ArtsLehigh, a program founded seven years ago to promote involvement in the arts at Lehigh and in the local community, was recently named the 2012 recipient of the Institutional Service Award by the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission.
ArtsLehigh was cited for its success in engaging the larger community in the arts.
“We need the arts,” said Silagh White in accepting the award at a reception early this month in Moravian College’s Payne Gallery. “We need them to enrich our culture and illuminate our society.”
White, who has served as director of ArtsLehigh since its inception during the 2005-06 academic year, said colleges and universities have a role to play as “introducers” of the arts, and an obligation to present the arts in “accessible ways that even the most disinterested can find enticing and enriching.”
An “intangible necessity”
The faculty and administrators who are behind ArtsLehigh, White said, see the arts as a vital element of campus culture that supports Lehigh’s institutional mission and as “something intangibly necessary for the human development of all students.
“We are grateful to the many local businesses and arts organizations that partner with us and support our collaborative efforts,” she said. “It definitely takes a community effort to keep the arts alive and thriving in Bethlehem, and on our campus.”
This is the first Institutional Award granted to a Lehigh program by the Commission, individual recipients have included Ricardo Viera, professor of art and architecture and curator of the Lehigh University Art Galleries, who was honored in 1998, and Deborah Sacarakis, artistic director of the Zoellner Arts Center, who was honored in 2002.
Community recipients of the prestigious award have included the Bach Choir, Touchstone Theatre, WDIY-FM, the Pennsylvania Youth Theater, the Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the Banana Factory, the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Bethlehem Palette Club.
White, the former director of the Muse Machine for the Performing Arts Council of Toledo, came to Lehigh with a rich background in the arts, as performer, administrator, teacher and community volunteer.
In addition to her work as director of Arts Engagement and Community Cultural Affairs for Lehigh, White plays bassoon with the Lehigh University Philharmonic, teaches for the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, and serves on a number of cultural arts boards in Bethlehem.