Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fundred Comes to Philadelphia

LtoR: Mel Chin, Gary Steuer, Christina Roberts, the volunteer "ribbon cutter," Peter Palermo. Photo by J_Bussman

Last Sunday was the opening of Mel Chin’s Uncommon Wealth by the People of Philadelphia at The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Unfortunately I don't think this project has gotten as much media attention as it should because it frankly is hard to explain in an easy sentence or two, or "sound bite."

Mel Chin is an artist whose work often incorporates a social or civic engagement aspect. This Philadelphia project -  Uncommon Wealth - is part of a national initiative, the Fundred Dollar Bill Project, itself a spin-off of the project Operation Paydirt. Complicated enough yet? I first heard about this project not long after Hurricane Katrina when I met Mel in New Orleans at a museum exhibition opening - the project was just begin to take shape in his imagination.  Mel was seeking a way to use art to address the enormous calamity of New Orleans. He learned of the many children sickened by contaminated soil, which he initially assumed was caused by the flooding. What he learned was that the dangerous levels of lead contamination in soil within the city of New Orleans predated Katrina. Through further research he learned that scientific methods existed to actually neutralize the lead in the soil - much easier than replacing all the soil in the City. I won't even begin to try and explain the science of it - for that you'll have to contact Mel. He also learned this problem of lead contaminated soil was epidemic in many cities across the country (Philadelphia in fact is one of the worst, because of its age, industrial heritage, and profusion of old row houses and commercial structures almost all of which are filled with lead paint, that enters the soil when the buildings are demolished).   The estimated cost of this effort for New Orleans was $300,000,000. The strategy he developed was to have children (eventually expanded to anyone to anyone who wanted to participate; as Mel puts it there is an age cut-off of 125 years old) literally make mock hundred dollar bills, equal to  the $300 million needed.

A Fundred Dollar Bill is a blank template of a United States One Hundred Dollar Bill. In cities across the nation, Fundreds are being drawn by children in classrooms, art students, professional artists, senior citizens - anybody who wants to participate.  Mel has created a custom armored car - the Sous Terre - with a specially uniformed driver who is literally traveling the nation picking up the Fundreds (I should note the armored truck is powered by used vegetable oil, which is collected from schools along the way). On Sunday he made his stop in Philadelphia. The goal is to collect three million Fundreds—the equivalent of the cash needed to clean all dangerous soil in New Orleans—and then to present it to Congress with the request that the Fundreds be traded for real federal funding for the project in an equal amount. It is Mel's hope that this effort will not only help New Orleans but raise awareness and funds to help other cities - like Philadelphia - grappling with this serious public health challenge.

In Philadelphia the special Fundred installation is in The New Temporary Contemporary at the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) - this is what opened last Sunday. The installation (behind a fabricated "vault" door) houses a "minting station" where visitors can draw their Fundreds and then display them on the gallery walls. At the opening I joined Mel, as well as Peter Palermo, Director of the City of Philadelphia Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and Christina Roberts of FWM to officially open the gallery to the public. Scores of people showed up to participate - including my parents, who happened to be in town. It was great to have Peter there, to talk persuasively about the specific challenge of lead-contaminated soil right here in Philadelphia, and what parents can do to ensure their children are not affected. There are some great photos here.

As people draw their Fundreds they are being tacked to the walls and the goal is to fill the walls with these bills. Even the "minting station" is a work of art that plays off of Philadelphia history. It is hand-made by Mel to evoke an 18th Century writing desk. The legs of the long table are now uncarved but during the course of the installation he intends to carve them to replicate classic Philadelphia furniture in the PMA collection. The FWM will also fabricate a decorative "shipping pallet" on which the entire three million Fundreds will be stacked and presented to Congress.

