Performing Arts Organizations Sign Letter in Support of the Cultural Fund and the Office of Arts and Culture | Theatre Philadelphia
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Performing Arts Organizations Sign Letter in Support of the Cultural Fund and the Office of Arts and Culture

May 5, 2020

Last week, Mayor Kenney announced a revised budget, one that proposes eliminating an entire agency—the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy—in one stroke cutting $4 million dollars as well as the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which distributed over $3 million to hundreds of city arts organizations last year.

In response, Theatre Philadelphia has called on the greater theatre community to join together in signing a collective letter urging all City Council Members to oppose cuts to arts funding. The letter, authored by Paige Price of Philadelphia Theatre Company, has been signed by leaders from nearly 100 performing arts organizations in 7 districts thus far. We will be updating this document as leaders continue to sign.

Theatre Philadelphia, our cultural organizations, and our audiences will continue to advocate for the preservation of the Office of Arts and Culture, the Cultural Fund, and the city’s arts funding.

View the letter and the signatures here.

May 5th, 2020 

The Honorable Kendra Brooks
The Honorable Allan Domb
The Honorable Katherine Gilmore Richardson
The Honorable Derek S. Green
The Honorable Helen Gym
The Honorable David Oh
The Honorable Isaiah Thomas
The Honorable Mark Squilla, First District
The Honorable Kenyatta Johnson, Second District
The Honorable Jamie Gauthier, Third District
The Honorable Curtis Jones, Jr., Fourth District
The Honorable Darrell L. Clarke, Fifth District
The Honorable Bobby Henon, Sixth District
The Honorable Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez, Seventh District
The Honorable Cindy Bass, Eighth District
The Honorable Cherelle L. Parker, Ninth District
The Honorable Brian J. O’Neill, Tenth District 

Dear Honorable City Council Members: 

Last week, Mayor Kenney announced a revised budget, one that proposes eliminating an entire agency—the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy—in one stroke cutting $4 million dollars as well as the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which distributed over $3 million to hundreds of city arts organizations last year. 

The undersigned local theatres strongly urge our City Council to reject the Mayor’s proposed 100% slash to arts funding, and to continue to support the Cultural Fund and the Office of Arts and Culture. 

The financial stresses that governments face—federal, state, city—are unprecedented. And so the classification of “essential” services begins, as leaders grapple with our new reality. We understand. However, this proposal is unacceptable. 

For half a century, arts and cultural organizations have made the case that points out our significant contribution to local economies. Southeastern Pennsylvania’s cultural organizations and their audiences have a combined impact of $4.1 billion on the region’s economy, supporting 55,000 full-time equivalent jobs. The ancillary revenue that surrounding businesses rely on from our patrons (parking, restaurants, bars, public transportation) is real. 

Last week, arts organizations also heard from Karl Blischke, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, stating that the agency has essentially ceased processing grants —adding to the decades-long trend of slashing funding to the arts, which generate $224.3 million in tax revenue at the local and state levels. This, coupled with Mayor Kenney’s recent decision, will place further undue burden on the artistic fabric of the city and state. 

As citizens begin to recover from a pandemic that has rewritten all the rules of our time, a great deal of imagination and vision will be needed. While there is much to lament, there is also much to celebrate, as teams of theatre artists vaulted into service, quickly coordinating their resources online, not only to entertain, but also to provide educational programming for families homeschooling their children. Costume designers and wardrobe staff created masks and PPE for local health workers, as well as neighbors who had no access to supplies. Stagehands helped build mobile healthcare units at Temple University’s Liacouras Center. Musicians organized a three-day virtual concert​to raise money for the artists and venue workers affected by COVID-19. Imagination, creativity, and collaborative problem-solving are at the heart of the arts. 

When the crisis hit, a few local foundations and donors created a fund to support the hundreds, if not thousands of artists who also lost the hourly gig work in restaurants and offices that helped them survive. Theatre Philadelphia Emergency Relief​ raised over $240,000, but the need is greater and growing. 

Consider that artists are among the most resourceful of citizens, inherently understanding how to do more with less, sometimes next to nothing. That imagination and the collaboration that takes something from idea to execution is baked into our way of life, and is found in both administrators and artists alike. 

