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This story is a part of the Every Voice, Every Vote series.
Mayoral candidates addressed issues facing Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector during a forum Thursday evening.
Cultural organizations within the city want the next mayor to provide additional funds for the arts and help the industry further integrate into the city’s commerce.
The forum, hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, was moderated by WHYY News arts and culture reporter Peter Crimmins, who asked candidates how they plan to expand the arts sector past Center City and provide aid to local organizations.
Former Councilmember David Oh, the sole Republican candidate, said he would create an “arts recovery fund” that would receive $40 million each year.
“The arts community, the artists themselves, would be on that board and they would make the decisions,” Oh said. “I’d like to take the politics out of arts.”
Former Councilmember Allan Domb said he would step in to aid ailing organizations, like the Philly Pops.
“I would also pick up the phone and call 50 of the largest companies in the city and beg them for $100,000 or $50,000, and I think I could raise the money,” Domb said.
When asked how to implement arts throughout the city, former Councilmember Cherelle Parker said opportunities must be provided to every part of the city — equally.
“The arts must be ingrained in every aspect of public education,” Parker said. “We have to think bigger, think bolder, and do things a tad bit differently to make sure it happens.”
“Every community, particularly in neighborhoods that often lack access to art, organization, supports, and funding, will have full access to arts funding, and that will use the power of city government.” said former Councilmember Helen Gym.
Gym also said her administration would move to create an “Artists’ Bill of Rights” to provide pathways for better pay and health care for creatives in Philadelphia.
“It also means that we’re investing in working spaces, affordable rent, commercial rent spaces, and creative incubator spaces for artists in our studios,” Gym said. “The point, though, is that the mayor should lead on that.”
Oh, who sponsored the PHL Live Center Stage music competition while a council member, said the arts could influence positive outcomes for some negatives in the city.
“There are many very unhappy people impacted by poverty and violence,” Oh said. “Arts is a way to reach them and to give them an opportunity to express themselves and to have a fullness in their life that is missing.”
The arts in Philadelphia was also addressed during another forum in early March.
Candidates Amen Brown, Jeff Brown, and Warren Bloom did not participate in the forum.
This story is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. Learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters here.
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