| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Development News

Neighborhood Time Exchange challenges plans for Lancaster Avenue storefront

A closing reception at Neighborhood Time Exchange

Projects underway at NTE

A Neighborhood Time Exchange event on January 9

Mapping the Neighborhood Time Exchange

A Neighborhood Time Exchange event on January 9

In March, Flying Kite took you to an innovative new part of the local creative economy. Lancaster Avenue’s Neighborhood Time Exchange (NTE) paired three different cohorts of artists with studio space, a stipend and a roster of community-driven improvement projects in nearby Belmont, Mantua, West Powelton, Mill Creek and Saunders Park. In April, we checked back in with program and its projects, which included a revamped classroom for special-needs kids, a civil rights documentary and new cultural and historical explorations of the area.

NTE is a partnership of the Mural Arts Program (MAP), the Ontario-based Broken City Lab, the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) and the City’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy.

The inaugural cycles of NTE residencies wrapped up in September, and in November Flying Kite stopped by the storefront at 4017 Lancaster Avenue -- also our former On the Ground home -- where an exhibition of participating artists' work is on display. (There’s still time to check it out before a free closing reception on Friday, December 11 from 6 - 9 p.m.)

Dave Kyu, a MAP project manager for the initiative, has plenty to say about the ways NTE has affected the future of the formerly vacant storefront.

After the program had been running for a while, he noticed something shift. When they first launched, he recognized everyone coming in the door at open studio hours: an arts crowd familiar with the project and the artists. But about halfway through, he saw new faces. Word about the project had gotten out, and curious members of the community were coming to see for themselves.

PEC owns the building and offers longterm low-income transitional housing above the street-level storefront. The influx of people into the space is opening up some new lines of thinking about the fate of the commercial space.

"They’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this storefront," says Kyu. (He’s seeing the first NTE through, but recently left MAP to pursue a long-simmering book about the communities of our national parks that will be published by Head and the Hand Press.)

For a long time, there was hope of attracting a place for residents to get dinner. There’s not too many sit-down restaurants on that stretch of Lancaster and with the right tenant, the space could become a social and economic anchor for the neighborhood.

But NTE’s success in drawing new crowds in connection with the artist residencies has organizers thinking: Could it have a life as an arts space instead? Already, the Black Quantum Futurism Collective, an NTE cohort, has scheduled a performance there for December 17, which will be a fundraiser for victims of domestic abuse.

Moving forward, Kyu says PEC would like to continue an incarnation of NTE in the area, while MAP also wants to expand. Look out for new cohorts of NTE coming to Taucony and the Southeast by Southeast project, a formerly vacant property at 8th and Snyder Streets offering a full roster of programs for refugees from Bhutan, Burma and Nepal living in South Philly.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Dave Kyu, Neighborhood Time Exchange
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts