Arts and Culture

Branford Marsalis Quartet to perform at Community Unity Festival at Clark Park on Saturday

August 13, 2015


Branford Marsalis Jazz Quartet (from left: Joey Calderazzo (piano), Eric Revis (bass), Branford Marsalis (saxophone), and Justin Faulkner (drums)).

Internationally acclaimed jazz musicians will be guests at the 2nd annual Community Unity Music Festival at Clark Park (43rd and Chester). Saxophone legend Branford Marsalis and his band, The Branford Marsalis Jazz Quartet, will again headline the festival, which will be held on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. This year’s festival, which promotes nonviolence and unity in the Philadelphia community, is called “A Day to Remember.” In addition to live music performances, the festival program includes inspirational speeches from city and state dignitaries, food, games and other activities for kids.

The festival is organized with the help of Justin Faulkner, the drummer of the Marsalis Quartet, who grew up in West Philadelphia. One of the main goals of the festival is to show young community members that “creativity enriches the soul” (the festival’s motto is “Put down the guns and pick up an instrument”). To help local artistic youth, the festival organizers created “The Each One Teach One” coalition, which gives scholarships to five deserving students for private music lessons with one of the festival’s partners, the Clef Club for Jazz and the Performing Arts.

For more information about the Community Unity Music Festival and people behind it, click here.

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Street Movies! at Clark and Malcolm X parks this weekend

August 7, 2015


Photo courtesy Scribe Video Center

This month, Scribe Video Center is bringing back its Street Movies! program, with free outdoor film screenings and live performances taking place across Philadelphia neighborhoods. The program features independent films from around the world that spark discussions of issues relevant to the community. Each screening is hosted by a community organization and is followed by a moderated discussion. Two screenings will be held in West Philly this weekend, both at 7:45 p.m. – at Clark Park on Friday and at Malcolm X Park on Saturday. Details are below (for more info, visit

Friday, Aug 7, 7:45 p.m.

The Bowl @ Clark Park (45th Street and Kingsessing Avenue)
Host: Jubilee School
Event Emcee: 900AM WURD’s Stephanie Renée
Opening live performance: the Jubilites of Jubilee School

The program includes the following film screenings:

Tengo Talento: Jennyselt Galata of Yoruba Andabo & Sailen (Afro Cuban Folklore)
dir. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Jennyselt is a dancer of Afro Cuban Folklore, with great prestige within Cuba and internationally and currently dances with the group Yoruba Andabo. She seeks her successor to keep the legacy of Afro-Cuban culture, dance and religion alive. Who will she choose to keep the legacy alive? (Cuba, 2014, 10:21 min, Spanish w/English Subtitles)  Continue Reading

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Mini meter murals: Call for artists to paint parking meters along 52nd Street

August 7, 2015

Local artists are invited to be a part of a new project on 52nd Street. The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) is seeking experienced artists to paint 56 parking meters on the 52nd Street commercial corridor between Arch and Walnut streets.

The designs will be created with community input and according to a coordinated branding scheme for the corridor. Beginning in September, the selected artists will work with local schools, community groups and businesses on the initial design of the parking meter art. The painting project will begin in October, and is expected to be completed by mid-November.

The project, which will help fight blight in the form of aging parking meters, is part of the ongoing 52nd Street commercial corridor revitalization efforts spearheaded by TEC-CDC. The project is funded by Philadelphia LISC.

This is a paid opportunity for artists or creative groups (up to 10 artists can be selected to participate in the project), and TEC-CDC will cover all the supply costs. Application deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10. More information about the project, application details and forms are available here. If you have questions, please contact Akeem J. Dixon at 215-895-4021 or

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“Theatre in the X” to bring Othello and all-Black cast to Malcolm X Park

August 4, 2015


Theatre in the X presents all-Black cast Othello at Malcolm X Park on Aug. 8, 15 & 22. (Photo from Theatre in the X’s Facebook page).

The Winter’s Tale production in Clark Park is over, but more outdoor Shakespeare productions are coming to West Philly this summer. “Theatre in the X“, an artists’ collective that staged No Child… at Malcolm X Park in 2013, is presenting three free performances of Othello with an all-Black cast in the park starting Saturday, Aug. 8. The collective’s core is local theater artists Carlo Campbell, who plays Othello, Walter DeShields (Cassio) and LaNeshe Miller-White (Emilia). The play is directed by well-known director Ozzie Jones.

The play in this production is set in the criminal underworld. Campbell “is like the ‘muscle’ of the Duke of Venice’s crew,” according to Jones, while love interest Desdemona (played by Nastassja Baset) is envisioned as an underboss’ daughter. “In the language, it’s not so much race,” said Campbell, comparing the dynamic of this particular production to Will Smith visiting his wealthy uncle in California on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “It’s this person who has this audacity to think that, from their station in life, they can be privy to rewards.”

Theatre in the X was created to provide free and accessible theater to the community, as well as provide local African American artists with acting and directing opportunities. The 2015 presentation is part of the City of Philadelphia’s Performances in Public Spaces program managed by the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and is supported by the Leeway Foundation’s Art and Change grants. Public donations are essential, too, so if you want to chip in, please visit this page.

Performances are on three upcoming Saturdays – Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. and on Aug. 15 & 22 at 6 p.m. 

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Neighborly love: Two West Philly authors discuss their books in person this week

August 3, 2015

Here are two chances to meet and support West Philly-based authors who will be presenting their new books this week.

badkhen walking with abelAnna Badkhen, a journalist, world traveler and writer, is inviting neighbors to the Penn Book Center (34th and Sansom) on Tuesday, Aug. 4 for the launch of her new book, Walking with Abel. Named a top summer reading pick by the Los Angeles Times, Playboy and Mental Floss, the book takes readers on a journey with a family of Fulani nomads, as they embark on their annual migration across the African savanna. Badkhen spent much of 2013 living with the nomads in the Sahel region of Mali in Western Africa (read our earlier post about Badkhen and her book here).

“[Badkhen] mak[es] Fulani culture come alive as she follows the herders’ daily efforts to cope with drought, disease, and death in an often unforgiving landscape…,” reads a review by Library Journal, and Playboy calls the book a “vivid, memorable nonfiction.”  Continue Reading

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“Glen’s Village”: Must-see doc on West Philly kid, his mom and redemption

August 3, 2015


OK, first thing … You need to carve 30 minutes out of your day and watch the mini-documentary Glen’s Village, a film about a kid who grew up around 52nd and Haverford, was dealing crack by the 9th grade and is now, thanks to the strength of his mother and himself, a student at Penn. (It’s embedded below).

The film takes you through Glen’s childhood growing up with a dad who was, as one person in the film puts it, basically a “drug kingpin.” He was later deported to Jamaica, leaving Glen’s mother to raise him alone. It wasn’t going well as he entered his teens and by ninth grade Glen was regularly skipping school and selling drugs.

But at University City High School he turns it around. As one of the school’s star students, Glen testified before the School Reform Commission as it considered closing the school. UC High’s closure is an important part of the film, as is his work at Sayre High School, where he teaches part time to fulfill his scholarship obligations.  Continue Reading

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