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The 37th Annual Arts + Business Council Awards took place at the Barnes Foundation on Wednesday, May 25. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
The 37th Annual Arts + Business Council Awards took place at the Barnes Foundation on Wednesday, May 25. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

A celebration of Philadelphia’s diverse creativity

The 2022 Arts + Business Council Awards on May 25 honored three organizations for their impact in both scenes within the region.

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Philadelphia is known for a variety of things, from its historical significance to its food.

Another important aspect of Philadelphia’s vibrancy are its arts and business scene, as well its diverse communities. 

On Wednesday, May 25, the Arts + Business Council hosted its 37th annual Arts + Business Council Awards ceremony.

At the annual event, a number of organizations are honored for their respective impacts on inspiring a brighter and more inclusive future for the City.

“As we continue to recover, rebuild, and rethink the future, The Arts + Business Council’s vision of connecting diverse partners is more relevant than ever,” said Diana Lind, executive director of The Arts + Business Council. 

The first organization honored was Orchestra 2001. The collective of virtuoso performers were honored for their Emerging Markets project, an ongoing series of informal musical events that were deliberately performed in areas in which Philadelphians shop, work and play. 

Adam Lesnick, executive director of Orchestra 2001, noted that the project was aimed at breaking down barriers.

“The formal nature of traditional concert halls is intimidating and unappealing, serving as a deterrent to attending meaningful and relevant programming,” he said. 

He added that ticket prices, language, childcare, transportation, and lack of awareness are further barriers that often make these events inaccessible for many Philadelphia communities. 

Adam Lesnick is the executive director of Orchestra 2001, and wants to break down barriers. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Adam Lesnick is the executive director of Orchestra 2001, and wants to break down barriers. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

Throughout the pandemic, Orchestra 2001 partnered with Reading Terminal Market, 9th Street, and various other flea markets and farmer’s markets all across the city to reach a larger, more robust audience.

“We are committed to breaking down those barriers,” said Lesnick. “Free or pay-as-you-wish events are important steps in transforming that commitment into impact and providing much greater equity to underserved and underrepresented audiences and communities in every corner of our city.”

Another organization that was honored at the event was Visit Philadelphia, the city’s leading tourism agency. 

They were specifically honored for their Love + Grit Storefronts Project, which aimed to help boost business owners of color by displaying art installations in empty storefront spaces. 

“When COVID-19 left so many local storefronts empty, the organization took action to keep the city’s streets vibrant,” said Courtney Goldstein, senior vice president of lifecycle marketing communications and technology strategy at Comcast, who presented the award.

The project spotlighted 12 QBIPOC artists and 24 innovative Black- and Brown-owned businesses.

As she accepted the award on behalf of Visit Philadelphia, Rachel Ferguson, chief innovation and global diversity officer, credited the value of diversity.

“I always say that because of diversity — diverse perspectives, diverse experiences, diversity of thought — that’s what leads to innovation,” she said. 

Rachel Ferguson, chief innovation and global diversity officer, accepts the award on behalf of Visit Philadelphia. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Rachel Ferguson, chief innovation and global diversity officer, accepts the award on behalf of Visit Philadelphia. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

Ferguson added that The Love + Grit Storefronts Project demonstrated what Philly does best, “and that’s turn loss into inspiration, and empty spaces into opportunity.” 

The final organization honored was the Barnes Foundation — the venue for the event. 

The Barnes Foundation was honored for the Barnes West Everyday Places Artist Partnerships Project, which highlights the intersection between art and community.

“And create[d] opportunities for residents to experience and benefit from art right where they live,” said Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. 

The Project is a collaboration with People’s Emergency CDC and neighborhood businesses that engaged residents in culture in everyday places, and celebrated creativity and community voice.

Barbara Wong, director of community engagement at the Barnes Foundation, said, “This project came alive to bring hope, joy [and] healing, through art in our everyday lives and everyday places at a time… when sometimes we feel lost or despair.”

Barbara Wong is the director of community engagement at the Barnes Foundation. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Barbara Wong is the director of community engagement at the Barnes Foundation. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

She closed her speech by sharing some quotes from some of the artists who took part in the project, noting the value that art has in the cultural fabric of our communities. 

Some quotes included: “Art has a place in the cultural fabric of our communities,” “art is a way of expressing,” and “art allows us to connect as human beings and express ourselves.”

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