelong learning, and for emotional, societal, and cultural health—underpins the mission that drives Andy and everyone at Zoellner.

     

    Zoellner, a flagship cultural venue in the Lehigh Valley, is home to Lehigh University’s music and theater departments and art galleries, and presents a vibrant season of events and guest performances by hundreds of artists and speakers from around the block and around the world. And Andy is looking beyond Zoellner’s stages to bring arts access and equity to local children through Any Given Child, a national program stewarded by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Bethlehem is the 24th city in the nation to enter Any Given Child—and the first in Pennsylvania.

     

    The collective impact program, led by Zoellner in collaboration with the Bethlehem Area School District, and drawing on the experience of more than 50 local leaders, is establishing a vision “of a learning community,” says Andy, “where every child experiences, creates, and values the arts. It’s our hope that this not only improves the educational experience for children overall, but plays a long-term role in developing the creative economy for Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley.”

     

    Andy sees Zoellner’s role as one of service: to the artists on its stages, and to the people of Bethlehem. Beyond the stage, Zoellner is committed to providing access and an understanding of the value of the arts, he says—“for the greater good of elevating the community we live in.”