Monday, June 6, 2011

Can't get away from that Art Czar nickname!

This past Friday, our local PBS station, WHYY, profiled the work of me and the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy on its monthly arts news-magazine program, "Friday Arts". The episode also featured a segment on the wonderful Wharton Esherick Museum, The Fruit Guys (a business devoted to promoting fresh fruit as an alternative to junk food in workplaces and schools), and Orchestra 2001 (a contemporary/new music ensemble that is associated with Swarthmore College. The embedded video below only features my segment but I encourage you to click through and watch the entire episode.

Watch the full episode. See more Friday Arts.

It may seem like shameless self-promotion, but since many may have missed the episode, and since those outside of the Philadelphia market were not able to tune in, I thought it would be helpful if I included the segment in my blog. I do think it captures pretty well the work that we are trying to do here. It also highlights some of the initiatives we have tried to support. I thought it might be helpful if in my blog I explain some of the locations of the scenes.

For example, I talk about the importance of DesignPhiladelphia to our efforts to highlight Philadelphia's strong design assets. What may be less evident is that the scenes of a reception in a large very high-ceilinged space with "curtains" of hanging diaphanous shapes, is a DesignPhiladelphia site-specific installation by the artist Aurora Robson in a multi-function space called the Skybox, at 2424 Studios in Fishtown, one of the City's many great creative economy workspaces.

Similarly, there are scenes of me, along with a group of other people, walking through an ornate decayed vacant building with a grand rotunda space. This space is Germantown Town Hall and this was a site visit with our colleagues from Public Property to show the space to the folks from Hidden City as a potential site for that program. Definitely a great building that needs a new, appropriate tenant!

The scenes where I am walking around in a hard hat in a reception at what seems to be a construction site were shot at the under-construction new Barnes on the Parkway. Since the footage was shot a few months ago, the building is, of course, much further along now. There are also some shots of the press conference at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for the ground-breaking of Lenfest Plaza, the new public space that will connect PAFA's two buildings (and feature a major a major new work of public art by Claes Oldenburg).

There are also some scenes shot in our new Art Gallery at City Hall space. Apologies to those organizations not included in the segment - it was really just chance as to what was going on at the time they were shooting. I am getting a little tired of the Art Czar thing; as I have often said, "look at how it ended up for the Czar - I don't want to end up the same way". But, I suppose it is the nature of the media to grab onto these shorthand phrases. And it should go without saying - but I will say it anyway: even though the focus of this piece is on me, my work would not be possible without: 1) the support and encouragement of a truly great Mayor,  2) the efforts of a very talented and dedicated staff, and 3) an amazing arts, culture and creative community that inspires me every day! For those that are interested, here is an additional segment - a more extended interview on what the "creative economy" is and why it is important: video.whyy.org/video/1965121120/.

Let me know what you think!

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