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“Not only do we want to build a stage for our local artists,” says Doug, “we want to raise them. It’s our job to support and develop our performers and advocates.”
The idea of “loving local” is even bigger than supporting restaurants and businesses. Loving local means engaging with what’s unique about your home city. It’s what Doug Roysdon, Artistic Director of Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, sees as the mission of the IceHouse: to provide a space for local art to flourish and be embraced by the community. The city-owned structure is a space where new talent and professionals can explore and examine the unique past and present of Bethlehem, all while building a “sustainable arts community”—a creative body linked to community groups, government, and citizens.
The IceHouse—which produced and stored ice for Bethlehem for decades—is a living piece of history. “You do go back to the nineteenth century,” says Doug. “People just love to be here.” And many folks are surprised to learn that this hidden gem, hosts some 200 shows a year, as a venue for Lehigh Valley artists and nonprofits including Pennsylvania Youth Theater, Mock Turtle Marionettes, Touchstone Theatre, and the grassroots arts series, IceHouse Tonight. The goal “is to make it our place,” says Doug, “a response to our own community’s assets. That is, our local history, educational communities, and our diverse populations. We want to do new and original art that takes risks and addresses our community issues.”
With Doug’s vision and Eastern PA Arts Alliance board president Silagh White’s leadership—and in partnership with community nonprofits and the City—the IceHouse has the power to transform. “Not only do we want to build a stage for our local artists,” says Doug, “we want to raise them. It’s our job to support and develop our performers and advocates.” So that they may continue to share their stories—of what it means to live in Bethlehem and make art local.