Thursday, September 3, 2009

"On the Wings of Music": Fostering cross-disciplinary, multi-organization partnership - a case study

I spent part of yesterday watching two huge sculptures by the artist Jun Kaneko be un-crated and erected in the courtyard of City Hall. Very exciting!

The temporary installation of Kaneko's giant "Heads" at City Hall is part of a City-wide celebration that has been dubbed "On the Wings of Music: Art, Opera and You." Stimulated by the Opera Company of Philadelphia's production of Madama Butterfly, which opens on October 9th, a production with set and costume designs by Jun Kaneko, a quite extraordinary multi-faceted partnership has been created:

* From now through 10/24 the two "Heads" will be facing off in the City Hall Courtyard.

* Also through 10/24 five of the artists equally large and dramatic "dango" sculptures will be installed in Commonwealth Plaza of the Kimmel Center.

* From now through April of 2010 the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be displaying four of the "dangos" at their Perelman building.

* The fabrics for the costumes of Madama Butterfuly were custom-made by students at The Fabric Workshop.

* The Locks Gallery, a private art gallery, will be mounting an exhibit of the artists work from 9/22-10/31.

* And, of course, there is the Opera Company production, which runs 10/9-10/18. Plans are afoot to add even more exciting elements, if funding allows. Stay tuned!

The Web site for the program goes live in around 9/8, and is

All of this makes me think how good - relatively speaking - Philly is at these sort of partnerships. People here can be self-critical, talk about how we need more collaboration and partnership, and that is certainly always the case - we can always do better. But I think this partnership is just one of many examples of multi-faceted, multi-organization, public/private partnerships that seem to happen a lot here. I frankly think such partnership is the wave of future, not just here, but throughout the country and even the world. Even the largest arts organizations need to learn how to forge partnerships, for example: to serve underserved communities not by trying to duplicate the work of community-based organizations or compete with them, but to PARTNER with them.

I encourage everyone to check out Kaneko's work all over town!

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