Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jazz Synonymous with New Orleans Identity

Art-Reach is pleased to announce this year’s theme for the annual fundraising brunch: “Dixieland Jam: A Celebration of New Orleans Jazz.”  Jazz has been a part of New Orleans just as much as Mardi Gras and Cajun cuisine since the turn of the twentieth century, and it has influenced music across the nation and the world from the time of its inception right up through the present day. 

In the beginning, it gleaned influences from the brass bands that were popular at the time and also from West African and Creole styles.  As the two modes merged, the result was a rhythmic, syncopated, improvised ragtime with cornets, clarinets, and trombones bleating out different tunes against a rhythmic section of drums, guitar, and bass.  And while we may not be lucky enough to have been among the saloon-goers of the 1920s who danced and swayed along to the hot new thing called jazz, we are lucky enough to have Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Mortonchannels on our personal Pandora and iTunes accounts to enjoy a little nostalgia.

On top of that, jazz is still alive and well and is celebrated at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Festival-goers can expect to hear new jazz and gospel artists performing their own compositions as well as already famous stars drawing on New Orleans jazz from eras gone by, as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan did at the 2006 festival following Hurricane Katrina. But whether they play old or new music, the one thing that all jazz musicians seem to have in common is that they find solace and resonance in jazz as the music that gives the city part of its identity, helps it overcome hard times, and makes good times that much better.

-By Alli Blum

  • The 18th annual Art-Reach Jazz Brunch is around the corner, kicking off at 11:30am tomorrow. Don't forget to turn your clocks back for daylight savings time in order to be on time for the festivities.
  • If this post is the only article visible, be sure to check our older posts for more information on this event and many others! Visit our archives in the right hand column or click "Older Posts".

Happy Halloween Everyone!

We are making final preparations for the brunch, and still found time to celebrate the holiday! We wish everyone a safe and sweet Halloween!

This is what happens when you feed Matt Bryan, Art-Reach Program Manager, candy corn!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Art-Reach Gives Back to NOLA through Annual Jazz Brunch!

This year’s Jazz Brunch will honor the rich history and spirit of New Orleans. To give back to a region still facing so many challenges, Art-Reach has formed a unique partnership with New Orleans non-profit, YA/YA (Young Aspirations, Young Artists). This organization, which provides cultural and entrepreneurial education for artistically-talented inner-city youths, has contributed an original painting by one of its young artists, 19-year-old Quinton Gilmore, to Art-Reach’s Jazz Brunch. This artwork (pictured left) depicts popular New Orleans musician Trombone Shorty. It is featured on the Jazz Brunch invitation and the original piece will be auctioned at the event, with proceeds benefiting YA/YA. 

YA/YA has a broad vision for its young participants, which is why their programs focus on artistic growth and business savvy. These young artists are also encouraged to give their time to various community service projects and create socially-conscious artwork. Galleries around New Orleans display and sell the students’ artwork, and the artist earns a commission on each piece sold. As they progress through the program, passing milestones, their commissions increase. It’s no wonder these young people emerge from the program as well-rounded individuals primed for personal and professional achievement. According to YA/YA, “students who join YA/YA for at least one year achieve exceptional rates of high school graduation, college enrollment, and professional success.” Many graduates of the program return as apprentices and mentors to inspire a new generation of artists.

Art-Reach is thrilled to partner with an organization whose mission aligns so closely with our own. To buy a ticket to the Jazz Brunch and have a chance to bid on the YA/YA artist painting, please visit the Art-Reach website. For more information about YA/YA, visit their website .

- by Sage Young

This is your brain...This is your brain in brunch mode --- ANY QUESTIONS?

Hi folks, we will be posting many fantastic articles over the next two days in celebration of our annual brunch. To start off the day, we bring you the inner workings of our office in brunch preparation mode. Sage Young is heading the whole shebang and doing a tremendous job. However we fear the stress may be getting to her. She's gone from 'glam' girl to fuzzy little monster --- take a look!!!!!!!

That is Sage, behind the desk, directing Rachel and Nicole in creating brunch packages.

Do you think she needs a break?

Actually, as you may have guessed, this is an auction item that will be paired with our brunch package entitled "For Your Little Monsters". It includes two tickets to Sesame Place (donated by one of our fabulous ambassadors who works at Sesame Place, Curtia Goode) and this fuzzy little friend provided by Cutesy but not Cutesy. Our staff has fallen in love with her, and will be sad to see her go, but you can have a chance to bid on this great package at the event.
          -Stephanie Borton

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Get To Know The Ambassador Of The Year

This year the 1st Annual Ambassador Appreciation event was held on September 23rd at the Arden Theatre Company’s final dress rehearsal of The History Boys. At the event, we presented the Ambassador of the Year Award to this year’s recipient, Christine White.
Christine is an Administrative Ambassador, which means that she volunteers in the Art-Reach office. “Programming” at Art-Reach is a huge undertaking and incorporates many different types of programs, including In-Facility, Livearts and Museum ticketing, and more.  Just ask Program Manager, Matthew Bryan, who has seen the programs grow firsthand. As our programs grow, we realized we needed a computerized system that could keep track of it all, so that we can best serve our members. Enter “the database”. For the past five years, Art-Reach has been developing a database that will manage our programming and streamline our ticketing system. It was created from scratch specifically to handle the work that we do here at Art-Reach. After years of development, all of the information from the past year’s events had to be entered into the database in time for our yearly audit. Thanks largely to Christine White, it happened!
Christine exemplifies what makes Art-Reach Ambassadors so special. They are committed, and always remind us through their smiles and dedication why we are involved with this organization.