Artists stay in Philadelphia because it is a comparatively affordable city with a thriving cultural scene, a place where multiple universities train the next generation of actors, directors, musicians, designers, carpenters, electricians, administrators and producers. With both state and city funding vanishing in one week, however, the arts organizations who employ these artists and the hundreds of support workers are in peril. Theatres and venues will be among the last to open, making the matter even more urgent. 

It is more important than ever for Philadelphia to have strong institutions to turn to, so we urge the Mayor to reconsider this proposal, and we urge city council members to oppose this budget and preserve the Office of Arts and Culture and the Cultural Fund to their full capacity. We submit that the arts are essential to the soul of the city, and complement the important social services that lift up our entire community. 

Urgently, 

Paige Price Producing Artistic Director, Philadelphia Theatre Company Council District 2 

Katherine Clark Marketing Manager, Theatre Philadelphia Council District 1 

Kittson O’Neill Artistic Director, Shakespeare in Clark Park Council District 3 

LaNeshe Miller-White Executive Director, Theatre in the X Council District 3 

Kathryn MacMillan Producing Artistic Director, Tiny Dynamite Council District 4 

Michael Philip O’Brien Producing Artistic Director, 11th Hour Theatre Company Council District 1 

Tom Reing Artistic Director, Inis Nua Theatre Company Council District 2 

Gay Carducci, Managing Director Curio Theatre Company District 3 

Paul Kuhn, Artistic Director Curio Theatre Company District 3 

Ken Kaissar Co-Producing Director, Bristol Riverside Theatre 

Amy Kaissar Co-Producing Director, Bristol Riverside Theatre 

Terry Brennan, Artistic Director, Tribe of Fools District 2 

Allison Heishman Artistic Director, Simpatico Theatre District 1 

Jennifer Childs Producing Artistic Director, 1812 Productions Council District 1 

Nia Benjamin Co-Artistic Director, Ninth Planet District 1 

Sam Tower Co-Artistic Director, Ninth Planet District 1 

Yury Urnov Co-Artistic Director, Wilma Theater, District 1 

Damon Bonetti Co-Founding Artistic Director, The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective District 1 

Erin Read General Manager, PlayPenn District 2 

John Jarboe Founding Artistic Director, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret Council District 3 

Brandi Burgess General Manager, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret Council District 3 

James Ijames Co-Artistic Director, Wilma Theater Council District 2 

Emily Zeck Managing Director, Philadelphia Theatre Company Council District 2 Treasurer, Theatre Philadelphia Council District 1 

Paul Meshejian Artistic Director, PlayPenn Council District 2 

Sabrina Profitt Development Coordinator, PlayPenn Council District 2 

Nancy Boykin Board of Directors, PlayPenn Mauckingbird Theatre Company Council District 2 

Kevin Glaccum Producing Artistic Director, Azuka Theatre 

District 2 

Leigh Goldenberg Managing Director, Wilma Theater District 1 

Carrie Gorn Freelance Public Relations Consultant, Multiple Theatres District 3, District 8 

Scott R. Sheppard Co-Director, Lightning Rod Special District 2 

Tom Shotkin Production Manager/Company Manager, PlayPenn District 2 

Alice Yorke Co-Director, Lightning Rod Special District 2 

Alexander Burns Artistic Director, Quintessence Theatre Group District 8 

Deborah Block Producing Artistic Director, Theatre Exile District 1 

Adrienne Mackey Artistic Director, Swim Pony Performing Arts District 1 

Steve Gravelle Education Director, Theatre Exile District 1 

Seth Rozin Producing Artistic Director, InterAct Theatre Company District 2 

Jason Lindner Theatre Philadelphia, Board President Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications, Temple University School of Theater, Film & Media Arts District 5 

John Flak 

Board Member, PlayPenn New Play Development Freelance Stage Manager, Arden Theatre Company District 2 

Steve Pacek Board Member, Theatre Philadelphia Associate Artistic Director, 11th Hour Theatre Co District 1 

Denise Cavaliere Director of Individual Giving, Theatre Exile District 1 

Betsy Oliphant Board of Directors, Theatre Exile District 1 

Griffin Horn Program Associate, PlayPenn District 2 

Brenna Geffers Co-founder, Die-Cast District 1 

Michele Volansky Associate Artistic Director, PlayPenn District 2 

Gabriela Sanchez and Erlina Ortiz Co-Artistic Directors, Power Street Theatre District 7 

