Friday, October 16, 2009

Ignite, ArtBlog, Independence Starts Here...

Had the great experience of participating as a speaker in the most recent Ignite Philly 4 at Johnny Brenda's this past  week. Here is how they describe the program: "Ignite Philly is part of a worldwide network that entertains and educates people in short 5 minute bursts. Ignite Philly is the local group, and is our way to highlight great ideas coming to life here in Philadelphia.Each presenter is on stage for  a total of 5 minutes (20 slides, at 15 seconds each slide). These talks are a ’spark’ if you will, they are lightening fast and leave people with a new idea to mull over and talk about." As a presenter, it is a very interesting presentation challenge, similar to Pecha Kucha now all the rage at conferences - you've got to be REALLY concise and engaging. The thing about Ignite is that it is not a conference. The atmosphere is more alternative music concert/battle of the bands or poetry slam. I spoke about the state of public art in Philadelphia (see my recent post on the subject). It was a very cool experience, and also made me feel very OLD...

Roberta Fallon and Libby Rossoff recently interviewed me for The ArtBlog, one of the great local blogs I follow and so I thought I would share it with you here. They also have a great map-based gallery guide that I think is the best resource of its kind in Philadelphia.

Last week I participated in a press conference for a new initiative called Independence Starts Here. This is a great new program to increase access to the arts for people with disabilities. It is a collaboration between Art Reach, The Philly Fun Guide of Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and Amaryllis Theatre Company. Primary funding for the project comes from the PNC Arts Alive grant program. The great thing about this program is that it addresses not only helping arts organizations make their programs accessible for audiences with visual or hearing impairments, but also helps connect those programs to the audiences that will take advantage of them. A whole new "access" area has been added to the Philly Fun Guide web site, and partnerships with an array of disability services organizations will get the word out directly to their constituencies. This marketing component is where so many arts access programs fall short. Organizations do a sign-interpreted performance, for example, and when deaf audiences don't show up the arts groups stops interpreting, saying "we tried it but nobody came." And the deaf arts lovers say "we don't go because we have no idea how to find out what is available." Voila!  At least for Philly, Independence Starts Here seems to be a pretty effective way to bridge that gap.

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