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Art Comes Alive With "Commotion," A Groundbreaking Philadelphia Public Art Festival; $250,000 PECO-funded project connects local community with UArts-led art projects.

PHILADELPHIA -- A partnership between PECO, the University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) is taking a revolutionary approach to PRA's 53-year-old Percent for Art program. The approach has resulted in the creation of an innovative series of hands-on community art workshops focusing on visual art, sculpture, dance, drama, music and sound installations in Grays Ferry, Point Breeze, and neighborhoods south of South Street.

PRA's Percent for Art Program, the first in the country established in 1959, provides developers with the opportunity to enhance communities with original works of public art throughout the city.

The Percent for Art Program requires redevelopers who build on land acquired from and assembled by the PRA to budget at least one percent of the total building construction costs toward the commissioning of original public art, now inclusive of public art programming.

As part of a project to construct a new electric substation in the Grays Ferry section of the city, PECO provided $250,000 to support the development of the public art project to be produced in collaboration with area residents.

The funding was used to develop an undergraduate class, led by John Phillips, an intermedia artist and visiting associate professor at the University of the Arts. This new class focuses on the history and impact of art in local communities and culminated in the development of "Commotion," a six-month-long community-based public art experience.

"We wanted to bring a new approach to this project by providing both an educational opportunity for students while engaging the local community to get them involved in the experience," said Jeff Gordon, PECO manager of Corporate Relations. "We are extremely pleased with the results of our partnership with the University of the Arts and hope that it helps future participants look for opportunities to collaborate."

"Commotion" has brought together seven noted local artists working in a variety of media to collaborate with residents and area schoolchildren in a series of workshops and hands-on arts activities. The work will be shown at a festival in June at various sites within the community.

"This is an entirely new approach to public art that engages student artists in the process of conceiving and creating new work in, with, and for a community," said Sean Buffington, president of the University of the Arts, "Our students--under the guidance of an experienced senior artist--collaborated with residents of the neighborhood to devise an authentic and meaningful community arts experience."

"The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority's Percent for Art program has created works of art that inspire, engage and sometimes even define communities across the city," said Ed Covington, executive director of PRA. "This experience continues the tradition of the Percent for Art program and takes it a step further by partnering with some of the city's exciting writers, dancers and visual artists to provide local residents with hands-on art making workshops, as well as access to original works of public art."

Nearly 400 works of public art have been installed in all areas of Philadelphia since the program's inception including iconic Philadelphia pieces such as the Clothespin by Claes Oldenburg at 15th and Market Streets, Wave Forms by Dennis Oppenheim at 34th and Chestnut Streets and most recently, Urban Topiary by PrePost Studio at 3rd Street and Germantown Avenue.

About The University of the Arts

The University of the Arts ( is one of the only universities in the United States dedicated solely to educating creative individuals in the visual and performing arts and design. Its more than 2,100 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in six fields of study - Visual Arts, Design, Film, Music, Dance and Theater - on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. The institution's roots as a leader in educating creative individuals date back to 1868.

About PECO

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). PECO serves 1.6 million electric and 494,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and employs about 2,400 people in the region. PECO delivered 82.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 38.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2011. Founded in 1881, PECO is one of the Greater Philadelphia Region's most active corporate citizens, providing leadership, volunteer and financial support to numerous arts and culture, education, environmental, economic development and community programs and organizations.

About the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

The PRA was established in 1945 under Pennsylvania's Urban Renewal Act. Its purpose is to promote the public's health, safety and welfare by recycling blighted land and structures into planned and productive uses.
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Geographic Code:1U2PA
Date:Apr 17, 2012
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