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State of Young Philly has never looked better

If you want to know how young Philly's doing, let me sum it up for you: smart and good looking. From the highest reaches of government right down to our youngest up and comers, there's never been a more attractive bunch of people in charge.

The second annual State of Young Philly, convened by the all-volunteer Young Involved Philadelphia for a two-week run, was a series of six events designed to engage, connect and represent citizens. Targeting community engagement, education, sustainability and the creative economy, State of Young Philly drew close to 1,000 young professionals and representatives from over 50 organizations in the city, according to organizers. From the first packed event at World Cafe Live on Oct. 4 to the standing-room only crowd at the finale at The Gershman Y, the crowd was diverse in age and background and alike in its forward-thinking approach.

Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia Board Chair, says, "When I first moved to Philadelphia just over a decade ago, I was initially struck by the negativity of the city. But the spirit in the discussions over the course of the past few weeks has been very different than that initial perception I got when I first moved here. Rather than focusing solely on what was in need of improvement, each of the discussions was as much about how to build on already existing innovation and assets the city has to offer."

Alain Joinville, Public Affairs Coordinator for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and a Young Involved Philly board member, adds, "It was easier to get partnering organizations involved. The State of Young Philly series is the biggest and most audacious project our organization has undertaken in its 11-year history, and we did it pretty well last year, so we are seen as a credible organization in the eyes of the City's leaders and leading organizations."

Robertson-Kraft points to several initiatives that launched in the lead-up to this year's State of Young Philly: a local version of the online web portal Change By Us,a partnership with United Way to improve Philadelphia public education, entry into the Open Data Philly challenge, and social media hashtags #WhyILovePhilly and #PhillyArts.

But ultimately, the draw of State of Young Philly is the promise of doing good combined with a commitment to fun. Reports Robertson-Kraft, "Let’s just say that the after-party went into the late hours of the night. At all of our events, we strive to achieve that perfect balance of meaningful conversation and a good time."

It's a whole new take on a thousand points of light.

Source: Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

MilkBoy Recording taking over The Studio above The Electric Factory

First, MilkBoy the cafe took Center City. And now MilkBoy Recording is following suit. While the lease has not yet been signed, Jamie Lokoff reports that MilkBoy Recording has a signed letter of intent and will be moving from Ardmore to Philadelphia, taking over The Studio, Larry Gold's state of the art recording facility above the Electric Factory at 7th and Callowhill.

"It's the best studio north of Atlanta and south of New York," says Lokoff.

With the upcoming expansion, MilkBoy will breathe new life into a recording studio just blocks away from its live music venue at its new location at 11th and Chestnut. The Studio --a  20,000 square foot converted factory space with walls covered in gold and platinum records -- is legendary in the music business, having hosted luminaries like The Roots, Tori Amos, Al Green, Patti LaBelle and many other award-winning acts.

Gold, who is also a virtuoso musician and is still arranging for Jay-Z, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez, will be handing over the reins to MilkBoy, itself an established talent factory, working with Usher, Dave Matthews and the Dixie Hummingbirds. For a brief time last year, The Studio was run by Solomon Silber, who is no longer associated with the organization.

At this point, Lokoff does not have plans for MilkBoy's current multitrack digital and analog Ardmore recording studio, and until the impending move, continues with a full schedule that includes film and TV work as well as album recording.

Source: Jamie Lokoff, MilkBoy
Writer: Sue Spolan

Speak up: TEDxPhilly 2.0, TEDxSJU on the horizon

The Femininjas are coming to TEDxPhilly, along with a whole cast of speakers designed to blow audiences away with their words, ideas and inspiration. The second annual local version of the global TED talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) will be Tuesday, Nov. 8, all day, starting at 9 a.m. at the Temple Performing Arts Center on North Broad Street.

The major difference with this venue, besides the location, is that we have the room to accommodate twice as many people," says TEDxPhilly organizer Roz Duffy. "We sold out last year (at the Kimmel Center) and had to deny people tickets leading up to the event due to capacity. This year, there should be more than enough seats for anyone who wants to attend."

