To: Mayor Kenney and City Council members,
Lynda Garcia, policy campaign director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said
“A budget is a moral document, and where cities invest their money speaks to their values.”
We are writing to ask you to fully fund the Philadelphia Cultural Fund in your appropriation for the next annual budget. We stand with the “Defund the Police” movement in wanting public resources to be used in more constructive ways, and that is why we are advocating for the arts.
We are representative of the dance artist community, hundreds of people who live and work in your neighborhoods. We are performers, choreographers, educators, writers, administrators, presenters and dance specialists in medicine/science and technology. We understand all too well that the City is in crisis. We teach in public schools. We know the difficulty of finding affordable housing and workspaces, among other disparity issues of urban life. There is great inequity among our citizens, which you must address in approving the coming year’s budget by June 30. So we are letting you know who we are, what we contribute to the City and how we rely on the Cultural Fund.
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund impacts your District and city-wide. It awards General Operating Support grants to independent small groups and a variety of organizations, which is very rare for the philanthropic community. The Philadelphia Cultural Fund has a history of equitable funding – one of the most egalitarian among funders. Without this general operating support, used for practical expenses that result in far reaching creative work, we cannot survive. These funds can be used for paying rent and utilities on a studio, compensating performers for rehearsals and performances, paying teaching artists, developing school programs and much more – which in turn expands the grant’s reach in multiple positive ways. In addition, for many grantees, the funds legitimize and professionalize their work, leveraging the PCF grant for other larger or national funders.
The Dance community in Philadelphia is diverse and vital. We teach, we collaborate with institutions, we are writers, presenters, we perform in churches, studios, theatres, museums, on the streets, in the parks, prisons, at historic sites, community centers, senior centers, mainstages, indoors and out and online. There is a lot to see; Hip Hop, Ballet, Tap, Modern, Post Modern, Experimental, Praise Dance, Capoeira, Flamenco, Bharata Natyam, African, traditional dance from Cambodia and Mexico to name a few. There is social dance for people of any level to participate in, including Tango, Swing and Contra Dance groups. Our dance community includes aerial and circus arts artists. It includes a number of gifted therapists who provide dance and movement therapy to Philadelphians from all walks of life. Dance artists work with disabled and special needs populations. Many have expertise in Pilates, Yoga, Massage, Zumba, and a whole host of other health, wellness, and body care skills.
This moment of pandemic health crisis, social upheaval caused by systemic racism, is a moment that offers us a chance to consider change for a better future. Artists and dance artists perhaps in particular have much to contribute to creative, productive and healthy communities. The arts are not on pause due to social distancing: quite the opposite, people need it more than ever and are turning to workshops, services and content (online and off) being offered by artists free of charge to keep the invitation open to all.
If artists lose support, the negative impact exponentially expands.
Eliminating the Philadelphia Cultural Fund also creates a collapse in spaces where Black and Brown historically disinvested communities will have access to a number of critical outlets for their physical and mental health. Throughout the city, neighborhoods such as Mantua or the Bartram Village housing projects in the Kingsessing neighborhood of southwest Philadelphia, have no arts or outlets for physical activities. PCF funds groups that exist solely to provide access that fill these voids. These organizations also provide jobs to youth and seniors that are critical, not only to the ways in which the performing arts adds into the city of Philadelphia’s overall billion-dollar economy from tourism and entertainment, but they also add into the vitality of Black and Brown communities who rely on these supplementary incomes from arts activities to sustain their ways of life for multiple generations.
Without the PCF, Communities all over the city lose vitality. They lose their connection to creative outlet, the quality of life. How we define the city as a cultural hub, is diminished. The PCF is a lifeline to sustaining a vibrant future for our city.
The City’s modest investment in the Philadelphia Cultural Fund enables the artistic voice in the collaboration of rebuilding our society. You have already heard testimony from the PCF Director, Barbara Silzle, so you know all the facts and figures. You have heard from the GPCA and Data Arts who have provided you with extensive research on the economic impact of the arts (once they are up and running again). It is time now for you to be responsive and responsible to this segment of your constituency providing them with support and encouraging their participation in re-creating a livable, fair and just place for everyone in Philadelphia.
