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Local Arts and Artists Driving Urban Renewal in Media, PA

Media, PA Turns on the Town
Local arts and artists driving urban renewal in our region 

October 29, 2009
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
1616 Walnut Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19103

John McInerney

MEDIA, PA – 2nd Saturdays in Media are part of a powerful coalition of artists and cultural activities that are helping drive the community’s ongoing economic revitalization. The arts have helped transform its downtown into a hub for socializing, dining, and cultural activity—energizing its residents and businesses, and drawing in shoppers to its commercial corridor.

“Media has truly been a cultural leader in the greater Philadelphia region,” said Jeff Gordon, manager, corporate relations for PECO.  “This is a difficult time for the arts, but the people in this community work hard to ensure that everyone here is able to enjoy a performance or a show.  It not only energizes the town, but celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of our region.” PECO is a long-time supporter of the Cultural Alliance’s PA Partners in the Arts grants program and has supported Delaware county organizations including Celebration Theatre, Chester Children's Chorus, Delaware County Symphony, Lansdowne Arts Festival, Media Business Authority's Jazz By Night Festival, and Media Arts Council.

Of particular note is Media’s 2nd Saturdays – free monthly events where Media’s businesses around State Street stay open late to host local musicians and display the work of local artists.  An initiative of the Media Arts Council, an all-volunteer group dedicated to bring arts and cultural activities to the community, 2nd Saturdays draw up to 3,000 people to State Street and have helped revitalize downtown Media.

“2nd Saturdays and other arts events have been great for my business,” said Drew Arata, owner of State Street’s Earth and State gallery.  “Media has really supported local arts, and as a result, business is thriving.”

November’s 2nd Saturday will feature musical artist Trio Lococo.  The Window Gallery at First Keystone Bank on State Street will exhibit work by a group of local artists known as the Hometown Collective (Dorothy Flanagan, Heidi Hammel, Bette McCarron, Chris Starry, Doug Starry, Elaine White, D Bittenger, Farah Bourne, Ed Hille, Lorri Primavera and Wayne Wright).  The Pennsylvania Veterans Museum will also be open that night in honor of Veteran’s Day.  More information is available at

The Media Arts Council (M.A.C.), the force behind 2nd Saturdays, is a Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance member which works to support artists by increasing opportunities to exhibit or perform their work in the Media community. M.A.C. continues to program and promote Second Saturdays, which (often in collaboration with local nonprofits including Media Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, Community Arts Center, and Delaware County Institute of Science) features dozens of visual and performing artists each month.  

M.A.C. also curates and produces an annual two-day film festival, which will mark its third year in February 2010, and produces a series of temporary exhibitions: This Space for Rent, Media Icons photo contest, and the Window Gallery at First Keystone Bank.  M.A.C. commissioned a mosaic mural on Media’s Plum Street Mall, entitled “Handle with Care” (300 clay hands of community members), and created and maintains a local community calendar on Phillyfunguide.

“We have gone from a group of citizens who were interested in supporting the arts to a recognized community development group, receiving funding from our local government and leveraging the arts to revitalize our neighborhoods,” said Judy Fowler, a founding Board member of M.A.C.

Arts and cultural development have been key ingredients to rebuilding communities all around the Greater Philadelphia area, helping to spur economic and civic change.

“Neighborhood arts centers and public cultural events become workshops for civic engagement, serving both as a staging ground for community identity and a source of neighborhood stability and growth,” says Jeremy Nowak, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Reinvestment Fund.  “Research backs the link between cultural activity and neighborhood improvement.”

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is committed to helping community arts and cultural organizations thrive throughout the area.  The Cultural Alliance is a leadership organization of over 375 nonprofit arts and cultural institutions located primarily in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Its mission is making greater Philadelphia the foremost creative region in the world.

Cultural Alliance Regional Directors Nancy DeLucia and Jessica Eldredge provide counsel and support to local communities interested in arts-based development, working with local arts service organizations, community art centers, and civic leaders to build arts infrastructure around the region. In Media, they were instrumental in the establishment of the Media Arts Council, serving as advisors from its inception to today.  

The Media Arts Council works to actively support local artists and integrate a wide range of arts into the life of the entire community of Media, PA., create opportunities to communicate information about art happenings throughout the area, and contribute to community arts events that appeal to all members of the community

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation and one of the Greater Philadelphia region's most active corporate citizens. PECO provides leadership, volunteer and financial support to numerous arts and culture organizations, including the Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute, People’s Light and Theater Company, and the National Liberty Museum.  PECO also sponsors cultural events all over the region, including the Multicultural Series at Penn’s Landing, Family Saturdays at the Seaport, PECO Power Hour at the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Main Line Arts Center’s Children’s Art Festival.