The theme is The City, and organizers have invited  a compelling group of speakers to define the parameters of the urban landscape. "The City is about all aspects of urban life from people making a difference in Philadelphia and cities across the country to our collective experience of city life from the soundscape of our environment to the way we work, play, eat, live and breathe in the city," says Duffy.

Jennifer Pahlka, Executive Director of Code For America, will tell her tale of a year in city government. Speaker Youngjin Yoo is Director of Temple University's Center for Design+Innovation and Open Access Philly member.

Gregory Corbin, founder of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, where the Femininjas were born, will speak about creating an urban youth writing workshop that recently won national honors at Brave New Voices 2011 and a Knight Foundation grant. DJ Rich Medina will speak on spinning around the globe; sculptor Janet Echelman describes her art which combines ancient techniques with cutting edge technology; Chris Bartlett, Executive Director of the William Way Center, hosts the event.

"We will probably get close to 20 speakers this year and I’d guess around 800 attendees, but we have room for over 1,000 attendees, so we hope we can really fill the place with passionate, creative and inspiring individuals," says Duffy, who points to one returning guest she's particularly thrilled about. "Stanford Thompson leads a very intense music education program. Stanford’s students’ performance was so moving last year that there was not a dry eye in the house."

A full list of speakers and a link to purchase tickets can be found on the TEDxPhilly website.

By the way, St. Joe's is getting into the TED act with its inaugural TEDxSJU, which takes place on Oct. 13 from 4-7 p.m. at St. Joe's Campus Commons Building and will feature social entrepreneurs from across the country, including Olivia Bouler, who at age 12 created Save The Gulf, and LynnMcConville, whose Power Up Gambia is bringing solar to the African nation. The event is free and open to the public.

Source: Roz Duffy, TEDxPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

How to Ignite hearts and minds, one slide deck at a time

The first thing you need to know is that Alex Hillman is dangerously awesome. He is the Pied Piper of the tech community. And he had a lot of competition onstage at Ignite Philly 8, which took place before a packed audience on Thursday (Sept. 22) at Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown.

Anyone who creates slide presentations needs to attend the next Ignite Philly. That would be you. Aside from 12 presentations about incredibly cool initiatives taking place in Philadelphia, the most inspiring part was the creative way presenters used Power Point. Makes a geeky girl sigh with pleasure.

The evening, hosted by Geoff DiMasi, David Clayton and Dana Vachon, began with Melissa Morris Ivone's Operation Nice. Talking about the inception of her blog, Ivone told the story of one morning commute during which she was cut off by another driver, but the day turned around when a stranger was nice to her on an elevator. That tiny act bloomed into the Operation Nice blog, which sports the tagline, "Encouraging individuals to be proactively nice." Kind of a pay it forward for the intelligentsia.

Did you know that Philadelphia has an Art Hotel? Krista Peel and Zak Starer run an artist residency located in East Kensington. Each year, the hotel accepts 10 residents free of charge. Chirstian Kunkel is bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to Philadelphia public school students with Startup Corps, which has already helped 70 young entrepreneurs in 6 schools, with the help of 150 mentors. Kunkel's dream is to offer an opportunity to start a business to every public school student in Philadelphia.

Hillman and DiMasi presented K'House, their coworking and cohousing experiment now under construction in Kensington. A last minute addition to the lineup, Hillman and DiMasi's presentation was created by drawing on bar napkins, taking iPhone pictures of the napkins, and building a brilliant slide show that had the crowd roaring. "I never know how the talks are going to turn out, but they always seem to exceed expectations," comments DiMasi, who counted 300 people in the capacity crowd.

Danielle Redden took us boating on the tidal Schuylkill; Michelle Bland invited everyone to Nerd Nite Philly; Theresa Rose, Jordan Rock and Brett Mapp explained the Philly Stake dinner concept; Mira Adornetto and Joel Fath planted the idea of Philly Seed Exchange; Tristin Hightower and Nicole Kline told the story of Philly Girl Geek Dinners; Greg Hoy made an argument for why Sansom Street should be confined to pedestrian traffic in his talk, "Less Garbage Juice, More with Love xoxo;" Gabriel Mandujano and Joel Hommes encouraged sustainable cleanliness with their business Wash Cycle Laundry, and Sarah McEneany  talked about the latest developments along the Reading Viaduct.

