BWW News Desk Jan. 24, 2019  

Philadelphia Dance Projects (PDP) presents Old City Arts History Project Symposium – Old City Arts  1975 – 1980, a history project exploring how artists shaped a neighborhood on Saturday, February 23,  2019 at 2PM at WHYY’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons (150 North 6th Street).  

The free symposium will feature the results of research on a community of artists in Old City 1975-80,  followed by a moderated panel discussion and conversation with artists who participated in Old City  Arts. Panelists include Jeff Cain, Musician and Performance Artist Writer/Director; David Deakin,  Visual Artist; Barbara Dufty, former member of Wilma Theater, now Executive Director of Trisha  Brown Dance Co.; Terry Fox, former dance artist now PDP Director; Charles Guarino, former  member of theater group Bricolage, now Publisher for Artforum; Ishmael Houston-Jones,  choreographer/curator/educator.  

A reception will follow the discussion. Admission is free but seating is limited so registration is  required by going to or calling 215-546-2552.  

Old City in 1975 was a very different world than it is today. It was a fading manufacturing district  with 19th century buildings, many of which had been razed to make way for the mall and park areas for  the National Independence Historical Park and the development of impending highway construction  on two borders. As an urban neighborhood, it had lost its vitality and proud sense of place  and purpose. What had once been a thriving commercial and mercantile business district had been  slowly devolved into a lost landscape. The silver lining was that the vacant warehouse loft spaces and  low rents provided artists with a unique opportunity to live and work.  

The cultural history project was designed by PDP to explore the legacy and influence of artists  working in Old City Philadelphia from 1975 to 1980. The Old City Arts History Project looks at a  neighborhood in Philadelphia that was crucial to an emerging generation of artists where they created  a center for cross-disciplinary arts activities, distinct atmosphere that supported experimentation and  encouraged risk taking. The catalytic atmosphere of this era in Old City stimulated the artists to  explore new creative territory.  

“The Old City Arts History Project has been established to investigate the arts in relationship to place  and to consider how the work of the artists of the time sparked a physical, social, and cultural  transformation that engendered the reinvention of Old City- a neighborhood that continues to evolve  today,” said Terry Fox, Executive Director of Philadelphia Dance Projects. “Old City’s legacy was  forged by visual artists, dancers, musicians, performance artists, sculptors, potters, poets, writers,  photographers, filmmakers, storytellers, cartoonists, and makers/inventors. This symposium allows  attendees to learn about this unique era from those who were there and share in the conversation.”  

Philadelphia Dance Projects supports projects that encourage artists and audiences to more fully  engage in the experience and pursuit of dance as an evolving form. This discovery process grows out  of pursuing an understanding of the roots of contemporary dance in Philadelphia, which in part  evolved with independent post-modern artists in the late 20th century. Critical to understanding this  evolution is the interplay with other artists in other disciplines particularly music, theater or 

performance art and the visual arts. By exchanging this information and ideas about this history, artists  and audiences may come to appreciate the depth of work being created today, not only in terms of  style and interdisciplinary interaction, but also the social and urban nexus with which art connects.

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