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Arts and Parks Unite for Mayoral Candidates Forum at Free Library

Philadelphia--On Wednesday, April 22, GroundSwell (a program of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance) and the Philadelphia Parks Alliance will host a public mayoral candidates forum around issues relating to arts, culture, parks, recreation and other quality-of-life issues. The forum will begin at 5:45pm, and is being held in Montgomery Auditorium at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine Street - Logan Square).

Mayoral candidates Melissa Murray Bailey, Lynne Abraham, Nelson Diaz, Jim Kenney, Doug Oliver and Anthony Williams are confirmed to participate in the Arts & Parks Mayoral Forum, moderated by Steve Highsmith (Director of Community Relations and Local Programming, PHL17). This forum, free and open to the public, will serve to allow the candidates to address the role arts and parks play in affecting the environment and quality of life of city residents, and how they would envision their mayoral role in addressing these issues.

“In every neighborhood in Philadelphia, from Mantua to Center City, From South Philly to the Northeast, the arts and our parks are an intrinsic part of the city’s fabric,” said Maud Lyon, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “The next mayor needs to understand the importance of these assets not just in and of themselves, but as part of the solution to the larger issues challenging our city--from public education to workforce development to quality of life. If you don’t have a plan for the city’s cultural assets, then you don’t have a viable plan for the future of Philadelphia.”

Key issues that will be brought up during the forum include: arts education, the role of arts and parks in community revitalization efforts, continuation of the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, funding for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, protection of public parkland, and the need for investment in park programming and maintenance.

“All of the citizens of Philadelphia, no matter where they live, deserve to have access to well-maintained parks and recreation facilities and cultural assets with high-level programming that expands their horizons and inspires them to live healthy, successful, creative and fulfilling lives,” said Lauren Bornfriend, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. “Strategic investment in parks, recreation and quality-of-life cultural assets is a win-win for Philadelphia and the people who live, work and visit here.” 

The forum is free to attend, but registration is required. Attendees can find more information and reserve their free tickets at, and are encouraged to join in live-tweeting during the event using #ArtsParksForum. 

GroundSwell, Philadelphia Parks Alliance and will also partner for a Twitter Chat using hashtag #ArtsParksChat on Wednesday, April 15 (one week prior to the forum), to gather public perception on the Mayor’s role in these issues. The #ArtsParksChat will be held from 1-2pm, with community leaders and arts and parks supporters from around the region expected to participate.

For more information on the Arts & Parks Mayoral Forum and to secure a reserved seat in the Press Section at the event, please contact Alison Zeidman at or 215-805-5737.

In January 2013, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance launched a new grassroots advocacy and community engagement initiative, GroundSwell, which works to expand the cultural sector's base of engaged grassroots advocates by giving residents a chance to learn about and participate in activities that are improving communities around the region. GroundSwell's work aligns arts and culture with other quality-of-life partners (parks, trails, libraries). For more information, visit

As advocates, educators and coalition builders, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance works to underscore the value of parks and recreation within the social, economic and environmental fabric of our city and region. We do this by monitoring public policies, researching and publishing facts, trends and analyses, and leading campaigns to advance and influence sound practices that support thriving parks and recreation in Philadelphia. Together with thousands of volunteer advocates and supporters from neighborhoods across the city, the Parks Alliance fights the battles worth fighting, act as watch-dogs, and represent the needs and interests of citizens. Our independence enables us to serve as the citizens’ voice for parks and recreation.

Established in 1972, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is the region’s leading arts and cultural advocacy, research and marketing organization. Our mission is to “lead, strengthen and give voice to a diverse cultural sector that is making Philadelphia a world-class region to live, work, and play.”  Our membership includes over 400 organizations ranging from museums and dance companies to community art centers, historic sites, music ensembles and zoos. Our members, as well as the cultural community as a whole, count on the Alliance for signature research reports on the health and growth of the sector; grantmaking in partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; robust professional development and membership services; marketing and audience development through our signature consumer marketing programs, and Funsavers; and leadership in policy and community engagement through our GroundSwell advocacy initiative and STAMP teen program. For more information on the Cultural Alliance, please visit