Local Share Fix Includes Grant to Upgrade the Banana Factory

HARRISBURG, May 24, 2017 – Today, as part of House Bill 271, the State Senate fixed the local share issue and included a dedicated funding source to upgrade the Banana Factory. 

The bill now moves to the House.  As passed by the Senate, ArtsQuest would receive $250,000 for 20 years to upgrade the Banana Factory on Third Street in South Bethlehem. The entire project will cost $18 million.

“When completed the new Banana Factory will feature art-based preschool and early childhood development programing, a giant digital display on the building’s exterior, 2-D and 3-D maker space, additional studios and a 500-seat black box comedy theater,” Boscola said. “This grant will have a profoundly positive impact on ArtsQuest and our region’s continued development.” 

Boscola said the funding will come from the local share component of the state’s gaming program. Pointing to how the Banana Factory’s revitalization is complementing investment and development throughout the area, she thanked fellow Senators Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) and Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) for working cooperatively with her on such a key regional asset.

Opening in 1997, the Banana Factory was created out of the old Theodoredis and Sons banana warehouse. It is currently home to 30 artists in residence, a gallery, hot glass studio and children’s theater. Since SteelStacks opened in 2011, ArtsQuest has quadrupled its arts programming – with demand outpacing available space.

Nearly 20 years ago, ArtsQuest was the first major redevelopment project following the closure of the steel mill. She said Musikfest, the Banana Factory, and Steel Stacks have championed efforts to promote art and stimulate the area’s economy.

“Clearly, the growth and expansion of our region’s arts community has contributed to our economy, enriched our citizens and spurred additional growth and development,” Boscola said.

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