Rachel Robbins (Art-Reach Program/Development Assistant): Christine, what made you want to get involved with Art-Reach in the first place?
Christine White: I wanted to volunteer for an organization that was involved with something that I enjoy and had a mission that I could support.

RR: What do you find most rewarding about being an Art-Reach Ambassador?
CW: Doing small acts of kindness means so much to others. That's a great feeling.

RR: What has been one of your favorite Art-Reach moments?
CW: I was at the Morris Arboretum for Earth Day. There was a group of school children who were giggling and screaming as they raced toward a straw structure in the garden. As they ran in and out of it, they were so excited. It was touching to see them having so much fun!

RR: How do you feel about winning the Ambassador of the Year?
CW: I was truly touched by the award. I'm very happy to be part of such a great organization and group of people. I smiled the entire next day (and still smile today)! Thank you!

Christine’s Favorites:
Book: Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Art form: Painting
Philadelphia Museum or Attraction: The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Logan Circle

Join Art-Reach on Sunday, November 1st at the 18th Annual Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction where we will honor Christine White as well as our 2009 Commitment to Cultural Access Awardees Christine Rouse (Founder & Executive Director, Acting Without Boundaries) and Arden Theatre Company.

- Rachel Robbins

Click here to learn more about the Ambassador Program and how to get involved.

Help us name the Database! Now that it will be a part of daily life here at Art-Reach, it needs a name. Have ideas? Send them to Rachel Robbins at

Friday, October 23, 2009

Time for Temptation!

8 days to go! When we say we have great items for bid, WE MEAN IT!
Do you have your tickets yet? When the auction officially begins on Sunday, November 1st in the Grand Ballroom, Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue - be ready for some bidding wars!

The Daily Show

Yes, we are auctioning off four VIP tickets to attend a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Yes, the winner requests the taping date at least three to six weeks in advance.  Of course it takes place at the Daily Show Studios in New York City.  Yes, I think it’s a great opportunity as well.  But no, I’m sorry, you can’t bid early.  See you at the brunch!
Fair Market Value: “Priceless"

Reading Terminal Market: Ice Cream Party!

For those of you with a sweet tooth, here’s an auction item you don’t want to miss.  Reading Terminal Market has donated a free ice cream sundae party at Bassett's Ice Cream.  Grab a few friends, forget about vegetables, and enjoy your choice of Bassett’s “World Famous” flavors.  Don’t worry about diets, it’s a party! And this ice cream is too good to pass up.
Fair Market Value: $35.00

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two Shared Experiences for the Price of One!

Mural Arts ASL Tour
The Nor’easter rains finally cleared and Sunday, October 18th turned into a fine, soft and gray day for the first ever Art-Reach/ Mural Arts Program (MAP) ASL tour.  A small but mighty group of about 14 tour participants got together with Art-Reach Director Michael Norris, Donna and Brian, our ASL interpreters from Hands Up Productions, and me, Maureen Zug, Mural Arts Guide and Art-Reach Board Member for a tour of Broad Street murals. Our group included both hearing and deaf participants who came from Bethlehem, Hopewell, NJ and the Philadelphia area.

We saw over 32 murals -- the day’s gray diffused light really made the paintings colors pop from the walls. As a special feature of the tour, we stopped at the “Independence Starts Here” mural located at Broad and Race Streets. MAP artist Don Gensler boarded our trolley and talked about his work with the disability community to make this mural a reality over a period of three years.  Don answered our questions about the artist’s process of painting this very large and complex work.  Of particular interest was the ASL alphabet depicted on the wall.  Don worked with students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf who modeled the individual letters.  He talked about the challenge of retaining the kinetic nature of the ASL letters on a static medium, which is the painted wall.  After our stopover with Don, our group proceeded on our tour.  Along the way, we talked about the individual murals we viewed, MAP’s community-based art program, the Broad Street neighborhoods, and buildings, a little history of the city and the importance of providing art access to all Philadelphia communities.

Louis, our trolley driver, negotiated the narrow streets in North Philadelphia to give us great views of murals just off Broad Street.  With the street traffic, weather, and other external factors, mural tours are not like a visit to a gallery or art museum! I always say that mural tours show “real-time art” in a community context.  The final phase of our tour showcased murals on the Avenue of the Arts South and the 2 “Lincoln Legacy” murals on the return to the Independence Visitors’ Center.

Our tour was a great way to celebrate Mural Arts Month and the 25th Anniversary of MAP.   The post-tour surveys were very positive and a typical response was “I would love more ASL tours…it was amazing…More, More, More Please!”  As a tour guide working with Donna and Brian, I realized the exciting possibilities of including more folks in the beauty of the art experience.

