Keystone Edge: Showcasing the Business of the Arts in PA

Perry County Arts

This month, the line between business and the arts blurs. Keystone Edge — an online magazine covering what’s next and best in the state — is back with a peek at our latest edition.

Keystone Edge is here with some scintillating stories to cure your winter doldrums. In February, it’s all about how creative enterprises provide an economic boost to their communities, whether through engagement or hard cash.

Our first feature shines a spotlight on Perry County, a mostly rural area in south central Pennsylvania that is home to less than 50,000 people. Despite those demographic challenges, The Perry County Council of the Arts has become a leader in using creativity as a driver for growth.

“It all started back in 1979 with eleven of us sitting around a kitchen table looking for ideas on how to celebrate the arts,” recalls Carol Vracarich, the first PCCA executive director.

The organization’s current initiatives include an artist-in-residence program at local high schools, a wildly popular annual festival at Little Buffalo State Park, enrichment classes and music programming at the historic Landis House in Newport, and the Quilt Barn Trail, a tourist attraction that draws shoppers and diners to the area.

Meanwhile in the PA Wilds, a growing community of artisans from food producers to potters is seeking new outlets for its output. To aid those efforts, the PA Wilds Conservation Buyers Market (April 1) will connect regional producers and retailers, giving buyers the chance to create a curated stock of locally crafted goods.

“So many retailers across the nation are finding the value in selling thoughtfully crafted, locally made products,” says Abbi Peters, managing director of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship. “I’m really hoping retailers of all sizes seize this opportunity to source and stock their shelves with goods crafted in the PA Wilds.”

Of course, there are many ways to foster creativity. Project Vive, a State College startup, is using technology to help those without a voice speak. Founder Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, a Penn State biomedical engineering graduate, developed Voz Box: a low-cost, speech-assistance device for those with conditions such as cerebral palsy or ALS that render them unable to communicate vocally.

At a launch event in September, 70-year-old Arlyn Edelstein of Johnstown — who has non-verbal cerebral palsy— presented her poetry to the public for the first time.

“During my life, I have written dozens of poems, but now I can say them before an audience,” she said.

Also in this month’s issue, Wayne Barz continues to offer his lessons in “Incubating Innovation“. The most recent installment focuses on that first big sale — and why it’s a moment worth celebrating for any entrepreneur.

That’s it for now. Head to for an ever-evolving slate of stories, and check back next month for more on what’s next and best in Pennsylvania.


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