So, if you are in Philadelphia, find your way over to FWM to make your Fundred and be a part of this project. If you are in another city, find out how to participate in your own town. You can also go to the Fundred web site itself and print out a template and send it in. This project represents a way in which art can help educate, inspire and galvanize people to address a critical community health challenge. The project is now at $31 million in Fundreds - only a bit more than 10% of the way there. the original goal was to present the $ in DC in July, but it now looks like the Fundred creation time will be extended to make sure the goal is reached. Help make the goal!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Council Testimony on the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy

Yesterday I had the opportunity to testify before the Philadelphia City Council about the 2011 proposed budget for the Office of Arts, Culture and the Create Economy. This was actually the first time the Office has been invited to present its own testimony to City Council. In past years (before the Office was shut and then reopened) it was included as part of the testimony of Commerce/City Representative, the department within which the Office was housed. While testimony is not necessarily the most fun part of doing one's job, it is a very important part of the process, and in the case of our work here, a great opportunity to tell the story of what the Office has accomplished this past year. We were grateful to have this opportunity to speak directly to Council and answer their questions. As the testimony is a public record, and may be of interest to the public, I thought it might be helpful to share some highlights here, focusing on the 2010 accomplishments and 2011 plans.


April 21, 2010

Good afternoon President Verna and members of City Council, I am Gary Steuer and I am the Chief Cultural Officer and Director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. I am here today to present testimony on the Office of Arts Culture and the Creative Economy’s proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2011. I am also joined by Deputy Cultural Officer, Moira Baylson.

I am delighted to be here today on this very special occasion, as it marks the first time in City history that the City’s Arts Office is providing official budget testimony before City Council. I am honored to have the opportunity to report on the Office’s accomplishments over the past year, and to explain how our Office plans to use and leverage City funds in Fiscal Year 2011.

The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy adopted its own budget last year, in Fiscal 2010, after consolidating programs and services from multiple departments.

The Mission of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is to improve access to the arts for both residents and visitors; expand arts education for young people; oversee all the City’s arts programs; support the growth and development of the City’s arts, culture, and creative economy sector, by promoting public and private investment in the creative economy sector; coordinate with relevant City agencies to unify the City’s arts efforts; and serve as a liaison between the City’s many cultural institutions. The Office’s focus extends beyond the city’s nonprofit arts sector, to its individual artists, design industries, music clubs and other entertainment ventures, all of which help make Philadelphia a vibrant and thriving place to live and work.

FY10 Accomplishments
Re-established in October 2008, the Office has successfully consolidated the Public Art Program, Art in City Hall, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and cultural development and creative economy efforts into one office. We are very near to completing an office renovation in Room 116 in City Hall, where all seven staff members will relocate. Housed in this space will include our administrative offices, as well as The Art Gallery in City Hall, a public space that will serve both as an exhibition space and a space to highlight arts and culture events in Philadelphia – a true extension of what is happening in the City. Approximately $30,000 of private funding was raised for the renovations in this space from the generosity of PNC Bank, an individual donation, and InterfaceFlors.  Every effort was made to make the space as environmentally friendly as possible, in keeping with the goals of Greenworks Philadelphia.

In Fiscal Year 2010, with leadership from the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, a diverse group of cultural, creative business and philanthropic leaders, we engaged in a Strategic Planning process for the Office. The Strategic Plan includes strategies for communications, funding, administration, public art and programs. We expect to share the final plan with the Mayor and City Council in June of 2010.

Of the Office’s 2010 budget of roughly $3.9 million, 87% of the funding went out in the form of grants to the cultural community. The Office’s modest administrative costs, approximately a half million dollars, is mostly spent on personnel. Very few of the programs and initiatives operating out of the Office are funded with General Fund dollars. The Office has and is committed to, leveraging the City’s investment in the arts with other public and private sources.

In Fiscal Year 2010, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund will distribute $3.05 million to 238 Philadelphia cultural organizations. Additionally, the Fund, in partnership with the Office, created a new grant program in 2010 called the Youth Enrichment Program. The program will distribute $350,000 in grants to existing cultural fund recipients who have exemplary youth arts programs.

We also just recently announced a new partnership with Ovation, a premier arts and entertainment television station that will yield $500,000 in media sponsorship opportunities for Philadelphia cultural organizations.