The majority of the night's proceeds were awarded to a former Ignite Philly Speaker, the EVX West Philly Hybrid X Team, which won $1,000 toward teaching high school students to build hybrid cars.

Source: Geoff Di Masi, Ignite Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Hella Favela: Brazil style set to paint our town

Giant koi swimming up 13th Street? Believe it. The Favela Painters are coming to Philadelphia. In mid-September, Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, better known as the team Haas&Hahn, arrive here for a major public art project that spans three Philadelphia neighborhoods, trains countless new artists and brings a bit of Brazil to the city.

Favela is the term used for the slums of Rio de Janiero, lawless places ruled by criminal syndicates. Over the past five years, Haas&Hahn have transformed the walls and streets of these mountainside neighborhoods that loom over downtown Rio. Outrageous color and imagery, visible from all parts of the city, have transformed trash strewn chaotic areas into internationally renowned public art galleries.

Now the Favela Painters are set to transform Philadelphia, and the location of their work will be in some pretty high profile places: the 13th Street corridor owned by Goldman Properties in Center City; in North Philadelphia at Lehigh and Germantown Avenues, near The Village of Arts and Humanities (where Haas&Hahn will reside during the project); and in Manayunk, on old industrial buildings facing Interstate 76.

Funding, which is budgeted at just under $500,000 for the three-part project, comes from The Knight Foundation, The U.S. Department of Commerce, Goldman Properties and The Manayunk Development Corporation.

The teams that will work on the project will be trained by the Haas&Hahn guild. "People who don't have a lot of opportunities will be able to work with international artists," says Golden, who describes the artists' philosophy as a model for passing knowledge on. "What's the test of a good project? The shifting perspectives of people who made the art and people who live with it."

This will be the first permanent U.S. project for Haas&Hahn, who also created an installation for Art Basel Miami in 2010. Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, met the Favela painters through hip hop art consultant Todd Bressi, who brought Haas&Hahn to Miami. Bressi is a lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania and also worked on the Philadelphia Airport Gateway Project.

Golden says Haas&Hahn are on MAP's dream list of artists. "We're philosophically aligned. They're colorists with a background in architecture," says Golden. Kickoff is September 27 with a welcome reception. The entire project is set to last 18 months, including training and pop-up studios throughout the city. At its conclusion, a major exhibition is planned, which will also span Philadelphia and is slated for late 2013 to early 2014.

Source: Jane Golden, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Writer: Sue Spolan

Newest Science Center tenant serves as bridge to U.S. for overseas life science companies

The American business landscape can be daunting to an outsider, but it's all in who you know. The Triana Group's address book is brimming with invaluable connections, easing the path for overseas companies who want to create a US presence.

Based in Paris with offices in New York and San Jose, Triana has just opened an office at The University City Science Center that focuses on life science companies. "They need help identifying a strategy and sources of capital," says Triana Group Co-Director Lorraine Marchand. "We give companies a turnkey solution that includes access to capital and introductions to corporate partners. We make it as easy as possible to set up shop in the US."

Marchand and co-director Pamela Yih, along with the Triana board of directors, offer a vast extended network. Their cumulative employment experience means that they can draw on excellent connections within pharmaceuticals, contract research organizations, venture capital and academia.

Because the company is based in Paris, Triana is a dedicated overseas link that runs in both directions. "Our colleagues in Paris know granting organizations that will help companies' expansion into the new market and enable feasibility. We're a bridge." Triana is currently "in various stages of engagement" with five to seven life science companies. Some are at the feasibility stage, in which Marchand and Yih help to develop a plan, look at the business model and market share, and give the startup a sense of resources and financing needed.

"As part of the feasibility process, we introduce companies to capital sources and granting agencies. We do a road show with corporate or strategic partners and thought leaders. From there, we pull together legal services to help set up a limited liability corporation," says Marchand, who adds that not all companies require top to tail assistance, and for those who just need a hand with one piece of the puzzle, Triana tailors its offerings to organizational need.

Because of its location in the Science Center (which happens to be on the same floor as the newly opened Quorum space), Triana will share existing office space and help place businesses in the complex, which is already tailor made for life science startups. Triana's mission dovetails with the SciCenter's Global Soft Landing Program.

