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Around 300 people attended the event. Photo: Kianni Figuereo/AL DÍA News.

Recapping the latest Philadelphia Mayoral Arts Forum at Taller Puertorriqueño

Read about the candidates’ thoughts on the importance of the arts in the city.

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On Thursday, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance held a Philadelphia Mayoral Arts Forum at Taller Puertorriqueño, focusing on the candidates plans for the cultural scene in the city. 

Taller is a community-based cultural organization whose primary purpose is to preserve and promote Puerto Rican arts and culture. Located in North Philadelphia, it represents and supports all Latinx cultural expressions. 

The mayoral forum was organized by The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and had the participation of the following candidates: Allan Domb, Rebecca Rhynhart, Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, James Deleon, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, Derek Green and David Oh.

Many topics surrounding the arts scene in Philadelphia were mentioned, but most of the candidates had in common the arts as violence prevention and the necessity for increasing equality among neighborhoods in the city.  

AL DÍA’s Deputy Editor of Culture and Education Némesis Mora was among the group of journalist moderators asking questions. 

Patricia Wilson Aden — President & CEO of Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance — advocated in her initial speech that Philadelphia needs an arts mayor and the candidates proceeded to share their thoughts on the subject. 

Candidates' ideas

Former Council Member Domb said he is going to be a cheerleader for arts and culture. 

“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,” he said.

Rhynhart promised an estable revenue source for the arts — and that small local art organizations won’t compete in the same funding category with large art organizations. She said arts will be a priority in every neighborhood. 

“I was the former budget director of the city and I know that when a mayor wants to find a few million dollars to fund something because it’s a priority, it’s funded,” she said. “As mayor, I will make the arts a priority.” 

Former Councilwoman Quiñones-Sanchez highlighted the importance of redressing the disinvestment that has affected the Philadelphia neighborhoods. She said she will make sure every neighborhood has access to the arts, making all equal in order to move forward together. 

Former Municipal Court Judge Deleon wants to increase art programs in school. Students will be able to choose from acting to music. 

For former Councilwoman Gym, arts are indispensable from life. By promoting equity in Philadelphia's arts scenario, Gym said she will make sure every community — particularly the ones in neighborhoods that lack support — has access to funding. An “Artists’ Bill of Rights” that fights for better pay, healthcare and benefits is also on her plans. 

Throughout the event, she highlighted her work with young people who are coming out of the juvenile justice system who need rehabilitation, and how the arts play an important role in this process. After school art programs are among her main priorities in this field. 

When asked how to implement arts throughout the city, former Councilmember Parker also highlighted that every part of the city deserves the same opportunities. She described the arts as an unifying and anti violence tool that is just like public education: essential. 

“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.”

Green proposed an independent commission of arts, as well as a cultural fund. He wants to promote spaces for teens to engage with the arts, mainly after school. 

Former Councilman Oh said he would create a $40 million arts recovery fund — aiming to solve the issues caused by the pandemic. In order to ensure equity, Oh stated the arts leaders should be in the decision making roles.  

The forum was organized by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance in partnership with AL DÍA News, WHYY and WURD. 

 

 

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This content 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. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit www.every voice-every vote.org. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.

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