The Office was involved with two American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Initiatives in Fiscal Year 2010. With the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, we jointly applied for and received $250,000 in NEA Recovery funding for the retention of jobs in the Arts. We distributed grants of $15,000 and $25,000 to ten diverse Philadelphia arts organizations.

Through a partnership with the Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Commerce, we created a $500,000 grant program for the creative sector from the City’s $14 million allocation of CDBG Recovery funds. In March, Creative Industry Workforce Grants ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 were awarded to eight creative businesses for the construction or renovation of affordable artist workspaces, performance spaces and creative multi-tenant spaces. These grants for capital improvements will stimulate temporary construction jobs. Projects were selected based on their ability to serve low and moderate-income neighborhoods and to create permanent jobs. This exciting new program is already serving as a national model for the use of CDBG funds for the arts and creative sectors.

With a collection of over 1,000 pieces, the Public Art Program commissions new works of permanent public art through the City’s Percent for Art Ordinance (established in 1959), and oversees the preservation and maintenance of the City's public art collection.  Currently there are eight Percent for Art Projects in various stages of development. These include site-specific paintings for the Philadelphia Youth Study Center in West Philadelphia and hand-carved polished granite seating elements for the Venice Island Recreation Center in Manayunk. Just completed and to be dedicated tomorrow (4/22), is the restoration, stabilization and regilding of the 120-year-old Fairmount Park landmark Joan of Arc statue at 25th Street and Kelly Drive.  This project was funded by City capital dollars and a grant from the French Heritage Society. Recommendations from the recently-completed study, "Philadelphia Public Art: The Full Spectrum" include collaboratively promoting the City’s Public Art Program with other related public and private organizations in Philadelphia, in order to maximize impact and leverage limited resources. In response, the Office in partnership with Mural Arts will soon be offering new public trolley tours that include both Murals and the City’s Public Art collection.

Another major accomplishment of the Office was identifying a permanent home for Red Groom’s Philadelphia Cornucopia at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Planned as a temporary piece inspired by the City’s tri-centennial, this large-scale “sculpto-pictorama” was commissioned by the Institute for Contemporary Art in 1982, and was exhibited in several other locations around the city before it became part of the Civic Center Museum’s collection. The City became the custodian of this monumental artwork and has been storing the piece since the Museum’s closing in the 1990s. An agreement has been reached with PAFA, where it will undergo restoration and will ultimately be exhibited once more.

Since 1992, Art In City Hall has presented exhibitions that showcase contemporary artwork by professional and emerging Philadelphia visual artists.Encompassing a variety of mediums, techniques, and subjects, this program strives to link visual artists with the larger community by providing the public with a greater knowledge and appreciation of their artistic achievements. “Emerging” artists include community-based art from Philadelphia’s public schools, community nonprofits, and other city agencies, including an annual exhibition highlighting art from City of Philadelphia employees and family members.

Art in City Hall has approximately eight shows a year and features many partnerships. For example, last year, Fairmount Park and Moore College of Art and Design teamed up to present a juried exhibition inspired by five historic homes in Fairmount Park. We also collaborated with the Health Federation of Philadelphia for a student poster contest in celebration of National Health Center Week. Through May 21, in celebration of National Developmental Disabilities Month, an exhibition by The Arc of Philadelphia/Philadelphia Developmental Disabilities Corps features artists with disabilities. The Art in City Hall program is supported by an independent Art Advisory Council made up of arts professionals and private citizens. Support for the entire exhibitions budget for Art in City Hall is made of private donations.

FY11 Initiatives
We anticipate an official opening of the Art Gallery in City Hall in late spring, to be accompanied by an announcement of the six planned exhibitions for the new space. We will also be working on undertaking a branding and marketing initiative of the Office and its programs, including consolidating existing websites into one official website that can better connect the City programs and services to the cultural community and the public.

This summer the Office will release a report—funded by the William Penn Foundation—on the health and vitality of the Creative Economy with a new tool called the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) The CVI is a framework for conceptualizing the elements of the City’s creative economy and is an advanced tool for tracking change within the creative sector. The findings in this index will help guide the development of new programs and enhance current programs both within the Office and throughout the city, which serve and add capacity to the creative sector.

