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Jessica Bien, general manager of theatre and dance, to be honored by Lehigh Valley Arts Council


Part of the College community since 2006, Bien will be recognized for her vision in expanding cultural accessibility

Thursday, April 23, 2015 02:13 PM

Jessica Bien, general manager for Muhlenberg College's department of theatre and dance, will be honored by the Lehigh Valley Arts Council for her efforts to expand cultural accessibility. Bien is one of three community leaders who will be recognized at the organization's annual spring membership reception on June 9, 2015. The event, "Art is a Verb: Let's All Do It," will be held at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, 850 S. Fifth St., Allentown.

Bien has served as the department's general manager since 2006. Prior to her employment at Muhlenberg, she lived in Boston, where she worked as executive assistant to the chief operating officer of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. She also held positions as theatre manager and access coordinator at the Wang. She has served as marketing associate for Zoellner Center for the Arts, at Lehigh University; box office manager and director of marketing for the AmeriCulture Arts Festival; marketing and public relations intern for the Williamstown Theatre Festival; and communications and publications assistant for Hartwick College. Bien has also held production and administrative positions for events at Kutztown University, Civic Theatre and Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre. She holds a certificate in arts administration from the University of Massachusetts and is also a 200-hour certified yoga teacher. Bien has also assisted ACT1 at DeSales University in launching an accessible performance series.

During her nine years as the department's general manager, Bien has implemented several programs designed to broaden accessibility of Muhlenberg's performing arts programs to audience members with disabilities. Initiatives have included open-caption performances for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, audio-described performances for patrons with visual impairments, and improved front-of-house procedures for patrons who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Last summer, at her initiative, Muhlenberg presented a sensory-friendly performance of the Summer Music Theatre children's production "Gruff!" for children with autism and other sensory challenges. Sensory-friendly performances will continue this summer with SMT's "Grimm!" — Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, July 18, at 1 p.m. Audience members can participate in a free hour-long storytelling workshop following the July 18 performance.

Earlier this academic year, Bien accepted a certificate of recognition from the Lehigh Valley Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community on behalf of the department of theatre and dance. 

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is a nonprofit, membership supported organization that serves as a regional advocate and ambassador for the Lehigh Valley arts community. Tickets for "Art is a Verb: Let's All Do It" are available at: http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=8807262&cobrand=lvartsboxoffice

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year college located in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Muhlenberg offers programs in the liberal arts and sciences, along with selected pre-professional studies and a number of interdisciplinary majors.