(May 22, 2009) - Fort Mifflin, which played a key role in denying supplies to the Redcoats in Philadelphia and allowing the escape of George Washington's Continental Army, has staved off a less glorious defeat - by money problems that threatened its future.
In the fall, Mifflin's financial woes, aggravated by the economic downturn, forced the Southwest Philadelphia historic site to lay off all four part-time staff members, reduce the pay of two full-time workers, and cut the wages of the fort's executive director in half.
But after a national funding appeal and expanded "alternate" programming that included paranormal investigations and Boy Scout overnights, Mifflin is again on firm financial footing.
(May 22, 2009) - The economy has a lot of area nonprofits thinking of at least collaborating, if not merging entirely. A gathering of area nonprofits last Monday enabled them to talk about their experience and offer reassurance to other organizations thinking of going down the same path.
The event, called Strategic Partnerships: Forging Alliances, Advancing Your Mission, was put on by the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Women’s Way, the Philadelphia Foundation and Delaware Valley Grantmakers.
The Philadelphia Foundation is involved in three major collaborations with other funders, said Beatriz Vieira, its vice president for community impact. Probably the best-known locally is Engage 2020, an effort by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance to double the number of people participating in the region’s cultural activities by 2020. More...
(May 22, 2009) - Barack Obama is taking on health care, financial regulation, torture and environmental policy. He’s also revamping the White House art collection.
The Obamas are sending ripples through the art world as they put the call out to museums, galleries and private collectors that they’d like to borrow modern art by African-American, Asian, Hispanic and female artists for the White House. In a sharp departure from the 19th-century still lifes, pastorals and portraits that dominate the White House’s public rooms, they are choosing bold, abstract art works.
The overhaul is an important event for the art market. The Obamas’ art choices could affect the market values of the works and artists they decide to display. Their choices also, inevitably, have political implications, and could serve as a savvy tool to drive the ongoing message of a more inclusive administration.
(May 21, 2009) - The battle for the Barnes is not over yet. The controversy surrounding the move of the art collection from the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion to a new exhibition space on the Ben Franklin Parkway will come before the Delaware River Port Authority today.
Six years ago the DRPA pledged a half-million dollars toward the expected 150 million dollar project to move the celebrated collection of paintings from the suburbs to downtown.
Evelyn Yaari of the Friends of the Barnes says a complete economic study has never been done. She says the DRPA should consider the impact the move will have on both the Parkway and Lower Merion.
(May 21, 2009) - The 73-year-old subway station beneath Franklin Square, last used in 1979, will be remodeled and reopened to PATCO commuter trains, Delaware River Port Authority chairman John Estey said yesterday.
Development around Franklin Square, at Sixth and Race Streets, and the rebirth of the once-seedy square have convinced authority officials that the station will have what it had lacked: passengers.
The dilapidated 71/2-acre square above the station was renovated in 2006 by nonprofit Historic Philadelphia Inc., which maintains it. A restored 1838 fountain, a carousel, and a miniature golf course draw visitors, and a restaurant - funded with part of a $2.5 million economic-development grant from the port authority - is about to be built.
(May 21, 2009) - In the world of Web-based software — think browsers, online maps, YouTube and Facebook — forgive the surprise at seeing the product of a Philadelphia nonprofit on a short list of exceptional examples that also includes cool stuff from Google and Microsoft.
That’s what The Reinvestment Fund, a neighborhood revitalization group, has managed with its wonkish PolicyMap.com. The free service, with 10,000 registered users, creates maps that display block-by-block statistics on household incomes, foreclosures, employment and the like. It’s a rich mess of details for research by students, real estate developers, government agencies and advocacy groups.
(May 21, 2009) - The prospect, however remote, that Pennsylvania might eliminate grants to arts and cultural organizations has unnerved some Jewish groups already battling the fiscal currents and struggling to stay afloat.
The Pennsylvania State Senate included in its budget proposal a plan to eliminate funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The council, part of Gov. Ed Rendell's office, provides grants to 1,500 organizations across the state, including Jewish institutions such as the Gershman Y and Theatre Ariel.
(May 20, 2009) - Even in the best of times Sony Holland had to hustle.
Living in San Francisco, she got singing gigs wherever she could find them: concerts, corporate conventions, wine country gatherings, weddings, hotels or on the city streets. Now because of the economic downturn the company bookings have dried up, along with some of her regular bar engagements. But Ms. Holland, 45, said she feels liberated, able to focus on the kind of music that she loves.
This singer's story is just one of hundreds that poured into The New York Times Web site in response to a request asking artists to share how the economy is affecting their lives and work.
(May 20, 2009) - Fairmount Park Commissioner Farah Jimenez posed the question on everyone's mind yesterday: "How do we eulogize an institution?"
But like most of her fellow commissioners who spoke one-by-one at the last meeting of the 142-year-old parkland governing body, Jiminez spent most of her speech on the future of Fairmount Park now that City Council and the mayor control its 9,200 acres.
"For those of us who believe that the demise of the commission will lead to the demise of the Fairmount Park, I ask our successors to prove us wrong," Jimenez, an attorney who only got to serve two years on the commission, said.
(May 19, 2009) - The first lady, Michelle Obama, visited New York City on Monday to promote the arts, celebrating opening night at the American Ballet Theater and the reopening of part of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mrs. Obama described the nation’s creative spirit as critical to its ideals and its identity, and said the arts needed to be nurtured even during difficult economic times.
“The arts are not just a nice thing to have,” she said, adding that the arts “define who we are as a people.”
“My husband and I believe strongly that arts education is essential for building innovative thinkers who will be our nation’s leaders of tomorrow...The president and I want to ensure that all children have access to great works of art.”