Grace E. Grillet Board Member, Theatre Philadelphia District 1 

Ivor Clark Board of Directors, PlayPenn Council District 5 

Dan O’Neil Casting Director, PlayPenn Council District 2 Artistic Producer, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret Council District 3 

Dan Rothenberg Co-Artistic Director, Pig Iron Council District 1 

Rachel Camp Associate Artist, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation Board of Directors, Theatre Philadelphia Council District 2 

Ben Grinberg Artistic Director, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre Council District 7 

Katharine Hanley Managing Director, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre Council District 7 

Jill Harrison Founder + Executive Director, Directors Gathering Council District 4 

Christine Herrman Executive Director, Yes! And... Collaborative Arts Council District 8 

Brooke Sexton Artistic Director, Yes! And... Collaborative Arts Council District 8 

Leonard C. Haas Theatre Philadelphia, Board Member Council District 5 

Tina Brock Producing Artistic Director, The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium Council District 1 

Annie Wilson Independent Choreographer and Performer Associated Artist, Applied Mechanics Council District 5 

Evan Kassof Music Director and Composer, ENAensemble Council District 1 

Lane Savadove Artistic Director, EgoPo Classic Theater Council District 1 

Brey Ann Barrett Artistic Producer, Theatre Exile Council District 1 

Rebecca Wright Founding Artistic Director and Company Member, Applied Mechanics Council District 3 

Ben Smallen Board Chair, Directors Gathering Council District 4 

Brett Robinson Applied Mechanics Company Member Wilma Hothouse Member Council District 1 

Carmen Khan Artistic Director, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre Council District 1 

Grayce Hoffman Director of Communications, 11th Hour Theatre Company External Relations Manager, Paper Doll Ensemble Marketing Manager, ArcheDream for Humankind Council District 3 

Patreshettarlini Adams Resident Stage Manager, The Wilma Theater District 5 

Katrina Foy Managing Director, EgoPo Classic Theater District 1 

Reuben Wade Theatre Exile, Board Member District 1 

Maura Krause Freelance Director Associate Artistic Director, Azuka Theatre District 1 

Mary Tuomanen Applied Mechanics, Company Member District 3 

Blanka Zizka Artistic Director, The Wilma Theater District 2 

Christine Freije 

Freelance Director Interim Producer, Directors Gathering District 5 

Patricia Dominguez Director, ArcheDream for Humankind Council District 3 

Nell Bang-Jensen Theatre Horizon, Artistic Director & Freelance Director District 1 

Georgina Bard Artistic Director, Beacon Theatre Productions Council District 8 

Sonya Aronowitz Executive Producer, Juniper Productions Council District 1 

David Brick Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Headlong Dance Theater Council Districts 1 and 2 

Genevieve Ransom Managing Director, Headlong Dance Theater Council District 3 

Madison Caudullo Artistic Manager, Raw Street Productions Council Districts 1 and 2 

Anne Ewers President and Chief Executive Officer, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Council District 2 

Jessica Simkins Managing Director, Inis Nua Theatre Company Council District 2 

Kyleen Goode External Relations Associate, Theatre Exile Council District 1 

Maya Choldin Managing Director, Pig Iron Theatre Company Council District 5 

Shelly Power Executive Director, Pennsylvania Ballet 

Council District 2 

Angel Corella Artistic Director, Pennsylvania Ballet Council District 2 

Joan Myers Brown Founder, PHILADANCO Council District 3 

Roberto Díaz President and CEO, Curtis Institute of Music Council District 2 

Frank Giordano President and CEO, The Philly POPS Council District 2 

Nick Stuccio President and Producing Director, FringeArts Council District 1 

Katy Dammers Artistic Producer, FringeArts Council District 1 

Zach Blackwood Artistic Producer, FringeArts Council District 1 

Kirsten Quinn Board President and Associate Producer Irish Heritage Theatre, Council District 5 

Bobbi Block Producing Artistic Director Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater Council District 1 

Stacy Dutton Executive Director Lantern Theater Company Council District 1 

Josh McIlvain Artistic Director, Automatic Arts Council District 8 

Mark Knight Board Member, Philadelphia Dramatists’ Center Council District 3 

Caitlin Cieri President, Philadelphia Dramatists’ Center Council District 3 

David B. Devan General Director and President, Opera Philadelphia Council District 2 

Terrell M. Green Drama Manager, ASAP/After School Activities Partnerships Council District 7 

