Bank on It! Fulton Bank Helps ArtSmart Program Grow

artsmart_web Photo: Dani Nightlinger A big part of ArtsQuest’s mission is presenting music, art, festivals, cultural experiences and educational and outreach programs that aid in economic development, urban revitalization and community enrichment. Of the 4,000 programs, classes and events the nonprofit offers, more than 40 percent are presented at no charge to the community. Just one example is ArtSmart, the afterschool enrichment program that exposes more than 500 middle and elementary school students annually to the visual arts. Without help from generous sponsors such as Fulton Bank, however, educational programs like this might not be possible. Fulton Bank has been a proud sponsor of ArtsQuest since 2011, supporting several events including Musikfest. Two years ago, it decided to branch out, getting behind the ArtSmart afterschool program, ArtsQuest’s longest running educational program. “Art is a wonderful way for students to express themselves and find their passion, and it also helps them to explore culture, history and diverse points of view,” says Fulton Bank President, Lehigh Valley Market, Joseph R. Feilmeier. “Fulton Bank is proud to sponsor ArtSmart and ArtsQuest programs and the educational and enrichment services they offer to young people in our community. As a company focused on changing lives for the better, we support organizations that also are focused on making a difference.” Since 1998, ArtsQuest has acted as a bridge between creative artists and area schools by providing in-school instructional programs and afterschool enrichment programs. ArtSmart, closing in on its 20th year, has been a free afterschool art enrichment program since its inception. The program is offered for 8 weeks each fall and spring, and as a six-week program during the summer. In all, more than 10 elementary schools, as well as all middle schools in the Bethlehem area, take part in the program. Over the past two years, ArtsQuest has seen a 20-percent growth in ArtSmart. Through exposure to printmaking, fiber arts, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, photography and painting, students build important social, cognitive and motor skills. ArtsQuest Senior Director of Visual Arts & Education Lisa Harms says surveys have shown participants also do better in the classroom. “Many of the students develop a lifelong love for the arts that they carry far beyond the classroom into other aspects of their life,” she says. “This program helps with their studies, with relationship development and throughout life. Thanks to partners like Bethlehem Area School District Fulton Bank, we have been able to reach thousands of students over the past two decades through the power of the arts.”