We also plan to launch an annual version of the Creative Industry Workforce Grant program (previously funded through the Recovery CDBG), as part of the City’s Consolidated Plan and will provide the details of this program with our partners, the Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Commerce at the Consolidated Plan hearing.

This summer, the Art in City Hall Program, with the Mural Arts Program, will bring art by professional self-taught artists from SCI Graterford, the Philadelphia Prison System and ex-offenders to City Hall. Also planned for 2011 is a School District Student Exhibition, collaboration with Fresh Artists, a nonprofit working to raise funds for school arts supplies.

A Percent for Art project incorporating artist-designed streetscapes will occur on the Delaware Waterfront, between 2nd Street and the new Race Street Pier Park, enhancing access and visibility to the riverfront. Additionally, Engine 38, a new fire station planned for the Tacony neighborhood’s Disston Park and the Philadelphia Water Department’s planned 61st Street Maintenance facility will both feature “green artwork,” and themes of environmental sustainability and ecological restoration, furthering our efforts to becoming the “greenest city in America.” With private funding from the William Penn Foundation, we will also launch a Temporary Public Art Program, which will bring public art to Philadelphia’s underserved neighborhoods.

FY11 Budget Details and Explanation 
[Note: Aside from some technical budget adjustments, which were explained in this area of the testimony, all major funding categories within the proposed 2011 Office of Arts Culture and the Creative Economy budget remain level, including the $3.2 million for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. The official testimony also included as attachments a detailed list of Percent for Art projects, Art in City Hall exhibitions and Philadelphia Cultural Fund 2010 grantees]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Last Post on Arts Advocacy Day 2010 - I promise!

L-R: Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia; Michael Norris of Arts-Reach; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutte; Julie Hawkins of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA); Moira Baylson, Deputy Cultural Officer,;John McInerney, GPCA

Had to post this photo of some of the Philly crew who were in DC cheering on the Mayor at his testimony. Also, in case anyone missed it, here is the link to the video of the testimony by the Mayor and others, such as General Nolan Bivens, Bob Lynch, and Jeff Daniels.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More from Arts Advocacy Day - Arts and National Security

Since the testimony of retired Brigadier General Nolen Bivens was - as reported earlier - a new addition to the usual array of perspectives presented in support of the arts, here is a link to his full written testimony. His testimony also got extensive coverage in the LA Times. I think it is well worth reading.

He presented three policy areas in which he notes that his "experience in the military has shown that support for arts and culture can improve our national security needs, provide a pathway to stronger cultural diplomacy and quality of life for our wounded warriors and veterans transitioning into a civilian life." These are clustered under three headings: 1) Asymmetrical Warfare Requires Creative Solutions and Innovative Thinking. 2) Cultural Diplomacy is a Key Security Strategy, and 3) Arts Help Support Wounded Warriors and Veterans Transition to Civilian Life.

As Subcommittee chair Jim Moran noted, a small share of our massive military budget would go a long way if directed towards these arts programs. Of course, one statistic that is often bandied about is that the combined budgets of all the military marching bands and other arts programs exceeds that of the National Endowment for the Arts.(Don't have exact numbers on this - anyone with the facts, feel free to comment!)

It would be great not to have to continually make these arguments that the value of the arts is because it helps address one social or political problem or another - I can hear the groaning and the eye-rolling out there: "Great, now we have to add national security to economic impact, community revitalization, education and workforce development, crime reduction, etc. Can't we just get funded for making art?" The reality is that we need all the arrows in our quiver. Many WILL fund you just to make your art. Some will WANT to fund you just to make your art but need other arguments to help make the case to their boards or give them political "cover." Still others could care less about the art, but might STILL be supporters and advocates if they believe we affect something else they believe is important. We need to be building the biggest tent of supporters possible, and I for one welcome our military leaders into it...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arts Advocacy Day Wrap-up; Mayor's Testimony

