New Cultural Alliance president eyes ways to better serve the York arts community

Kelley Gibson is instilling new strategies like design thinking to better accomplish the Cultural Alliance’s mission of fueling the creative energy and vibrancy of the York community.

Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Kelley Gibson (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Kelley Gibson grew up in Jackson, New Jersey, a bedroom town that sprung up as a more affordable alternative to big cities and where people are always commuting somewhere else.

She estimates Glory’s Market, founded in 1964, is one of the longest standing landmarks in the town. 

“There was no center, no history, no tie to the community,” she says. 

When she moved to York in the early 1990s to attend York College of Pennsylvania, she fell in love with a city that had the beauty of history everywhere she looked.  

“Coming here and walking around, seeing the buildings from the 1700s — it was just amazing,” she remembers. 

Years later, Kelley continues to admire York’s history and artistic beauty. She’s been helping others do the same with the Cultural Alliance of York County, which named her president last month.

Helping arts in the community 

With the new title, Kelley is hoping to bring a new way of thinking, pivoting the group so that the Cultural Alliance can better serve community organizations.  

Under Kelley’s guidance, the Cultural Alliance is using design thinking – a problem-solving business process utilizing intensive customer interviews to guide solutions – to better accomplish its mission of fueling the creative energy and vibrancy of the York community. 

The arts are an integral part of the community, not something that’s extra.

Kelley Gibson Cultural Alliance President

Trends in those interviews showed a desire for the Cultural Alliance to support not just more organizations, but individual artists as well. Bringing in new organizations wasn’t easy under the old model, but a streamlined process currently in development could change that. 

“This will be something brand new to all of us in the community,” Kelley says. 

In 2020, people or organizations could go through a tier system to be part of the Cultural Alliance, with the alliance providing much needed operational money that allows artists to work on their craft. The Cultural Alliance plans to develop that membership process in 2019. 

It’s an arduous process, but, Kelley says, it’s a necessary one.  

“We can no longer just keep to ourselves, run a campaign and sustain these organizations,” Kelley says. “The arts are an integral part of the community, not something that’s extra. Our goal is that the Cultural Alliance will continue to fuel that long into the future.” 

Paid for by the Cultural Alliance of York County
14 W. Market St., York, PA 17401

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