Jarrod Markman Board Member, Simpatico Theatre Council District 1 

Cat Ramirez Creative Director, Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists Freelance Director and Producer Council District 2 

Kash Goins Producing Artistic Director, GoKash OnSTAGE Board Member, Theatre Philadelphia Council District 1 

Spencer Ventresca Artistic Director, Sewer Rats Productions Council District 5 

Marjorie Bicknell Philadelphia Regional Representative, Dramatists Guild of America President Emeritus, Philadelphia Dramatists Center Council District 5 

Jonathan Stein, Board Chair Mira Treatman, Managing Editor thINKingDANCE Council Districts 1 and 2 

Deborah Baer Mozes Artistic Director, Theatre Ariel Merion, PA & District 4 

Ann Garner Managing Director, InterAct Theatre Company District 2 

Leah Stein Artistic Director, Leah Stein Dance Company District 1 

Mira Treatman Administrative Manager, Leah Stein Dance Company District 1 

Sara Garonzik Former Board President, Philadelphia Cultural Fund Former Producing Artistic Director, Philadelphia Theatre Company 

Maria Shaplin Lighting Designer Co-Founder of Applied Mechanics Council District 1 

Thomas Choinacky Freelance Performance Artist Applied Mechanics Company Member Council District 3 

Kitsie Lundell Executive Director, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts Council District 8 

Shana Kennedy Executive Director, Circadium School of Contemporary Circus Council District 8 

Brett Mandell Board President, Circadium School of Contemporary Circus Council District 3 

David Gillies Founder/ Director, Give and Take Jugglers Council District 8 

Eric Geoffrey Performance Director, Airplay Entertainment Council District 8 

Kyle Driggs and Andrea Murillo 3AM Theatre Council District 8 

Jenna Kuerzi Freelance Performance Artist Council District 1 

Jean R. Haskell. Ed.D. Board Member, EgoPo Classic Theater City Council District 2 

Jacqueline Goldfinger Co-Founder, Moving Arts Consulting Board Member, Directors Gathering Board Member, Washington Square West Trust Board Member, Literary Manager and Dramaturgs of the Americas Council District 1 

Charlie Miller Art-Reach, Director of ACCESS Philly Council District 5 

Chris Davis Solo theater performer Council District 3 

Brittany Holdahl Co-Founding Administrator, Argent Combat Council District 3 

Anne Ishii ED, Asian Arts Initiative Council District 1 

Courtney Lyneé (Williams) Director of Talent Relations & Marketing, Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective Board Member, Arden Blair Enterprises, LLC Council District 5 

Sheila A. Ward Eleone Dance Theatre, Co-/Executive Director City Council District 2 

Kat Richter Artistic Director, The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble Council District 1 

Katie Budris Managing Director, The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble Council District 1 

Tenara Calem, Krista Thorp, Braxton Crewell Co-Facilitators of Lupine Performance Cooperative 

District 3 

Gregory Maughan Founder & Producing Artistic Director, Philly Improv Theater Council District 2 

Mark H. Andrews Co-Founder and Marketing Director, Azuka Theatre District 2 

Don Montrey Executive Director, CSz Philadelphia District 2 

Rebekah J. Wilcox Education Director, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre District 1 

Lee Porter Board Member, Azuka Theatre 

Heather Evans Board Member, Azuka Theatre 

Nick Jonczak Freelance Writer/Producer Council District 1 

Charmaine Warrington Philadelphia theater artist and theater usher Council District 1 

Kimberly Engel Board Member, Azuka Theater 

Patricia J. Masarachia The Stagecrafters Theater, President District 3 

Jose Aviles Teatro del Sol, Artistic Producing Director 

Charles McMahon Artistic Director, Lantern Theater Company District 1 

Polly Edelstein Co-Founder & Artistic Director, Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival District 4 

Amber Gay President, The Savoy Company District 5 

Eva Steinmetz Freelance Director Founder, The Eva Steinmetz Project District 5 

Amy Williams Board Member, The Savoy Company District 5 

Megan O'Donnell Associate Director of Operations, BalletX District 2 

Amy Kurzban General Manager of FringeArts District 1 

Terry Brennan Artistic Director, Tribe of Fools District 2 

Matias Tarnopolsky President & CEO, The Philadelphia Orchestra Council District 1 

Meg Foley The Whole Shebang, co-director District: 1