Arts Advocacy Day, organized as always by Americans for the Arts with many co-sponsoring organizations,  featured a  compelling talk by Mayor Joe Reilly of Charleston on the role of design and beauty in "city-making" using his own city as a case study for how dogged attention to quality design, architecture, green space, waterfront development and cultural assets can transform a city. It was (I gather) pretty much a talk he has been working on and updating for years as part of the Mayor's Institute on City Design, a partnership between the NEA and the US Conference of Mayors. The fact that he has given the talk in different versions many times before did not make it any less compelling. Fascinating to see from a Philadelphia perspective, as so many of the challenges Charleston faced were so similar, albeit on a smaller scale. Many neighborhoods filled with beautiful historic homes now abandoned and decaying to the point of public danger. A downtown with large stretches of under-utilized property, parking garages that break up the streetscape and become an urban eyesore, a waterfront that is unavailable for public use , surrounded by highways or old industrial sites. Nice that Mayor Reilly also gave a big shout-out to Mayor Nutter, to a big round of applause.

After the usual "pep rally" Congressional Arts Kickoff breakfast (much of which I missed) we moved over to the hearing room in the Rayburn building. Nancy Pelosi received the  2010 Public Leadership in the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts at the Kickoff, and apparently offered praise for Mayor Nutter, even though we were stuck in traffic and not there yet. Rocco Landesman delivered the National Endowment for the Arts official testimony. This was followed by testimony from Bob Lynch of Americans for the Arts, actor Kyle MacLachlan, actor Jeff Daniels, Terri Aldrich, Executive Director of the Minot ND Area Council on the Arts, Charles Segars, CEO of Ovation, and Brig. General Nolen Bivens (ret.). And of course, Mayor Michael Nutter.

It was the usual well-orchestrated diverse group of testifiers - a business perspective, public sector perspective, artists talking about how the NEA-funded arts groups fueled their growth, and someone delivering the message that the arts are for rural communities too - a nice contrast to the Mayor's more urban-focused testimony, and important to garner support from legislators representing largely rural districts. General Bivens offered a less-often heard case, that arts and culture are key to our international diplomacy and even military national security issues.

There was a nice big contingent from Philadelphia, Including Julie Hawkins, John McInerney and Tom Kaiden, Michael Norris, a big contingent of arts administration students from Drexel, and many others (apologies for anyone I have missed by name). For me, having Americans for the Arts roots, this gathering is always a great opportunity to re-connect with AFTA friends, New York arts folks, and colleagues from all over the country. It was great to see so many wonderful friends - and to try and lure as many of them as possible to visit - or even relocate to - Philadelphia!

Since I am not sure the Mayor's testimony is yet posted anywhere, with apologies for producing a very long blog entry, here is the Mayor's written testimony. I think this was a great opportunity to make a case for the value of the NEA, while also telling the story of the important role the arts are playing in Philadelphia - transforming neighborhoods, stimulating our economy, making Philadelphia an ever more appealing place to live, work and play.

Written Testimony in Support of FY11 Appropriations for the
National Endowment for the Arts
Submitted by the Honorable Michael A. Nutter
Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

Arts Build Communities
April 13, 2010

Mr. Chairman and Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, thank you for providing me this opportunity to testify before you today.  My name is Michael Nutter and I am Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am delighted to be here on Arts Advocacy Day representing the United States Conference of Mayors and cities across the country. I am here to ask the Subcommittee to approve a budget of $180 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the creation, preservation, and presentation of the arts in America.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and I can assure you that in each of our communities, you can feel the presence of the arts. The arts anchor our neighborhoods. They are an integral part of our civic identity, a vital part of the fabric of Philadelphia community life, a key ingredient in the education and enrichment of our children, as well as a major segment of our economy.

As Mayor, it is my job to ensure that Philadelphia becomes a safer, smarter and healthier city, one in which all residents have real opportunities for education, housing, employment and a good quality of life. My goals for Philadelphia include:

1. Economic Recovery and Jobs
Philadelphia grows as a green city

2. Enhancing Public Safety
Philadelphia becomes the safest large city in the country

3. Investing in Youth and Protecting the Most Vulnerable
Philadelphia’s youth and vulnerable populations have the opportunity to thrive

4. Reforming Government
Reforming city government to work better and cost less

Within each of these four goals, there has been a role for the arts. Today I want to demonstrate the importance of the arts by discussing recent initiatives in Philadelphia, ways we are transforming communities through the arts, the importance of the arts to our economy, and the impact of NEA funding in Philadelphia.

