Cindy Bass working to build consensus over Artz and Groove Festival

Eighth District Philadelphia City Councilwoman, Cindy Bass is working to resolve conflicts between the October Gallery and Mt. Airy community organizations. October Gallery will host its Artz and Groove festival in June and its 27th Annual Art Expo this October.

The events will take place in the parking lot behind the 7100 block of Germantown Avenue and inside the 7165 Lounge. Bass wants to ensure problems and resentments which arose during last year’s Art Expo do not repeat themselves this year.

“Notification of community organizations and getting their support is necessary for garnering support from my office,” Bass stated.

As the first step in that process, October Gallery founder, Mercer Redcross presented the recently rebranded Artz and Groove festival plans to East Mt. Airy Neighbors at the organization’s monthly board meeting Tuesday evening.

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Marilyn Cohen, Executive Director of West Mt. Airy Neighbors said that she will invite Redcross to WMAN’s board meeting next Tuesday and also to its annual meeting on June 12. Mt. Airy USA’s Executive Director, Anuj Gupta, confirmed that a meeting will soon be scheduled for Redcross to present plans to MAUSA and local businesses.

Bass believes “this could be a signature event for this community” and wants to see continued dialogue, asserted her Chief of Staff, Rosa Woods at EMAN’s board meeting.


Building communication

Bass said she arranged initial face to face contact between Redcross, EMAN, WMAN and MAUSA last Friday after “both sides” contacted her office regarding concerns about the festival. She stated her objective was to open lines of communication in a constructive manner and minimize disruption along Germantown Avenue.

Cohen stated that WMAN came away from the discussion “quite pleased” and felt Redcross had rectified planning problems which came up as a result of last year Art Expo.

“WMAN and MAUSA – they’re on board,” Woods told EMAN at its monthly meeting.


More Work To Be Done – Together

At the meeting, EMAN board members expressed their frustration about learning of Artz and Groove through the press rather than directly from either Redcross or landlord David Fellner. Board member Derek Green noted that communication was one of the bigger issues EMAN has with the event. “Having this conversation is good because the key is information,” Green stated.

Redcross agreed on the need for an improved strategy for communication and called last year’s Art Expo a learning process which experienced “a number of hiccups along the way.” He vowed to address parking and traffic concerns and stay in constant contact with EMAN through a festival point person.

In contrast, the upcoming Mt. Airy Day event has no designated parking. The happening is jointly hosted by EMAN and WMAN. A 2010 population estimation shows a total 35,917 Mt. Airy residents living within a 3.5 square mile area.

Fellner said he hoped Mt. Airy’s community organizations see “opportunities to partner rather than become adversarial.”

Fellner, a recent recipient of a Distinguished Leadership Award in Community Service by the Community College of Philadelphia, noted with pride that last year’s Art Expo suffered no problems with disorderly conduct or vandalism. He stated that during and after the event Germantown Avenue “was immaculate.” Fellner also mentioned that to his knowledge 75 percent of merchants did as well or better as any other day last autumn.

Redcross acknowledged that not all businesses did well during the Art Expo. “That’s what we’re trying to fix this year,” he stressed.

“Imagine what we can do if we can all get on the same page.”

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