PHILADELPHIA, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- This year's Philadelphia Cultural Fund recipients have been announced and 247 Philadelphia-based arts and culture organizations will receive a combined $1.630 million in operating funds. In conjunction with the grant awards, the Cultural Fund also congratulates Blackboard Labs, the recipient of the 9th Annual Councilman David Cohen Award. Established in 2006 in tribute to the memory of the late Councilman, a lifelong advocate and supporter of Philadelphia's arts and culture community, the award is presented to arts and culture organizations that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to social and economic justice.
The award will be presented as part of the reception honoring this year's grant recipients, on Wednesday, March 6, at 11am, at City Hall's Caucus Room.
This is the 20th anniversary of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Established in 1991 to support and enhance the cultural life and vitality of the City of Philadelphia and its residents, the Cultural Fund, through the combined efforts of the Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Michael A. Nutter, promotes arts and culture as engines of social, educational and economic development and has played a key stabilizing role for numerous organizations by providing much-needed operating funding.
"This year, these awards are particularly gratifying," stated Julie Hawkins, president of the Cultural Fund board, "as they represent the 20th round of grants made to the arts and culture community since the founding of the Cultural Fund. For the past 20 years, City Council and Philadelphia's mayor have consistently provided annual funding to the Cultural Fund, from $440,000 in 1994 to a peak of $3.2 million in 2010."
Councilwoman Marian Tasco agreed, saying, "It is rewarding to see so many small and neighborhood organizations funded through the Cultural Fund's process."
"I am especially proud of the new and emerging organizations that are helped by the Cultural Fund," added June O'Neill, manager of the Fund. "The New and Emerging category represents young, newly formed groups who are finding Philadelphia a welcoming and supportive place to develop their artistic product and their programs. They add to the vitality of the city and attract new businesses and new residents."
Philadelphia Cultural Fund Grant applications are reviewed annually by a peer panel process, and grants are made from an annual City budget allocation to the Cultural Fund. Since FY1993-94, the City Council has allocated $37.360 million to the Cultural Fund, which has, in turn been able to provide $35.663 million grants to more than 300 organizations.
The Cohen Award was created to honor and perpetuate the late Councilman David Cohen's extraordinary legacy and is given annually to an arts and culture organization in the City of Philadelphia which has demonstrated by its programming, art related work product, or services offered, an outstanding commitment to social and economic justice. The award itself is an original print by noted Philadelphia artist Ron Rumford.
The Cohen Award is also chosen through a peer review process. The peer review panels are informed of the Cohen Award and its criteria, with each panel making one or two recommendations at the conclusion of their meetings. Thereafter, a committee of the Cultural Fund Board makes the award designation based upon these recommendations.
This year's recipient, Blackboard Labs, is a New and Emerging organization which initiates social change by empowering Philadelphia youth through innovative creative arts programming rooted in hip-hop culture. Educators, community members and hip-hop musicians came together to address a need for innovative, student-driven, creative arts after-school programming for teens in Philadelphia. A student-centered curriculum was developed for hip-hop writing and recording workshops that allowed students to find positive outlets for self-expression and to create safe, cooperative communities. Blackboard Labs engages Philadelphia youth in a variety of settings: at schools, through partnerships with community organizations, and through a core weekly workshop which operates out of a professional recording studio. In 2010, Blackboard Labs added a staff therapist in an effort to become a more ambitious after-school program, incorporating a holistic approach to developing and mentoring young people in response to a lack of positive peer role models within Philadelphia, and to help our youth fully process the challenges they face in their daily lives and to help them develop appropriate coping strategies.
"Blackboard Labs is thrilled to be recognized by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund for our commitment to serving youth in Philadelphia," says Jim Wells, Curriculum Director. "First and foremost, this award is a testament to our incredible students and their families: we are constantly humbled by the privilege of being a part of their lives. We also owe an immense debt to our all-volunteer staff for choosing to help nurture and mentor the future leaders of our communities. It is an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as the previous winners of the David Cohen Award, and we look forward to continuing to expand the scope of our programming and providing our students with engaging and innovative programming that stands on the cutting edge of creative arts education."
"Blackboard Labs is a place where you can truly be yourself. A safe haven. Blackboard Labs has taught me to express my feelings in a productive and creative way!" - Kyra McFadden, Blackboard Labs alumnus.
"It's important because it brings out all types of rappers and makes me feel like I belong." - Joslyn Vaughn, current Blackboard Labs student.
The reception to honor the 2013 Cultural Fund grant recipients, and the recipient of the 9th Annual Councilman David Cohen Award, will be held on Wednesday March 6, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, at the City Hall's Caucus Room.
For more information on the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the 2013 grant recipients and the Councilman David Cohen Award, please contact Michelle Piunt at 267-242-8150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Philadelphia Cultural Fund