Artists Invited to Apply for Residencies

Artists Invited to Apply for Residencies

The Allentown Arts Commission is proud to announce a public artist call for the 2018 Artist-in-Residence Program to artistically engage the community and create a bridge between the neighborhoods throughout the City of Allentown by fostering inclusiveness and celebrating diversity.

Five Artist-in-Residence projects will be awarded with funding based on artist experience and project scope. Two $4,500 grants will be awarded to Emerging Artists who are at the earliest stages of their career. Two $9,000 grants will be awarded to Established Artists as defined by those who have created an independent body of work or performed extensively on stage or screen. One $18,000 grant will be awarded to a Professional Artist who has reached an advanced level of achievement for their work in their discipline.
Full Press Release



Three years. Hundreds of volunteers. Seven corporate funders. Tax credits from Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development Department. Foundations, trusts, private funders, and non-profit agencies. Dozens of corporate leaders. And thousands of residents in Allentown’s center city neighborhoods who have felt the impact of Upside Allentown’s initiatives aimed at increasing quality of life, wealth and home ownership in the neighborhoods surrounding Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. Upside Allentown presented its annual report to the community today detailing the outcomes to date while laying out the initiatives for continual improvement in Year Four of the campaign.

Several residents gave testimony to the impact Upside programs have had on their lives, including a homeowner whose façade was improved and a student of the Allentown Police Youth Academy.

Detailed reports were given on the improvements that had been made in the neighborhoods since the start of the initiative in 2014 through Neighborhood Partnership Program supported contributions provided by seven private businesses, as well as additional funds from the City of Allentown, Trexler Trust, Century Fund, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Rebeca Torres, an attorney whose practice and home is on 7th Street, and Co-Chair of the Upside Allentown Steering Committee, outlined accomplishments made in the 2016-2017 program year including:

  • Completed 800 code inspections
  • Transferred ownership of 12 vacant/blighted properties for rehabilitation
  • Completed rehabilitation of 1116 Maple Street into an owner-occupied property
  • Installed pedestrian streetlights and trees on four blocks of Turner Street
  • Completed 7 residential and 4 commercial façade improvement projects
  • Completed construction at Stevens Park and redesigned Valania Park
  • Awarded 7 “Love Upside” grants to neighborhood groups for beautification projects
  • Conducted 2, 19-week Start Your Business courses for 69 students, of whom 12 graduated and 9 businesses were started
  • Provided support to The Literacy Center for GED preparation and career counseling
  • Supported deployment of 25 foot patrol and bike patrol police officers along Seventh Street
  • Supported the enrollment of 55 middle school students in Youth Civilian Police Academy
  • Installed 9 porch lights and 10 solar lights on eligible houses on narrow streets
  • Organized the first Upside Allentown “Family Fun Fest” at Sacred Heart’s Sigal Center for more than 400 Upside residents
  • Launched 2 Artist-In-Residence programs in Jordan Heights Neighborhood and Old Allentown Neighborhood
  • Funded improved summer learning activities for 118 low-income children and youth attending Cleveland and McKinley elementary schools in center city
  • Supported 5 community engagement meetings in partnership with the Allentown School District to obtain parent and community input to the new ASD Strategic Plan.


Upside Allentown’s corporate funders include BB&T at $150,000 a year, TD Bank and PPL at $100,000 a year, and Alvin H. Butz, Inc., City Center Investment Corp., Lafayette Ambassador Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank at $50,000 a year.

Representatives from the Education and Arts and Culture subcommittees also reported on two significant and innovative projects that were recently launched.  Sean King, representing the Arts and Culture Subcommittee, shared results of the Allentown Arts & Culture 20:21 Plan that will be implemented over the next four years in Downtown Allentown and beyond.  Jill Pereira, co-chair of the Education Subcommittee, reported on their initiative to work with the Allentown School District on engaging the community in the conversation and implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Don Bernhard, Executive Director of Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative and Upside Allentown Steering Committee Co-Chair, highlighted key outcomes of three years of initiatives in downtown Allentown.  Upside is halfway through its six-year program and has shown encouraging outcomes in response to strategic investments.  Outcomes are identified in categories such as increased residential property values, crime reduction, reduction of residential and commercial housing vacancies, improved quality of life, accessibility to arts and culture, and employment opportunities, among others, as outlined in the attachment.