Source: Lorraine Marchand, Triana Group
Writer: Sue Spolan

Interactive shop Iperdesign senses success with Center City move

Sensual marketing. Two words you probably haven't heard together, unless you've been speaking to Eligio Sgaramella, the president, CEO and founder of Iperdesign. The interactive agency has just moved to Philadelphia, and maintains offices in Rome, Italy.

While Iperdesign has always had a U.S. presence, first in New York and then in South Jersey, the move to 16th and Spruce is a big one and a signal that the company continues to grow. "A lot of our clients are in the Philadelphia area. There's more opportunity in terms of networking and exposure," says Sgaramella.

Taking up residence in a former ad agency office, in fact the home of the first minority owned agency in the country, Iperdesign (pronounced "EE-per-design") defines itself as a branding web and mobile agency, divided into brand communications, identity and interaction. Originally bringing about $60,000 in billing, Iperdesign has grown into a company with a half million dollars in annual gross, with seven employees in Philadelphia and the same number in the Rome office.

Iperdesign believes in sense-appeal branding, engaging all five senses in the sales experience. For example, Iperdesign filled a spa with the scent of Sorrento lemons. "As soon as you enter the spa, you smell that, and it's very nice," says Sgaramella. "People remember that experience."

The fastest growing area of Iperdesign's business continues to be mobile apps, and it's what kept the agency profitable during the past few years while other big firms were shrinking. One of Iperdesign's biggest clients is Dale Carnegie Training. Just a month after the iPhone came out, Iperdesign developed the company's first mobile app. Hard to believe now, but eight years ago, says Sgaramella, it was a risky thing to do. "They were going through a period of rejuvenating their brand, so we suggested translating their content to a digital product." Two weeks after launch, the Carnegie mobile app held the number one position in the business category, and brought more clients to the agency.

Iperdesign also counts International House Philadelphia as well as Ernst & Young as clients, among a dozen others. Sgaramella credits the distinctive European look and design of his firm's products, which are treated to "across the pond brainstorming."

Source: Eligio Sgaramella, Iperdesign
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly science program going national

A partnership between the Franklin Institute and the Free Library of Philadelphia designed to grow young scientists is going national. LEAP into Science began as an offshoot of the library's afterschool homework help program. This year, 10 sites in urban centers nationwide will adopt LEAP, which encourages science and literacy learning among children and their families.

"We received National Science Foundation funding to pilot and develop the program," says Dale McCreedy, Director of Gender and Family Learning Programs at the Franklin Institute. LEAP has used the four year, $1.1 million grant for programs in 33 library branches across the city, taking advantage of the library's vast trove of science books for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The two originating institutions, which sit across the Parkway from one another, have overlapping missions, says McCreedy, in trying to reach multiple age levels and supporting lifelong learning, combining the library's resources with the Franklin Institute's strengths in informal science education.

While the original model was set up in a library, nationally, the program may look different, according to McCreedy, with workshops and enrichment sessions held in museums and schools in addition to libraries. A recent expansion conference held in Philadelphia brought together stakeholders from across the country to consider curriculum and goals as they design and launch their own programs. The national expansion program received 30 applications for the 10 available spots in the first phase of the NSF funded initiative.

LEAP into Science now employs around 54 people in Philadelphia, with a dozen teens who serve as leadership assistants, some of whom have moved up the ranks to become associate leaders.

This is the third locally launched program out of the Franklin Institute that's gone nationwide, says McCreedy, who cites two initiatives in collaboration with the Girl Scouts that have expanded to 90 sites around the country.

Source: Dale McCreedy, Franklin Institute
Writer: Sue Spolan

University City locavores on display for Dining Days

University City's story of urban renewal, job creation and international talent is well-told. In a few short years, the 20 by 16 block, 2.5 square mile neighborhood has blossomed into a hub for culture and technology, with business and creative communities growing in tandem. One benchmark is fast growth in the food world, where five of The Food Trust's 40 area farmer's markets operate. For example, the Clark Park farmer's market has grown 30 percent since 2005 and has expanded from Friday afternoons when it began in 1998 to two days a week and year-round.

