Creativity and the Arts - Bringing Urban Spaces to Life

Publication Date: December 19, 2012

Bridge View Thumb.jpgBy Olive Mosier, Program Director

We believe there is incalculable value in the role that art and artists play in making Philadelphia a vibrant city. And we believe that Philadelphia is further benefited by great public spaces where people can congregate, socialize, and recreate.

If ever a grant was emblematic of the Foundation’s Creative Communities grant center, it is this grant to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe, allowing it to complete renovations to its new facility. At its core, the Creative Communities grant center will work to strengthen high-quality public amenities and cultural offerings that are essential elements for cities in attracting and keeping residents and businesses as well as being inviting places to visit. The Urban Institute has noted that “a healthy place to live includes opportunities for and the presence of arts, culture, and creative expression, and that arts culture and creative expression are important determinants of how communities fare.”

The new facility being renovated by the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe does it all – it will be the home to the city’s multi-discipline contemporary arts scene and a gathering place for artists and audiences. The building’s location anchors Race Street Pier, a burgeoning public space that attracts residents and tourists alike along the Delaware River at Race Street. And, once it is operational, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival’s contemporary arts center will feature year-round arts programming and social spaces that will propel the vibrancy of the neighborhood started by Race Street Pier.

 Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMCAs noted by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Race Street Pier is the first part of a master plan for the Central Delaware Riverfront, designed to create a strong physical experience that reconnects the city to river, activates the water’s edge, and establishes the pier as a distinctive new public park for the people of Philadelphia. Located at the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the design is split into two levels – an upper level with a grand sky promenade and a lower level for recreation and social gathering. The two levels are linked by a seating terrace that wraps around the end of the pier. At night, 200 solar LED lights embedded in the paving enhance the setting under the bridge.

In July 2011, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival purchased from the city of Philadelphia a former fire hydrant pumping station built in 1902, located directly across from Race Street Pier. At 10,000 square feet, once fully renovated, the historic building will become a new amenity for the neighborhood. The facility will house all of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival’s administrative operations, a 225-seat black box theatre, a rehearsal studio, a restaurant and bar, and an outdoor plaza for performances and audience interaction. Ongoing artist residencies, salons focused on the development of new work, visiting artist presentations, and other programming will make the site a hub of creativity. The new venue will provide a showcase for year-round contemporary arts events, allowing more artists to be presented, more new work to be created, and more audiences to be engaged and to do so in a building that has created its own welcoming and energetic environment and is adjacent to a lively, animated public space.

In combination, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Race Street Pier will epitomize a creative community and jumpstart even more creative enterprise in the neighborhood – a creative community.  

Presentation courtesy of Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and the Philly Fringe