The Arts in Philadelphia
Shortly after taking office in 2008, I showed my commitment to the arts by reestablishing the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and by creating the position of Chief Cultural Officer. The Chief Cultural Officer is a member of my cabinet, giving the arts a prominent role in my administration. The Office gives the public a single point of contact for the arts and creative industries, and an enthusiastic partner in creative problem solving. As a city, we seek to employ the arts to strengthen City services and improve the lives of Philadelphians.

In my first term as Mayor, I increased the allocation to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the City’s arts grantmaking body, from $2.2 million to $3.2 million. Despite significant fiscal challenges, I have kept my promise to maintain the Fund at this level. Even in tough times, cultural organizations can be a catalyst to population growth, workforce development and a strong economy. Furthermore, I established the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, an esteemed group of cultural, creative business and philanthropic leaders who are an incredible resource to me and to this newly created office. The Council’s role is to make sure we are truly addressing the needs of the arts community and the public.

In addition to supporting and nurturing the arts community in Philadelphia, I am also finding creative ways the arts can help us achieve our larger visionary goals. I applaud NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman for his commitment to working across agencies at the federal level. Philadelphia leaders also see the value in this and we have been looking to the arts as a tool to strengthen programs and services across departments: particularly in the areas of health, housing, prisons, planning and economic development, transportation, and education. Just last Friday our Streets Department organized an event to promote “Unlitter Us” – a movement to clean up Philadelphia, and it featured the talents of spoken word poets and musicians.

Transforming Communities in Philadelphia
Through its nationally known Mural Arts Program, the City continues to address a number of social issues such as public safety, education and youth development. Mural Arts works with the court system, prisoner re-entry programs and other groups to build healthy and sustainable communities using community based public art projects. Each year the Mural Arts Program works with over 100 communities and employs more than 300 artists, revitalizing open spaces, and re-mediating blight with colorful and innovative public art projects. To date, this program is responsible for approximately 2,800 murals in the City of Philadelphia. The Mural Arts Program is a recipient of NEA funding.

Arts Education is critical to the success of our education goals. This year, the City’s Philadelphia Cultural Fund launched a new program, The Youth Arts Enrichment Program, to foster youth engagement in the arts. The program will distribute $350,000 in grants to exemplary arts education programs. Additionally, through a newly created organization, Arts Rising, there is a commitment to improving and expanding equitable access to arts education for all children in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Several weeks ago, I announced the recipients of the Creative Industry Workforce Grants, a new and groundbreaking program funded through the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This program is a partnership between Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Eight creative businesses received a total of $500,000 in grants ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 for the construction or renovation of affordable artist workspaces, performance spaces and creative multi-tenant spaces. These grants for capital improvements will stimulate temporary construction jobs. Businesses were selected based on their ability to serve low and moderate-income neighborhoods and to create permanent jobs. This exciting new program is already serving as a national model for the use of CDBG funds for the arts and creative sectors.

Arts and Economic Impact
Arts organizations employ our residents, and attract and retain residents, job seekers and businesses. On a regional basis, about 1,300 non-profit arts organizations put on more than 50,000 events annually. The regional non-profit cultural sector generates $1.3 billion in annual expenditures, 40,000 jobs and $158.5 million in State and local taxes (Source: Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, 2008 Portfolio Report).

