Ciresi, Policy Committee focus on economic impact of the arts

POTTSTOWN, Sept. 12 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on the economic impact of the arts at the Steel River Playhouse.

Ciresi requested the hearing on the arts to learn how to ensure that arts organizations are financially stable, promote attendance and participation in arts programs, and determine what overall work can be done to broaden support for the arts. Ciresi was joined by legislators from across the state.

“Today’s hearing was a great example of how we can work together to learn from one another in order to create policy decisions that benefit all Pennsylvanians,” Ciresi said. “With the information we have shared with each other today, we will be able to grow our arts programs and move towards an age of ingenuity, creativity and excitement. The arts lead to higher civic engagement, child welfare, and lower crime and poverty rates. They bring about social awareness and a better understanding of our cultures and the world around us. By introducing our children to the arts, and continuing to stay creative in our older age, we create lasting memories and the foundations for skills that can last a lifetime. In addition, the arts provide for three percent of the nation’s GDP alone, an $800 billion industry. When you consider traveling expenses and local merchants that benefit from strong art programs, the numbers begin to add up quickly economically too.”

The committee heard testimony from Jenny Hershour, managing director, Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania; Jessica Willingham, director of government and cultural affairs, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board; Kelley Gibson, president, Cultural Alliance of York County; Karl Blischke, executive director, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; Joanna Davis, public art manager, Lancaster City Office of Public Art; Laurie Zierer, executive director, Pennsylvania Humanities Council; Crystal Brewe, senior vice president of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts; Rita Pederson, development director, Steel River Playhouse; and Charles Croce, former executive director and CEO, Philadelphia History Museum.

This hearing was one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. More information about the plan is available at and hearing materials will be at


CONTACT: Daniel Bixler
House Democratic Communications Office
Phone: 717-787-7895 ext. 6221