Festival UnBound

Visioning the future – through art – together

In 1998, after an almost 150 year history building this nation, Bethlehem Steel finally shut down steel-making here in Bethlehem. It was a traumatic event, and Touchstone, to help the community work its way through it, created and assembled several works of art and cultural projects into a festival called Steel Festival: The Art of an Industry – including the original play Steelbound.

In October 2019, 20 years after that extraordinary event, we began to explore questions of a different and perhaps more daunting nature. Who are we, now that the Steel is gone? What are the challenges ahead, and what are the values that will hold the community together as we face the task of shaping our future? Out of these questions came our first year of Festival UnBound, a collection of arts and community dialogue around concerns of diversity, sustainability, health, youth leadership, and interconnectedness. Check out this recap of the 2019 festival.

Over the next three years, the festival continued, furthering the discussion and bringing audiences together in a time when loneliness and isolation were the norm. We welcomed guest artists from across the U.S. and abroad, as well as new and longtime local partners, to dig deeper into the questions at hand. You can revisit 2022’s Festival UnBound via the final report.

Now, in its fifth year, Festival UnBound continues to change what it means to bring a community together and innovate new ideas to move us all in the right direction.