Growing to Reflect the Neighborhood: Community Engagement in an Evolving Community
Tuesday, October 8, 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Organized by Lucas Held, Director of Communications, The Wallace Foundation.
Moderated by Bob Harlow, Consultant, Bob Harlow Research and Consulting. Presented by Joseph Gonzales, Assistant Professor and Director of Museum Communication Program, The University of the Arts; Magda Martinez, Director of Programs, Fleisher Art Memorial; and Daniel Windham, Director of Arts, The Wallace Foundation.
This session will explore how Fleisher Art Memorial, a community-based arts organization offering free and low-cost art instruction in South Philadelphia, is transforming internal programs and processes to become more inclusive of the neighborhood changing around it. In recent years, the neighborhood surrounding Fleisher has seen considerable immigration from Southern Asia and Latin America. These newly arrived residents were not engaging with Fleisher, so staff launched a multi-component community engagement strategy to draw them to activities and classes on-site. The program is grounded in research to understand community attitudes, and includes partnership building, staff training, and programming to introduce Fleisher in neighborhood settings.
Founded in 1898, the mission of Fleisher Art Memorial is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience. What began as the Graphic Sketch Club, in a borrowed space in the Jewish Union building and under the direction of founder Samuel Fleisher, is now an independent organization with school and gallery facilities. Fleisher’s robust offerings include workshops, open studios, free classes, exhibitions, and community programs in schools and neighborhoods, all of which reflect the organization’s core values—every person can engage in and benefit from artistic expression, and this engagement provides social, cultural, and economic benefits to the community as a whole.