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Sentinel announces partnership to promote arts website

By Joseph Cross

This article was published on Cumberlink.com on August 1, 2016.

The Sentinel in Carlisle will partner with three other Pennsylvania newspapers this September to launch a revived website promoting the U.S. Rt. 15 Artisan Trail in Pennsylvania.

Work has begun to transfer www.rt15arts.com to a platform accessible by The Sentinel, The Gettysburg Times, the Sunbury Daily Item and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, said Gary Adkisson, publisher of The Sentinel.

The newspapers have divided the Rt. 15 corridor through Pennsylvania into four sections that correspond with the geographic markets they serve. Each newspaper will be responsible for uploading news and information about events and activities that take place in their counties.

“We will launch the site and begin promoting it in September through our existing resources, including our daily newspapers and websites,” Adkisson said. He added the combined resources of all four newspapers reach hundreds of thousands of unique readers each month.

Under an agreement worked out by the newspapers publishers, The Sentinel will cover the Rt. 15 Artisan Trail in Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties while The Gettysburg Times will handle Adams and York counties.

Going north, The Daily Item will post content associated with Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties while the Sun-Gazette will be responsible for Lycoming and Tioga counties.

A September timeframe was chosen because American Craft Week begins Oct. 1 and because fall is the season when many communities host fairs, festivals and other arts-related events, according to Adkisson. “When our readers search for these activities we want www.rt15arts.com to be the site of preference to find out where to go, what to do and which vendors to search out along the route.

“Realizing many travelers will make weekend plans along the route, we will also feature restaurants, B&B’s, tourism offices, state parks and a host of other services that will add to the experience and simplify planning,” he added.


The state Department of Community and Economic Development created seven Artisan Trail websites as a way to showcase the arts and promote tourism in Pennsylvania, said Ashley Kurtz, promotions manager for the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation.

DCED supported the Artisan Trails for years before funding was cut, Kurtz said. That prompted the Perry County Council of the Arts to take over the costs associated with hosting the Route 15 website and maintaining its domain.

When the council could no longer bear the costs, CAEDC stepped in to take over in 2013, Kurtz said. “We saw value in the trail. We have great artisans. The concept makes sense. We didn’t want to see it go away. We were just waiting for the right caretaker.”

Adkisson recently attended a Cumberland County tourism brand advisory committee meeting during which Valerie Copenhaver, CAEDC director of marketing, showed the www.rt15arts.comwebsite.

“She mentioned they were looking for someone to take it over and fulfill the mission the site was designed for — to promote awareness and spur economic activity along the Route 15 corridor,” Adkisson said.

The committee presentation gave Adkisson an idea which he investigated by reviewing the designated “art corridor” website. He then had a follow-up conversation with Copenhaver.

“The idea was simply there are four daily newspapers on or in close proximity to Rt. 15 and if anyone can help the site and the various businesses succeed; it was the four of us,” Adkisson said. “Since our newspapers already serve these markets with both print and online products we already know many of the artists, gallery owners, and other types of businesses that are fueled by art tourism.”

Joining forces

As a result, Adkisson contacted the publishers of the Gettysburg, Sunbury and Williamsport newspapers with the idea of joining forces in a partnership to promote the site and drive economic activity along the corridor.

“Partnership is critical because no one of us has the staffing resources to travel the length of Rt. 15 and serve the needs of hundreds of different businesses,” Adkisson said. “But day in and day out, we all have people who cover our core markets and adjoining counties.”

Harry Hartman, publisher of the Gettysburg Times, is looking forward to working with The Sentinel and the other newspapers. “It’s a great opportunity to promote arts in the community,” he said. “It’s a great business opportunity for all of us.”

Frank Leto, publisher of the Daily Item, said it made sense for the newspapers to work together to promote events showcasing the arts along the corridor.

The goal of each website is to promote the art community and associated businesses within a reasonable driving distance of the Artisan Trail, said P.J. Heyman, owner of Village Artisans in Boiling Springs. “I’m very excited that The Sentinel is taking this over and is helping to promote the work of area craftspeople.”

The revamped Artisan Trail website will become another asset in a collection of tools designed to showcase the Cumberland Valley as a destination for travelers moving north and south along the corridor, Kurtz said. She added the newspapers will be a resource to pull together a whole experience by providing information on galleries, artists, restaurants and lodging.

The potential exists for the Rt. 15 Artisan Trail to tie into the Rt. 6 Artisan Trail in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and to Artisan Trails showcasing Rt. 30 east and west in the southern part of the state, Kurtz said.

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