Philadelphians love the arts, so it is not surprising that 83% of Philadelphia area residents attended an arts or cultural event in the last year. Attendees spend an average of $37.32 per person in addition to the ticket price. Visits to arts organizations total 15 million per year (Portfolio Report). Arts and cultural organizations also attract regional and international visitors. Tourists whose patronize local arts and culture spend an average of $166 more than other tourists, a 36% increase in dollars spent (Source: Travel Industry Association)

Philadelphia Organizations Supported by the NEA
The NEA supports Philadelphia arts organizations through its four programs: Access to Artistic Excellence, Challenge America: Reaching Every Community, Federal/State Partnerships, and Learning in the Arts. Philadelphia organizations can also receive NEA funding through our state arts agency, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; our regional arts agency, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; and through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, the designated Local Arts Agency authorized to re-grant federal funds. This year, Philadelphia organizations also received funding through a $50 million allocation to the NEA from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Many of Philadelphia’s acclaimed museums, historic sites, theaters, dance companies, music organizations, universities and arts education organizations are the recipients of NEA funding. This funding supports the creation of new visual and performance artworks, it fosters collaborations between organizations, supports education programming, funds research and marketing efforts, the creation of public art, and free and low cost access to museums and theaters. In the case of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NEA funding saved jobs. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the country with a remarkable collection, exhilarating exhibition program and exemplary arts education program. The Museum’s free and low cost programs are accessible to all Philadelphians and are made possible with NEA funding. The internationally acclaimed Philadelphia Orchestra produces Arts in the Park, a series of performances in Fairmount Park’s Mann Center for Performing Arts, as well as free neighborhood concerts in Philadelphia. Both organizations are funded by the NEA.

The Kimmel Center and its many diverse resident companies, located in the heart of our downtown arts district, are also funded by the NEA. Resident company Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) hosted the 22nd Annual International Conference of Blacks in Dance, in partnership with the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a grant from the NEA. The conference brought together dance professionals from across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean to network, strategize, and share their artistic experiences. Philadelphia just closed its first international print and contemporary art festival, Philagraphika 2010, one of the largest events of its kind in the United States, with 300 artists and 80 venues participating. This four month-long festival, which will now be a triennial event, was also supported by the NEA.

Funding from the NEA’s Recovery allocation was distributed in a number of ways: directly through the NEA, through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and locally in Philadelphia. This funding helped to strengthen many Philadelphia organizations and artists, enabling them to continue their work while providing direct and ancillary economic benefits to our region.

There has been some criticism about the use of Recovery funding for arts organizations. As a Mayor who feels strongly that the arts are not only a key element of our economy, but also a catalyst for other important areas of economic growth, I want to reiterate my support for organizations and initiatives funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Philadelphia organizations such as Pig Iron Theater Company and Spiral Q Puppet Theater are award winning, highly regarded and successful businesses that are important members of Philadelphia’s economy. These organizations received grants directly through the NEA for purpose of job retention to save jobs. Arts jobs are jobs too! 

The City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy also partnered with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance to distribute $225,000 to organizations as job retention grants. Ten organizations received grants and ten jobs were saved as a result. There has been overwhelming support from Philadelphia's civic leaders and residents for these investments in the arts. The Recovery funding provided by the NEA was spent efficiently and made an immediate impact in Philadelphia. There is no question in my mind that this was money well spent. I believe that annual funding from the NEA is essential to strengthening and transforming our communities.

Mayors’ Institute on City Design
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a program of the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Architectural Foundation. We are also excited about the NEA’s grant program, the MICD25 that will provide up to $250,000 to cities using the arts at the center of a plan to create and sustain a livable community.

Today Philadelphia is seeking to reclaim its waterfronts for the public’s use. I am proud to say that we are moving ahead with the Central Delaware River Master Planning process, which we hope will be a model for open space and parks with innovative design and public art elements. Furthermore, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission is preparing the city’s first comprehensive plan in 50 years for release in early 2011. Philadelphia 2035: The Comprehensive Plan envisions a bright, sustainable future for Philadelphia, with goals, objectives, and measurable actions related to housing, arts and culture, open space and transit-oriented development.