“We have concrete evidence after three years that these initiatives are touching people, changing lives, and improving quality of life in the neighborhood,” says Bernhard. “We have much more work to do in some areas such as increasing incomes, where we are only beginning to have an impact, however, we believe the data so far supports our goals and proves that additional investment in Allentown beyond the Neighborhood Improvement Zone will produce a return.”

Mayor Ed Pawlowski lauded the group of mostly volunteers who have contributed countless hours to this effort.

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About Upside Allentown: Upside Allentown is a comprehensive approach to community development to ensure that Allentown’s NIZ and its surrounding neighborhoods grow and thrive together. More than 100 individuals representing dozens of groups and, perhaps most importantly, neighborhood residents are working together toward a common goal of a thriving city with abundant opportunity, quality, affordable housing, safe streets, active civic participation and lots of fun. It includes eight corporations contributing $550,000 per year and receiving tax credits from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, city government, the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, local philanthropic foundations like the Harry C. Trexler Trust, The Century Fund, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative, Allentown School District, the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and others.


Download Projected Activities for Year 4 (2017-2018)

Upside Allentown Celebrates Year 2 Successes

Upside Allentown Celebrates Year 2 Successes

Revitalization takes a village, and in Allentown that means hundreds of volunteers, community leaders, and city officials and agencies who have come together to implement a comprehensive plan aimed at improving the quality of life and access to wealth and home ownership in the neighborhoods surrounding Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that the residents also see the benefits of the vibrant business district along Hamilton Street in the NIZ as well as North Seventh Street, the gateway to Allentown’s downtown. The coalition, Upside Allentown, held a press conference September 8th to report on its activity to date, two years into the initiative, and lay out plans for year three. Below is the full press release, accomplishments and new projects for 2016-2017. You will also find 4 “Success Videos” that show the real impact on the lives of the people who have benefited from Upside programs. Thank you to all of volunteers, organizations, committees, funders, stakeholders and others who have helped make this possible.

Full Press Release

Upside Allentown Accomplishments 2015-2016

Upside Allentown Projects 2016-2017

Morning Call Article


Upside Allentown begins community outreach with Folk Art Festival

Upside Allentown begins community outreach with Folk Art Festival

Upside Allentown featured it’s 13 short films in the Art Museum as a part of the Folk Art Festival. It was a beautiful day and the event was a lot of fun! We are so excited for the momentum Upside Allentown is experiencing. It is all about the people and relationships being built to make this city a better place to work, live and experience! Thanks to all the volunteers who made it possible and especially to the Allentown Art Musuem for being an incredible host! 

Photo taken by Marco Calderon Photography

©Marco Calderon Photography-3 ©Marco Calderon Photography-4 ©Marco Calderon Photography-6 ©Marco Calderon Photography-9 ©Marco Calderon Photography-13 ©Marco Calderon Photography-16 ©Marco Calderon Photography-23   ©Marco Calderon Photography-37©Marco Calderon Photography-27

Upside Allentown announces year one accomplishments

Upside Allentown announces year one accomplishments

Upside Allentown has gained incredible momentum in it’s first year.
So much has been accomplished we just had to have a press release to announce all the great news!

We were featured in Lehigh Valley Business, WFMZ and the Morning Call. We are really excited about year 2 and what we will accomplish together as a community. It’s all about the people and building bridges. There is a lot of momentum in Allentown, let’s work together and keep it going, keep building, keep connecting, continue serving and supporting each other!

Below are some of the press publications.

Upside Accomplishments

Upside Press Release