Oct 21, 2020 7:30 AM
Kassie Hilgert, President & CEO of ArtsQuest
The Impact of Covid-19 on Musikfest (2020) and the ArtsQuest Mission

Kassie Hilgert is the President and CEO of ArtsQuest. ArtsQuest is one of the largest arts non-profits in Pennsylvania both in terms of the scope and diversity of its programming. Kassie was named President and CEO of ArtsQuest in 2015 after joining the organization in 2008 as vice president of development.

Kassie discusses the future of MusikFest and the impact of Covid-19 has had on Musikfest (2020) and the ArtsQuest Mission.  To date, ArtsQuest has lost up to 19 million dollars in revenue and counting due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.  What future changes are needed for ArtsQuest to recover from this loss?  In what ways do these challenges possibly threaten or limit the mission of ArtsQuest?  How can we (within the Lehigh Valley Community) chip in to help? 

About Musikfest
Musikfest is an American music festival that has been held annually in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 1984, and it claims to be the nation's largest non-gated free music festival. The festival begins on the first Friday in August (preceded since 2015 with a Thursday "preview night" involving the premium stage and adjacent areas), and ends on the second Sunday thereafter.

Each year, thousands of visitors and residents of Pennsylvania make the trip to Bethlehem to participate in a celebration that weaves through a Moravian community that dates back to 1741. Festival visitors are treated to hundreds of free shows over the course of the event. Each night, the festival's premium stage, Steel Stage (formerly known as RiverPlace and Kunstplatz), hosts a nationally-known recording artist. These premium concerts, along with select shows at other stages, do require paid tickets to gain admission.

Local German roots are the foundation of the celebration, and most of the festival's venues use Platz, the German word for place or square, at the ends of their names. A popular place for eating and listening to music, for example, is the large "Festplatz", which includes 300 dining tables, and usually features a polka band each night. Beyond that, however, Musikfest's music, food, and other attractions represent a broad range of ethnicities.

Musikfest is presented by ArtsQuest, a nonprofit arts organization founded to "celebrate arts and culture" in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Proceeds from the event benefit ArtsQuest ventures such as the Banana Factory community arts center in South Bethlehem, as well as other nonprofit groups throughout the region. Musikfest served as the inspiration for major plot elements of the music film Killian & the Comeback Kids.