About Us

The Parliament works with emerging artists through professional development programming. We combine this with large community events to advance the revitalization of downtown York through the arts.

 In 2010, the tenants of 116 E. King St. had the idea to turn their townhouse into a community art space. They had several gifted friends and acquaintances that rarely had the opportunity to share their artistic talents. So with the help of community supporters, the tenants formed “The Parliament,” a nonprofit community arts collective.

In just one year, The Parliament’s art shows began to draw the masses, filling the block with excitement and energy. The Parliament quickly became York’s advocate for talented and overlooked creative professionals. Energy had filled the block and vacant offices and storefronts on the 100 block of E. King Street slowly turned into artist studios, galleries and boutiques.

The nonprofit now serves as an anchor property in the downtown York neighborhood of Royal Square, located between the intersections of King, Queen, Princess and Duke Streets. The success of The Parliament’s programs and initiatives has directly lead to the founding of new galleries and businesses in this neighborhood. Since early 2011, under the Parliament’s leadership, Royal Square has expanded to include 4 additional galleries. Approximately 30 artists and musicians live or work in Royal Square and its galleries and studio spaces. In addition to the galleries and residents, Royal Square is also home to 5 additional businesses that are either currently open or opening in Spring 2014, that will in total employ over 45 people.


New and developing artists may be experts at their craft, but they need professional support to bring their art to the marketplace.

Through our work we’ve reinvigorated a desire for affordable local art, provided artists with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in making their passions profitable and have given the community an event space unparalleled in our area.

The Parliament works with artists of all genres, including poets, painters, graphic designers, sculptors, filmmakers, photographers, printmaker’s fashion designers and makeup artists. We work with each artist in professionally developing their craft, themselves and their business through:

We mentor the arts community on how to market their work and themselves, working with them to bring their vision to a larger audience.  We work one-on-one with each artist to provide public relations support and opportunity by utilizing media coverage, social media spotlights, event and print marketing. This simple act exposes and connects local artists to a community of supporters and also gives them oftentimes a first time experience working with a professional gallery.

Providing resources on how to professionally produce or prepare work for presentation:
Many of our artists have never shown their artwork before in a gallery setting. Our guidance through connecting artists with local resources gives many new artists the relevant knowledge to advance their craft. We also provide on-site professional framing equipment, services and classes.

For our poets, we’ve reached a community of newer and younger poets that have not had the opportunity to present their work to the community. We hold workshops and mentoring sessions on subjects ranging from audience, to projection, voice control and distraction. This helps ready them for public presentation in any artistic setting.

Educating them on pricing their work
We teach artists how to ready their work for market. Through our experience selling artwork in York, we are able to advise the artists on areas such as pricing, presentation and promotion. We do not set the prices for them, but educate them on how to create their own formula for pricing that can include such variables as cost of materials, size of the work, time spent on the piece and geographic market location.

Providing affordable on-site workspace
Our gallery houses five-artist studios, with a range of prices to accommodate everyone, giving artists a workspace surrounded by other artists to inspire and inspire each other.

Connecting and communicating area opportunities
We inform and directly connect each artist with area opportunities to showcase their work in other cities as well as the region. By keeping track of the ongoing activities of other local art spaces and projects, we are able to share the information with all of our artists in order to match them with even more ways to share their work with our community.

We assist artists in funding their projects
We have directly provided funding to support our artist’s projects, as well as assisted our artists in researching and connecting them directly to other funding. We have found that this part of our professional development programming is imperative to how we operate, as there is oftentimes little funding opportunities for the arts community in Pennsylvania, and sustaining our artists is key in community revitalization.


By doubling our traffic foot to the neighborhood in 2014 we are confident in meeting our goals of continuing to restore the historic buildings of our neighborhood and attract new entrepreneurs and artists.  Our current efforts are starting us on the right path to do so, such as relocating our signature event, Spring Forward to a building in our neighborhood. This event alone will bring in over 400 new visitors in one night.  Combined with press and media exposure, the reach of our mission and neighborhood will stretch far beyond York City.

In addition to our events, six new businesses are slated to open in the summer of 2014 on Duke Street, all brought in by the Parliament’s efforts.  Their sustainability depends on foot traffic, and the events the Parliament promotes and creates will secure this traffic.

In cities all across the United States urban and economic revitalization has been spurred in once blighted neighborhoods through arts initiatives.  The leadership of the Parliament and Royal Square has done extensive research on similar projects in other cities, has met with the thought leaders who have implemented these projects and learned from them best practices that we could apply to York.

Our goals are in line with other initiatives currently taking place in York City and align with the York Economic Alliance and The City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) Program, as well as the ArtSpace survey.  The arts have long been a part of York and have been part of the resurgence of the Market District of the City.  We are using these same efforts to revitalize the Eastside of York and make it a culturally vibrant, economic and residential neighborhood.


Affordable Venue for Artists to Grow
– We provide inexpensive studio spaces for up to 8 local artists, and have facilitated over 30 artists moving in to the block.

Premiering Local Filmmakers – We have launched two movie premiers, including Bryan Plow’s “Under One Sun” at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum and a local art documentary, “George St. Artists”, at The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Social Venture Grant Recipient – We were awarded a YorIT Grant from the York County Community Foundation.

 Event Collaboration – We have produced events such as the “Spring Forward” fashion show, which is a successful art show highlighting several York City merchants, artists, models and photographers.

Community Philanthropist – We hosted a fundraiser for Reid Menzer Skatepark and participated at Yorkfest to engage hundreds of children in free art-related activities. We continue to provide artwork for various non-profits and businesses, which have included Downtown Inc., CGA Law Firm, Marketview Arts, CoWork155 and the York City government offices.

 Economic Development Catalyst – Since opening on King St., four additional galleries have opened, and ten new businesses as of June 2014. Also, The Bond building An empty 40,000 square foot warehouse space has been purchased by developers with the intent to create an arts themed wedding and event venue.


Our Staff

Executive Director Alexandra Dwyer | Gallery Director Stacy McClain

Our Board of Directors

President Joshua Hankey | Vice President Michael Helfrich

Secretary Gregory Timmons | Treasurer Dan Hevner

Holly DeKarske | Devon Myers | Rebecca Kingston Countess | Missi Ritter

What’s the deal with the owl?

The Owl directly correlates with our name The Parliament. A Parliament is simply a group of owls. In Native-American folklore owls represent helpfulness, and wisdom, two characteristics we strive to inflict through our actions as an organization. This theme associated with owls also continues in Greek mythology. Athena, the goddess of wisdom adored owls, and had one accompanying her on her shoulder which revealed unseen truths to her. The owl was a symbol of protection and honesty, displayed on Greek currency and flying above the Greek armies.