This is the first post in a series featuring each of the current members of the Arts Council’s board. We thought you’d like to get to know a few things about the people who help direct the organization, support its mission, and work to secure its future. Ours is a volunteer board of leaders from the community who are selected for their essential skill sets and personal commitment to the arts.
Tom Stathos is the current president of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council (LVAC) board. He is a senior manager in Customer Services for PPL Electric Utilities. Tom joined the board in 2006 after attending Arts Council events with his wife, Joanne, who was on the Membership Committee. After that he was hooked.
Tom’s answers to interview question for this post series reveal how being on the Arts Council board fits him.
Tom, what is your connection to the arts in your life career?
I’ve loved music, literature and the visual and performing arts since my childhood days, and that hasn’t changed.
What attracted you to the Arts Council at first? Why have you continued to support it?
The Arts Council serves the arts community by helping the arts and artists thrive, and making the arts accessible to everyone in the community…from school-aged children to adults. And what I love about the LVAC is that the organization exists not for itself, but for the advancement of the arts and artists in the community. It’s a totally selfless organization that reflects the principled leadership of our executive director, Randall Forte. So, I wanted to see if I could help in some way.
What are the impacts made by the Arts Council that are the most significant to you?
I love our support of school programs, and furthering the arts and arts education in schools. Research consistently points to the positive impact arts education has on academic achievement, and we need to do what we can to make sure arts education is not shortsightedly eliminated in an era of tight budgets.
What are the biggest challenges that you see facing the arts in the Lehigh Valley?
Economic conditions create an ongoing challenge to arts organizations and artists.
How is the Arts Council and its board positioned to help meet those challenges?
It’s by being an advocate for the arts and making sure the region is able to optimize funding for the arts to make sure they continue to exist, thrive and create in the future.
What would you like to see happen in the next 3 years to ensure that the arts and the arts community remain strong?
We need to build on an existing, strong arts community and avoid re-inventing the wheel. Let’s keep what is working successfully and make sure arts organizations stay focused on helping all the arts thrive in the community, and avoid needless dilution of scarce resources. The future viability of a strong arts community is inextricably linked to a strong and viable local economy. We are all in this together, and together we can have an incredibly strong impact. Let’s not lose sight of that.