Another example can be found right now in University City Dining Days. An expected 26,000 patrons of 29 restaurants will eat the fruit of world class chefs like Garces and Flay for under $30. There's been a 20% increase in full service restaurants in the neighborhood in the past three years.

Philly Homegrown turns a sharp focus on all the awesome food on offer round these parts, and considers University City to be at the top of the locavore list, as the area provides a concentrated look at what can happen when people take farm to table very seriously. "West Philly is particularly rich in chefs and consumers who care about food," says Donna Schorr of the GPTMC.

UC menus tend toward locally grown and sourced items, and chefs may be found perusing the goods at Clark Park, where thousands flock weekly and even includes food trucks Honest Tom's and Guapos Tacos, which was recently renovated and sports bright orange furniture.

"It's a good source of revenue for small to medium family farms," says the Food Trust's Nick Uy, noting his organization charges vendors just $35 per stand.

There's an explosion of activity west of the Schuylkill, according to UC District Communications Manager Mark Christman, with tourism friendly Sustainable Saturdays and Farm to Table Trolley Tours; as well as neighborhood boosters like the Clean & Safe Program which employs 80 people who function as West Philly ambassadors, and the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, now in its second year providing employment for local high school students.

Source: Nicky Uy, Food Trust; Mark Christman, UC District; Donna Schorr, GPTMC/Philly Homegrown
Writer: Sue Spolan

Student business plans out of North Philly, Bustleton take NFTE honors

It's never too soon to start your own business. Two Philadelphia high school students have won a business plan competition hosted by the Philadelphia chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Bianca Nieves, a senior at Esperanza Academy in North Philadelphia, won for a business based on her grandmother's Hispanic spice recipe, called Grandma's Secret.

Viktor Vabishevich, a junior at George Washington High School was the runner-up for Vito Lawns, a landscaping business that's already quite successful. Based in the Somerton section of Northeast Philadelphia, Viktor reports he takes care of around 40 neighbors' lawns after school and has made enough money to purchase two cars, while saving up for college.

Philadelphia NFTE serves over 1,500 students in 20 area schools. "These kids are coming from environments where they don't have the luxury of spending time with video games," says Sylvia Watts McKinney, Executive Director of NFTE Philadelphia. "These are kids with innately good business acumen, and they're put before a group of people who encourage them to take advantage of that talent."

NFTE's mentoring program runs throughout the entire school year, bringing dozens of area business leaders to high school students. McKinney reports that over 60 volunteers and judges participate. "Not only do we go to schools and teach them, but there are also opportunities throughout the year to meet entrepreneurs at Drexel and Community College of Philadelphia, helping students to build a resume, and teaching them how to get a job. We have coaches at Wharton and Temple." By bringing students to college campuses, says McKinney, the NFTE program demystifies the academic experience for kids who may be the first in their families to go to college.

McKinney reports that this year's business plan presentations were quite sophisticated, and in many cases could go head to head in competitions with adults. Vabishevich, who received a check for $1,000, and Nieves, who was awarded $1,500, will now advance to the national competition, held this fall in New York City.

Source: Sylvia Watts McKinney, NFTE; Viktor Vabishevich, Vito Lawns
Writer: Sue Spolan

A Place to Call Home: Urban renewal in Mantua through new Mural Arts multimedia project

A new hybrid temporary and permanent public art installation has transformed an entire city block in the Mantua section of Philadelphia. A Place to Call Home, a project of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, is a multimedia presentation that culminates at 3828 Melon Street.
Over 200 people showed up for last week's dedication of A Place to Call Home, which addresses the specific issue of homeless youth.

While there are about a thousand children without a permanent address in the city, Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden says, "We don't think about these kids, hiding in plain sight. They experience tremendous problems when they're not able to feel a sense of security."

A Place to Call Home is actually divided into three parts: Pathway to The Art House is a series of small murals, executed by Shira Walinsky, adorning neighborhood walls, pointing to the 3800 block of Melon. That entire block has been transformed through a Community Mural by artists Ernel Martinez, Damon Reaves, and dozens of schoolchildren who painted house facades in a rainbow of colors. Finally, The Art House, located at 3828 Melon, is a site specific installation in which each room of a formerly abandoned house holds a different art work. In the front room, walls, table and chairs are adorned with thousands of words derived from youth stories.

