Empowering the Arts in Transforming Places

Saturday, June 17, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
They used to run on steel, cars, tourism and industry--hear how communities across the nation are reviving through the creative economy, as well as how LAAs are playing a central role. Bethlehem, PA, Toledo, OH, and Memphis, TN are all at crossroads, and arts organizations, artists and government agencies are working together to transform their communities into dynamic places thriving and reviving on arts and creative life.

This session addresses issues of advocacy, arts education, community development, equity/diversity/inclusion, engagement, fundraising, leadership, private sector engagement, public art, and public value.

This session is part of the Embracing Reinvention sessions.


Kassie Hilgert
President & CEO
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Kassie Hilgert is President & CEO of ArtsQuest, the 9th largest nonprofit arts organizations in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1984, ArtsQuest is dedicated to providing unparalleled access to the arts, as well as using arts and culture as key tools for economic development in the region. Each year, it presents over 2,200 concerts, art and educational programs, with 65 percent of this programming available to the community for free. Hilgert has been with ArtsQuest since 2008, starting as the organization’s Vice President of Advancement before being promoted to Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advancement in 2010. In July 2014, following a national search, Hilgert was unanimously selected by the Board of Trustees to be the organization’s second President & CEO. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Hilgert has extensive experience in marketing, development, corporate communications and community relations. Hilgert serves on several nonprofit boards in the region.
Linda Steele
Founder & CEO
Memphis, Tennessee

Linda Steele is Founder & CEO of ArtUp, an innovative startup based in Memphis, Tennessee that uses arts, culture and design strategies to redevelop and revitalize disinvested communities. Linda spent 3 years incubating the work of ArtUp at local arts agency and United Arts Fund, ArtsMemphis including launching the game changing Fellows Program which has received the Robert E. Gard award from Americans for the Arts and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Linda has worked in various arts and cultural organizations including performing arts center, museums, and arts education organizations. Linda is a graduate of Amherst College where she has served as a Wade Fellow and Harvard University.
Marc Folk
Executive Director
Arts Commission of Greater Toledo
Toledo, Ohio
Marc became the Executive Director of the Arts Commission in 2006. Marc served from 2013-2015 as the president of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Toledo Area Cultural Leaders and is a member of the United States Urban Arts Federation. He is a 2006 recipient of the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award and the 2009 winner of the Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award for Arts Administration. He was recognized as the 2010 University of Toledo’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Arts and has served as a grants panelist for the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Marc is a 1998 graduate of the University of Toledo, with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in Printmaking. He is a DJ and avid record collector and lives in Toledo’s Old West End with his son Holden.
Kim Cutcher
Executive Director, Toledo LISC
Local Initiative Services Corporation
Toledo, Ohio

Cutcher, Executive Director of Toledo LISC joined the office as Deputy Director in 2012. During this time, she has been able to secure over $47 million for community partners to advance economic development initiatives in Toledo. Previously, Kim served as the Chief Operating Officer of United North Corporation for five years overseeing their real estate portfolio and operations. In 2001, Cutcher began her career with NorthRiver Development Corporation and fostered the growth of a comprehensive neighborhood-based organization developing $45 million of real estate, and a number of federally funded programs that provided opportunities for low and moderate income families. Cutcher is dedicated to working with the community to build on strategic opportunities that empower individuals and create strong neighborhoods.