Lindsay So, Assistant Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, discussed the city’s art initiatives, from the ‘1% For Art’ mandate, to online connectors between the city and local and national artists. We started with a brief discussion of the art’s impact on the city, Ms So noted that it is a booming industry that affects not just the artists, but the travel and tourism business as well, pumping over 157 million in taxes. As the nation’s first World Heritage City, Philadelphia stands out for its public art collection of over 11,000 pieces; Ms So discussed the city’s long standing program ‘I% for art’ which requires triggering construction projects to set aside one percent of its total budget for a piece of public art. She described the process, citing the city’s own new Archives which incorporates an interactive mural depicting local sites important to racial equality and civil rights. We also discussed the Mural Arts Project, originally an anti-graffiti campaign, now an internationally recognized program that works with artists and local communities to tell the stories of people, events and neighborhoods. She spoke about ArtsLink, the city’s online resource to match artists with projects and art lovers with classes and events, and the published Guide to Philadelphia Public Art. Ms So also pointed out that culture includes ‘history’ and the office is charged with the protection and maintenance of several important sites, including Bethel Burying Ground, the city’s oldest religious affiliated burial ground for African Americans. Culture also includes other types of art and the city sponsors in-school and neighborhood performances of circus, music, dance and other selections throughout the year. Ms So invites all to visit City Hall’s standing gallery, the April ‘Jazz Month’ performances, the Arts Education Fair in August and the many other free events and activities offered by the city.
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