Philadelphia is focused on identifying the new and appropriate uses for old industrial sites throughout our City neighborhoods. A non-profit lender in our community, the Reinvestment Fund, led by Jeremy Nowak, and the University of the Pennsylvania’s Social Impact for the Arts project, have been national leaders in documenting the role the arts can play in reclaiming and stabilizing neighborhoods. On his recent visit to Philadelphia, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman visited the Crane Arts Building, a 120,000 multi-tenant arts facility in a former plumbing supplies building, and called Philadelphia “a leader” in reshaping our post-industrial communities into arts communities. Honored by this statement, we are also challenged – now we must continue our forward progress in this area. We look to our federal partner, the NEA as not just a funder, but also as a policy maker in recognizing how these and other initiatives can impact the health and vitality of cities nationwide. Through my work with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I know that other Mayors who lead cities of all shapes and sizes share my support for the NEA.

The NEA is at work in Philadelphia and in many other communities across our nation. Its programs have tremendous impact in our citizens' lives and on our local economy. The NEA is critical to the continued development of American cities as centers of arts and culture and to fostering artistic excellence for generations to come.

“An advanced civilization must not limit its efforts to science and technology alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.” This Congressional declaration is a founding purpose of the NEA. I steadfastly ask you, members of the Subcommittee, to take this statement to heart and to think about the importance of the arts and the impact that NEA funding has as a tool for transformation in every one of our nation’s communities.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify before you today.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mayor Nutter to Testify Before Congress at Arts Advocacy Day

As part of its Arts Advocacy Day activities on April 12th and 13th, 2010, Americans for the Arts has organized witnesses to give official testimony at an arts hearing on April 13th at 10:30 AM, hosted by newly appointed chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA). Witnesses at the “Arts in Service of Communities” hearing include actor Kyle MacLachlan, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Ovation CEO Charles Segars, Brig. Gen. Nolen V. Bivens, and North Dakota arts leader Terri Aldrich.

Americans for the Arts, in conjunction with the Congressional Arts Caucus and 86 national co-sponsors, celebrates Arts Advocacy Day 2010 in which more than 400 grassroots arts supporters from across the United States take to Capitol Hill to advocate for pro-arts legislation. The evening of April 12th features the Nancy Hanks Lecture at The Kennedy Center, who this year will be Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston, SC.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the arts sector of Philadelphia, to have our Mayor be selected to speak about the value of the arts to communities, to cities. Though he will speaking for - and to - the entire nation, he will of course highlight our robust cultural sector as critical to our local economy, our neighborhoods, our people. There are great examples of how federal support - from the NEA and other agencies - has made an important difference in Philadelphia.

I expect we will have a nice Philadelphia cheering section for Mayor Nutter in DC! I will post his testimony after the hearing. The press release is here.

"Discover Philadelphia" Ovation Partnership Announced

Today, April 8th, at 10:30 at City Hall we announced a new partnership between the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Ovation, and Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, to make $500,000 of donated media available to promote Philadelphia's cultural assets. More information on this program, dubbed "Discover Philadelphia" is available here.

Ovation is the nation's only arts-focused cable channel, with a reach of 40 million households nationwide. Thanks to Comcast-Xfinity, Ovation is just being added to the Philadelphia region's channel line-up. To celebrate this, to give back to Philadelphia's cultural sector and tell its story nationally, Ovation is making this gift of airtime and production services.

So what exactly is happening? We will be given airtime for an array of what are called "interstitials" - short pieces of content aired in between other programs. For these segments arts groups are being asked to submit whatever raw content, known as "B roll" they may have. All of this content will be reviewed and a selection of them chosen to be clustered into a series of different interstitials highlighting various aspects of Philadelphia's cultural assets. These  spots will be produced by Ovation as part of their gift. Here is an example of a similar spot from Ovation's work in Chicago.

In addition, we are asking any groups that have an existing public service advertisement of 30 seconds to submit this content as well. Again, a committee will review the submissions and select some PSAs that will be granted donated airtime. The number or broadcasts per spot will depend on how many spots are selected for this component of the donation. The $500,000 value of the gift is divided equally between the two programs.

Applications are due Monday May 6th. Both the interstitials and organizational PSAs are expected to begin airing in July 2010.

In addition to this donated air-time, Philadelphia's arts groups are also being encouraged to participate in Ovation's online community, creating profiles and uploading content.