Go Deeper

Great Expectations and The Big Canvas

Posted July 28th, 2008

Here at the Festival, we’re all painfully aware of the fact that most arts organizations in our region operate on a shoestring-like budget. Philly has a vibrant, burgeoning arts scene and everyone (thanks to Malcolm Gladwell) now agrees that the arts are vital to a great city. Yet government support for the arts in our region is negligible. How do we solve this problem? With the Big Canvas, of course. In case you haven’t heard, the Big Canvas is part of a larger project called Great Expectations, a cooperative effort of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, and the Lenfest Foundation. It is a multi-faceted initiative that has a long term goal of identifying major civic and social problems in Philadelphia and working from the ground up to solve them. This project has given Philadelphians a chance to voice their concerns as well as their goals for the city on issues ranging from crime and poverty to education and the arts. The Big Canvas is a community-based effort to encourage lawmakers to make both a financial and organizational commitment to improving support for the arts in our region.
Beginning with a series of forums where citizens are invited to share their ideas on how culture and the arts could be better supported (and better attended) in the region, the goal of the project is to collect some qualitative data that can be used to create a proposal, a strategy for supporting and increasing participation in the arts, that will be presented to city and county councils, as well as leaders of independent cultural alliances in our region. Forums are being held in all five counties; the Philadelphia forum will be held at Moore College of Art and Design this Wednesday from 6:30 – 9:30. Registration is required and attendance is limited, so if you’re interested, visit and sign up.