Art in Service to Politics
Raising over $20,000 in three hours this past weekend, #CollectiveActionPHL hosted a silent art auction with over a thousand attendees. The event was designed to raise money for 10 social justice organizations at both the national and local levels.
Organized by the founder and editor of the photo blog, Streets Deptartment and five others in the city, the auction is one of the many social justice art shows in the city, thoughat a large scale by the sheer number of artists participating. The organizers of the auction plan to distribute the funds evenly to the following organizations that “will be on the front lines during Trump’s presidency,” according to the event organizer Conrad Benner: Planned Parenthood, Mazzoni Center, Juntos, Al Aqsa Islamic Academy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Network of Abortion Funds, International Refugee Assistance Project, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Collective Action is a direct response to the election of Donald Trump and to the increasingly dangerous, self-serving people he has brought into his administration. We (the organizers) are eager to do something. To do something to combat what will likely be right-(possibly “alt-right”)-leaning policies,” said a statement released on the Streets Dept.
Originally intended to only raise $2,500, the overwhelming response the organizers received from over 150 local artists willing to contribute work urged the creators to expand their original goal.
“We then pushed back the auction to the week of Trump’s inauguration. When we [felt] people’s discontentment at the reality of Trump’s Presidency will lead to an increased desire for protest and action. We found a much larger venue. And we raised our fundraising goal,” said Conrad Brenner.
Officially hosting 1,068 patrons, 161 contributions from individual artists, and raising a total of $23,250 to date, the event may be the first in a series of similar events that organize efforts to push back under what many fear to be a cut in support due to a Trump presidency.
The organizations chosen to be recipients of the proceeds from the event correlate directly to services the Trump administration has decided to cut. As Planned Parenthood can expect a drastic cut in federal support due to the influence of Pence and republican representatives that support him, so can the Mazzoni Center need additional help as there may be an influx of those in need of the health and social services the center offers with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and an administration with leaders who support gay conversion camps the ability of small businesses to deny service to LGBT patrons.
A list of local artists from the city who donated to the show include a wide selection of visual artists, photographers, and more: Aubrie Costello, Adam Englehart, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Ana Mañana, Amberella with Philadelphia Woodcraft Company, Vilayphonh Brendan Lowry (aka Peopledelphia) Shawn Hileman (aka Masthead Print Studio), Thomas Buildmore, Ryan Strand Greenberg, Emma Fried-Cassorla (aka Philly Love Notes), Sean Martorana and more.
The artists themselves donated pieces already created or made pieces specifically for the event to raise money for the cause. Curators and organizers of the event expressed hope for the future amidst a Trump Presidency.
“While the election of Trump was certainly a step back in almost every imaginable way, last night I hope was one of many collective steps forward,” said Brenner.