Elisabeth Perez-Luna of WHYY created a sound mural for the house. "It was an eye opener for me," says Perez-Luna, who conducted 20 interviews with kids who live in what she terms a parallel world, invisible to many.

Guests are welcome to wander the premises and gaze upon the overgrown back yard from an open doorway in the kitchen. "I like the concept of each room of a house affecting the whole, each family member affecting the whole, and ultimately the whole house being affected by the outside world," says artist Shira Walinsky.

Free to the public, Art House Tours will be held on the afternoons of Friday June 24 and Saturday June 25. At the end of the exhibit, the Art House will be renovated for residential use.

Source: Jane Golden, Shira Walinsky, Mural Arts Program; Elisabeth Perez-Luna, WHYY
Writer: Sue Spolan

Move over ice cream man, Healthy Carts are coming to Philly neighborhoods

Some Philadelphia neighborhoods have no choice about the food residents can buy. Corner stores stocked with sugary and salty processed snacks, Chinese take-out and pizza shops are the only options in many low-income areas of the city. The city's brand new Healthy Carts Initiative offers a solution to food deserts as well as providing employment to vendors.

"The program came out of the Get Healthy Philly Initiative," says Healthy Cart Coordinator Rachel Hynes, who is now accepting applications from individuals and organizations. "We approved the first five applications last week." Ultimately, the goal is to set up 20 vendors in this first pilot year.

Healthy Cart operators receive free small business training, waived fees, a streamlined inspection process and free EBT machines, which allow processing of debit, credit and food stamps/SNAP cards. "We are covering the minimum monthly EBT fees through March," says Hynes.

Vendors will be allowed to sell cut fruit and vegetables, as long as the chopping occurs in an approved kitchen. The initiative is administered by the Office of Food Protection, a division of the Department of Public Health, and the same group that oversees the city's growing fleet of food trucks.

To figure out which areas get carts, says Hynes, the Healthy Carts program employs a GIS (Geographic Information Specialist) who has mapped out the areas which are most in need. It's a matter of finding a balance of where there's a need and where cart owners will be successful, according to Hynes, who used the Green Cart program in New York as a springboard but added more features to the Philly program.

Cart owners can make a living wage, says Hynes, if they are out seven days a week and establish a routine. Vendors need to come up with their own business models and are responsible for sourcing, purchasing, storing and displaying their goods, with training from the city. Healthy Carts plans to partner with local community organizations and recreation centers to promote the new program.

Source: Rachel Hynes, Healthy Carts
Writer: Sue Spolan

Sweet sound: Pew awards nearly $700K to local music groups

Money makes music sound so much sweeter. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded 10 area recipients a total of $664,500 through the 2011 Philadelphia Music Project.

This year, Pew chose a diverse roster of performers with a common theme of creating connections. "You have everything from spirituals, to Irish music, to Indian music, to spectral music, which is one of the more hermetic forms of composition," says Paula Marincola, Executive Director for The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. "These projects will reach so many different kinds of audiences. It is an expression of the strength of the Philadelphia music scene."

The Crossing, a South Philadelphia choir, will use its $70,000 grant to fund The Gulf (between you and me), for which three composers write choral works based on the poetry of French-American writer Pierre Joris, accompanied by ambient sound gathered at the Gulf of Mexico. Astral Artists, a 2009 PMP recipient, got a $70,000 award this time around for Spiritual Voyages, a project that showcases the work of African American composers Alvin Singleton, David Sanford, and Evelyn Curenton. Tracy Segal, Development Director for Astral Artists, says that getting the grant was a rigorous process that began in the fall of last year. "It's a very rewarding grant, and a lot of work to put the proposal together," says Segal, who cites new guidelines rolled out this year.

The Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra gets a Pew nod for its collaboration with the vocal group Philip Hamilton's Voices at The Painted Bride Art Center. The drum ensemble and chorus will use its $70,000 grant to create four public performances along with a residency at Philadelphia's Creative and Performing Arts High School.

