Germantown Artists Roundtable on a mission to create a new identity

A core group of about 15 Germantown Artists Roundtable organizers and participants arrived at First Presbyterian Church in Germantown an hour before their regular monthly meeting on Thursday.

There, they squeezed around a single table and discussed the future of the Roundtable once the umbrella sponsorship of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Classic Town Germantown initiative expires in December.

Roundtable organizer Paula Paul, host Rev. Kevin Porter of First Presbyterian, Germantown United Community Development Corporation liaison Andy Trackman and local graphic designer Susan Mangan, who has been spearheading Roundtable events along with photographer Gary Reed, joined the discussion.

Also present were Germantown Community Connection Vice President Ernie Freeman and Dr. Vivian Nix-Early, co-founder and chief opperations officer of BuildaBridge International.

“I’m thrilled to see you all at this table, because we need you,” said Paul before the discussion plunged into the occasionally contentious thickets of fundraising, organizational structure and the pros and cons of seeking 501(c) 3 non-profit status.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Germantown newcomer Jeremy Beaudry, a design teacher at UArts and community organizing veteran from his days in Fishtown, urged participants to boil their queries down to one basic question: How does the Roundtable want to make its decisions?

The group agreed that before the Roundtable takes any more steps toward a new identity, a pared-down coordinating committee will develop an official mission statement and organizational objectives. They will draw upon a lively group-wide brainstorming session from late last year.

Objectives discussed included the need to “placemake” Germantown’s proposed arts corridor, connecting artists to one another, marketing Germantown’s historic and artistic treasures and supporting the financial viability of the region’s artists.

“We have to have artists stop thinking of ‘money’ as a dirty word,” insisted Mangan, touting better economic opportunities for artists.

Onto the regularly scheduled meeting

The group doubled in size as attendees of the regular Roundtable arrived to about local arts events scheduled for September.

They included a second “Photo Walk” event, this time focusing on Lower Germantown. Participants will depart from Happy Hollow Playground at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. Young people and non-professionals are encouraged to participate.

On Sept. 15, the community is invited to an outdoor slideshow featuring images from both the June 30 and Sept. 8 Germantown Photo Walks. Food trucks and live entertainment from local musicians are expected for the event which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. in the parking lot of the old Germantown Settlement Charter School, 4811 Germantown Ave. (A Sept. 22 rain date has been set, if necessary).

Lisa Hopkins, a roundtable attendee and activist with the Northwest Neighbors of Germantown group, spoke about her play reading at the Plays and Players Theater. She said it drew a full house last weekend.

Arts at the artists’ meeting

Singer Gaille Hunter then teamed with Trackman on the piano for a polished jazz performance.

Afterwards, several meeting attendees were cast in a brief reading from Hunter’s new play, “Broad and South,” a tribute to the Philadelphia jazz club scene of the 1940s.

The next Germantown Artists Roundtable will held at 7 p.m. Sept. 20, at the same location. For more information, or to submit an event to the Roundtable, e-mail gtartistrt@gmail.com.

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