If You Support Philly Artists...

This week I attended a nice formal dinner, and while talking with an executive of a local museum, we found an exciting common interest:  Live Arts Fest & Philly Fringe!  Without a second thought or concern for our surroundings...we gave each other an instant high five across the table!...Wait, did I just high five someone at a formal event?  Yes, yes I did!  Two cool points for both of us!  High fives are acceptable everywhere!

Giving someone a high five is still among my top faves ways to show solidarity, agreement or outright support.  If only for a moment, it bonds you with the other high five giver, whether you know them or just met.

Yet, there is nothing more disappointing than to  raise your hand in high five bliss only to find yourself in the awkward just-got-left-hanging pose.  The shame that follows is insurmountable!...or am I the only one borderline devastated? Just me? Ok, I can live with that.

The point is, high fives are a cool way to show support, they should be given no matter where you are, and leaving someone hanging is never cool. 

Philadelphia emerging artists have raised their hands and accepted the challenges that come with pursuing their creative work.  I founded Small But Mighty Arts Grant to support emerging Philly-based artists through micro-grants so they can take the small creative steps needed to achieve their mightiest professional success.  Many emerging artists are only $200 - $1,000 away from significantly changing their creative lives.  Meanwhile, they are creating art that transforms communities,  helps connect us to one another and contributes positively to the City's creative landscape.   Their work needs to be seen, heard, felt, shared...and supported.

The effort begins today.  Don't leave Philadelphia's emerging artists hanging...

If you support Philly Artists...
Give Them 5!

Make a donation divisible by $5 today! 

Let the campaign begin to support Philadelphia's emerging artists !

video by Sharvon Urbannavage of SP Photography

From Hesitation to Creation...

I've probably told some form of this story many times over, but it's true, I moved to Philadelphia from Minneapolis in 2003 to specifically be a part of its arts and culture scene.  At the time I was listening to a lot of internet radio as I worked as an Assistant Hall Director, building community among staff and residents.  At the same time I was finding my poetic voice, frequenting open mics and falling in love with Philadelphia from a distance.

So when I was ready to make a change in my career, rather than stay in Minneapolis, an equally awesome creative city, I set out east to find out exactly what they were drinking in the creative water in Philadelphia!  In my first few years here I soaked it all in:  grad school, open mics, theatre, live music, art, food, house parties, new friends, new jobs and neighborhoods each with their own ebb, flow and creative tick.

In 2006 I set out to record my first album.  I had no idea what I was doing, I was just really passionate and believed in the words I had to share.  To promote the album, I watched the artists before me, whose work I admired, and mimicked them.  Email updates, tours to cities where friends and family could lend a couch, self-marketing, professionally pressed CDs, more performances, more self-promotion, networking, grinding, juggling and hoping with a lot of hope that my "break" would come.

One thing is very true of what they say about the Philly arts scene; it will toughen you up, and if you can hold your own in front of a crowd here, you're pretty cool most anywhere else.

In that time, I learned a lot.  I can't say that my "break" ever came, it was more like a lot of smaller breaks and opportunities to build other bigger creative projects.  I joined a collective of driven artists who also wanted to support the arts scene in Philadelphia.  I stretched myself from spoken word into theater and I embraced my marketing and programming skills to help other organizations and businesses.

If you met me at that time, I had a pretty constant "soap box" speech about what artists like myself and my peers needed in order to actually grow and thrive (i.e. funding, connection to resources, professional development), and I felt pretty strongly about artists being able to do so in Philadelphia.

Sometimes it comes down to timing and common business sense, and other times it is the need for basic dollars and cents.

When the Knight Foundation released their announcement of the second Knight Arts Challenge I'd like to say I jumped at the chance to apply, but I didn't.  Not at first.  My idea seemed pretty small and almost too simple: "give me money and I will give money to others" -- like yeah, sure.  But Small But Mighty Arts Grant seeks to do that and much more.

SBM  has everything to do with timing, the opportunity to support indie artists at a time in their careers when a boost through a micro-grant could make a significant difference to the advancement of their work.  The timing in Philadelphia couldn't be better.  The City's arts and culture scene is among the best and fastest growing.  SBM would be a part of a very rich collection of established organizations and grassroots efforts to bring more art to Philly and sustain up-and-coming artists.

Small But Mighty is starting with the basic need among artists for dollars and cents.

In the coming weeks and months, you'll see more updates and news about why micro-grants are so critical for artists in Philadelphia and you will have a chance, as an artist or supporter of the arts, to lend your support to our efforts.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to join a team of equally passionate folks to do something that I've always wanted to do..."insert [more] art here" in Philadelphia, one small but mighty artist at a time.

Thank you for reading...it's the first step to supporting our mission...we're looking forward to many more to come!

Erica "RhapsodE" Hawthorne