The newly renovated Rodin Museum will host a performance of work from French composers Tristan Murail and Philippe Hurel, who use Rodin's sculptures as inspiration for their spectral music. The actual grantee is The Philadelphia Museum of Art, where audiences will preview the compositions during its weekly Art After 5 series.

Other recipients include Sruti, the India Music and Dance Society, The Philadelphia Ceili Group, which performs traditional Irish music, and Bobby Zankel's 16 member jazz orchestra Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, featuring the work of Muhal Richard Abrams.

Source: Paula Marincola, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; Tracy Segal, Astral Artists
Writer: Sue Spolan

New hive for all things local and literary, Apiary, launches next week

Heard of slow food? In the age of instant communication, there is a slow words movement at hand. The Philadelphia based literary magazine Apiary is set to release its second issue on June 3 with a First Friday launch party at The Painted Bride Art Center, which includes a screening of Apiary's public access show, The Apiary Mixtape.

The 150 plus page illustrated semiannual, brought to life by a $4,000 Kickstarter campaign, has quickly attracted top names in the city's literary community, including Jim Cory, Lamont Steptoe, Nina 'Lyrispect' Ball and Janet Mason, but even more impressive are Apiary's young contributors, who represent the great diversity of culture to be found in Philadelphia.

Lillian Dunn is one of the founders of Apiary and serves on the editorial team, which, she says, reflects the diversity of Apiary's content. "Two of us live in South Philly, one in North Philly, and one in West Philly." Apiary was partially inspired by a multicultural reading series run by co-editor Tamara Oakman.

"We started out of a desire to read something exciting," says recent Swarthmore College graduate Dunn, who considers Apirary a much needed central location for writing not seen elsewhere. "Literature is one way to access other people's reality. It makes your brain light up in a way that statistics don't."

The Apiary website has a comprehensive local literary calendar that will have your head spinning, listing multiple events nearly every day of the month.

Apiary's upcoming launch party at the Painted Bride promises a cross section of Philly literary scenes, a mission the magazine takes to heart, with MC J Mase III, members of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, readings from Apiary authors, plus live music from Kuf Knotz and jazz trio Peace Love Power The Unity. Issues of Apiary will be available at the event or at these local outlets: Bindlestiff Books, Penn Book Center, Brickbat Books and Wooden Shoe.

Source: Lillian Dunn, Apiary Magazine
Writer: Sue Spolan

Gallery owner plants seeds of revitalization on Norris Square

Betsy Casanas is planting seeds in North Philadelphia. Using art as a catalyst for social change, Casanas has opened A Seed On Diamond Gallery on Norris Square. This past weekend, Casanas opened the gallery to the public with a show featuring two Philadelphia artists: Spot Lights Strobe Lights Street Lights is a multimedia work by Daniel Petraitiis, and H.O.O.F., Horse Owners of Fairmount, photography from Amanda Stevenson.

Norris Square is not your typical Philly arts destination, yet if you look on a map, Casanas' gallery is in an area surrounded by urban renewal, with Kensington to the east, Temple University to the west, and Fishtown to the south. Casanas, a muralist, teacher and community gardener, also co-founded Semilla Arts Initiative. "We've been taking over areas that have been neglected and abandoned," says Casanas, who along with fellow artist Pedro Ospina creates cultural celebrations, urban clean up projects, after school programs and student run community gardens. "I've lived in North Philly all my life," says Casanas, who was born at 4th and Somerset, an area unaffectionately dubbed the Badlands, with some of the highest crime rates in the city. Casanas got her degree from Moore College of Art and was the first in her family to graduate college.

A Seed on Diamond is housed in a formerly grand home overlooking Norris Square. Casanas and her two home schooled children live upstairs. "I was able to convert the first floor into gallery space," explains Casanas. Casanas neighborhood experience forms the basis for all her work. "I was painting when I was 14 and no longer allowed outside," explains Casanas, whose paintings are on a massive scale, sometimes stretching 13 feet in height.

Casanas is planning live events at A Seed on Diamond, and along with gallery shows, is bringing a new crowd to a formerly forgotten neighborhood.

Source: Betsy Casanas, A Seed on Diamond Gallery
Writer: Sue Spolan
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