We implore you, “ to speak to your value.” Invest in the arts. The police don’t need 19 more million dollars to improve safe policing. We agree with the “Defund the Police” movement in this regard. Rather, we need, more than ever, to preserve our humanity, as a city and as a country. We need a city in which all of our artists and their audiences feel seen, safe, valued, and supported.
Fully fund the Philadelphia Cultural Fund in the next annual City of Philadelphia budget.
Thank you for your service and consideration.
Robert Bingham, Dance Department, Temple University
Megan Bridge, Choreographer/Director,
Shannon Brooks, Dance Teacher at SpArc Service
Joan Myers Brown, Exec Artistic Founding Director, Philadanco
Julianna Boylan, Dancer/Teaching Artist, Koresh Kids, Phila. Arts in Education Partners
Mady Cantor, Dance Program, Bryn Mawr College
Nichole Canuso, Nichole Canuso Dance
Silvana Cardell, Cardell Dance Theatre
Niki and Jorge Cousineau, Subcircle
Christine Cox, Artistic and Executive Director, BalletX
Danielle Currica, Dancer/Choreographer
Katy Dammers, Artistic Producer, LiveArts/Fringe
Sophie Davis, Dancer/facilitator Contact Improvisation Jam/Headlong Dance Theater
Anna Drozdowski, Curator
Tommie-Waheed Evans, Waheed Works
Megan Flynn, Artistic Director, Megan Flynn Dance Company
Meg Foley, Independent artist, The Whole Shebang co-director, Moving Parts Dance Director
Lee Fogel, The Visioning Body
Terry Fox, Director, Philadelphia Dance Projects
Derek Freeh Dancer, Contact Improvisation Facilitator
Christina Gesualdi, Mascher Space Cooperative
Miriam Giguere, Head, Dept of Performing Arts,Westphal College Media Arts & Design, Drexel University
Hellmut Fricke-Gottschild/Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Professors Emeritae, Temple University Dance Dept
Ben Grinberg, Almanac Dance Circus
Loren Groenendaal, VP Mascher Space Cooperative Board and Dance Artist and Educator
Curt Haworth, Choreographer, Professor in Dance UARTs
Merilyn Jackson, Dance/Cultural writer/critic, Philadelphia Inquirer — 22 years; now international.
Rebecca Lisak, Contact Imprrovisation
Megan Mazarick, Choreographer/Assistant Professor of Dance at Georgian Court University
Katie Moore, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
Anne-Marie Mulgrew, Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co.
Diane Sharp-Nachsin, Artistic Director of SHARP Dance Company
Hannah Opdenaker, Program Director, Christ Church Neighborhood House.
Paige Phillips, Choreographer & Administrator Mascher Space Cooperative
jumatatu m. poe
Dawn Pratson, Mascher Space Cooperative
Emily Pratt, Independent Performing Arts Consultant
Albert Quesada, Choreographer/Dancer
Gabrielle Revlock, Choreographer/Dancer
Kate Seethaler, Mascher Space Cooperative
Iquail Shaheed, DANCE IQUAIL!
Terri Shockley, Director, Community Education Center
Michelle Slavik, Choreographer/Dancer
Meredith Stapleton, Choreographer/Dancer
Katherine Kiefer Stark, Choreographer/Director The Naked Stark
Maya Simmons, Independent Dance Creative & Administration for Waheed Works
Jonathan Stein, Board Chair, Writer/Editor thINKingDANCE
Leah Stein, Leah Stein Dance Co.
Zornitsa Stoyanova, Director of BodyMeld – new dance platform in Philadelphia
Kat Sullivan, Choreographer/Dancer, Writer thINKingDANCE
Mira Treatman, Independent Producer, Managing Editor thINKingDANCE
Elba Hevia y Vaca, Artistic/Executive Director Pasion y Arte Flamenco
Katie Vickers, Choreographer/Dancer
Julia Wallace, Contact Improvisation
Lois Welk, Former Dir. DanceUP (DanceUSA Phila.),Project Coordinator for WNY Choreographers’ Initiative
Elizabeth Weinstein, Movement Educator and owner Elizabeth Weinstein Birth
Judy Williams, Performance Garage
Lauren Putty White, Putty Dance Project
Sheila Zagar, Dance Teaching Artist/ Choreographer/Dancer