Artists urged to get creative at Mayfair info session

Local artists at a meeting last week learned of ways to work with the city through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

About a dozen artists gathered last week at the Mayfair Black Box Theater to learn about ways to work with the city to showcase their talents.

Representatives from the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy said they are now making a greater effort to spotlight new artists in areas of Philadelphia that don’t have a plethora of cultural experiences.

“Our mission is to close the gap in access to arts for all Philadelphians,” said Dan Gasiewski, community arts coordinator for OACCE. “You will rarely see us programming or funding things that are happening in Center City or University City.”

The office oversees exhibition space at City Hall and, of most interest to those in attendance at the Feb. 24 information session, offers various grant programs to facilitate events.

Through OACCE’s “Culture in Neighborhoods” initiative, artists can be reimbursed with a grant of up to $550 to host an event at a city-owned building, such as a library, recreation center, older adult center or Community School.

“We don’t really set up events ourselves,” Gasiewski said. “We are primarily just a funder.” 

Right now, OACCE is accepting proposals for events taking place from July to December. The deadline for applications is March 13.

Gasiewski said the process is “very, very competitive,” with an average of more than 100 applications for 15 to 20 slots. He encouraged artists to attach work samples to their proposals.

Another program, called “Creative Avenues,” offers grants ranging from $250 to $1,000 to community-based organizations for events that are free and open to the public. Individual artists can apply, as long as they have neighborhood support, Gasiewski said.

The deadline for that grant is April 10.

Similar OACCE info sessions have recently been held in Fishtown, Callowhill, South Philadelphia and Kingsessing as part of the office’s outreach efforts.

“We want to make sure that something’s happening in all of the different neighborhoods all the time,” Gasiewski told the Times

In April, OACCE will be hosting three “Neighborhood Jazz Days” in Northeast Philadelphia in recognition of Jazz Appreciation Month.

Free concerts will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Northeast Older Adult Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave.; from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 13, at the Tacony Library, 6742 Torresdale Ave.; and from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at Lawncrest Recreation Center, 6000 Rising Sun Ave.

For more information about OACCE and its programs, visit creativephil.org. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.