If you are interested in finding out more about accessible cultural events in Philadelphia, please visit

-Maureen Zug

Serving Reshaped My Thinking

Tonight will be my first time serving as a Host Ambassador for Art-Reach and I’m really excited! I find the opportunity to help serve the community through the arts to be uplifting and fulfilling. Over the summer I served an abbreviated internship in the Art-Reach office as an Intern Ambassador. Though not the best fit for my serving interests and capacity, the Intern Ambassador track had lasting impact and helped reshape my thinking about the accessible needs of others. This became apparent to me a few weeks ago when attending class.

I am an architecture major enrolled in the Drexel University part-time evening track program. This term I’m attending classes with a gentleman who uses a wheelchair. Our first assignment required a site visit to Mt. Pleasant – a historically commissioned mansion here in Philadelphia which is not accessible. Upon visiting the site, I thought of my classmate who uses a wheelchair and how I could help serve his need to complete the assigned task. I photo documented the site and e-mailed the photos to the professor to forward to my classmate.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m neither saint nor sinner but, I’m convinced that volunteering with Art-Reach helped reshape my thinking and encouraged greater consideration on my part for the accessible needs of others. Some have said to me “oh, poor guy; that was nice of you”. I beg to differ however. Poor us who don’t take the time to share our experiences with others who may not have the good fortune to experience them in the same capacity… thanks Art-Reach for sharing your capacity to serve with me.

For more information about serving with Art-Reach's Ambassador Program visit

-Dawn Hood

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sneak Peak to Wet Your Whistle!

With 11 days until Art-Reach's big Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction Event, we thought we would entice you will a sneak peak of some of the tremendous auction items that are lined up for bid. Each day we will post a couple items, so keep checking back and don't forget to purchase your tickets and have your game face on when the auction officially begins on Sunday, November 1st in the Grand Ballroom, Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue!


Looking for a different type of cultural experience?  Our Jazz Brunch has you covered! PNC Bank has donated the exclusive use of their suite at the Wachovia Center for a face-off between the Flyers and Florida Thrashers.  The highest bidder and 13 friends get to watch the game on Sunday, March 21, from PNC’s luxury suite.   All you have to do is get there on time.  The game starts at 7:00PM.
Fair Market Value: $2,030.00

Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
Ever dream about running away and joining circus?  Well, we’re going to help your dreams come true.  Check it out; the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts has donated an Intro to Aerial Skills Private Group Class to our jazz brunch auction.  This one-hour lesson offers a basic introduction to static trapeze, rope acrobatics and aerial skills for kids or adults.   These guys have been named to Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philadelphia” two years running, they aren’t just clowning around.  Class is held at the circus school, scheduled at the winner’s convenience. 
Fair Market Value: $150.00

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boogie on Down with the John Hoey Orchestra at the Art-Reach Brunch on Sunday, November 1, in the Grand Ballroom at the Park Hyatt!

Yo, Philly! The hottest ticket in town is Art-Reach’s 18th Annual Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction featuring the Dixieland roots of Jazz by our city’s very own incomparable Swing Band, The John Hoey Orchestra!

Where else can you indulge in yummy cocktails, enjoy Cajun-inspired culinary delights, bid on really cool stuff in a silent auction, and dance the Sunday away? Sound good? It gets better! Best of all, you will be supporting the fabulous mission of Art-Reach, and helping to expand access to the arts and culture for underserved communities. THERE’S STLL TIME TO DUST OFF THOSE DANCING SHOES AND RESERVE YOUR TICKET!

I had the pleasure of chatting briefly with John, affable founder and awesome drummer of the John Hoey Orchestra, and he shared his excitement with me about performing at the Art-Reach Jazz Brunch.

I asked him, why Dixieland Jazz as the theme of this year’s brunch? You know, what’s so special about it? John informed me that Jazz itself was born out of the New Orleans sound and old spirituals that sprang from that great city. “There would be no Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller without the music heard in the street parades and funeral marches in New Orleans,” John says. “All Big Band music was influenced by early 20th century Dixieland!”

John wants our blog readers to know that he loves Art-Reach’s mission, and especially Executive Director Michael Norris and his marvelous staff for all they do to bring the arts and culture to those who would otherwise not have access. He also hopes their gig will bring in lots of green for Art-Reach programs. “I also hope we gain new listeners for the Big Band sound. It’s rare to experience a real live Big Band, so this is a unique opportunity for people to come out and hear this great music. We also have the privilege of Joe Smith of Peter Nero and the Philly Pops joining us for this event!”

Oh, and John will be taking your requests. I already made mine, but you will have to come out to find out what it is (hint: see the second-to-last paragraph).

Call Sage Young at 215-2115 x2 to reserve your tickets NOW!

-Kathy Spillman

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sounds of Learning Program is Celebrated!

Opera Company of Philadelphia (OCP), a stellar Art-Reach arts partner, recently garnered attention from NBC for its Sounds of Learning Program™. OCP extends this program to Art-Reach members so they may enjoy opera's powerful art form and take part in the Sounds of Learning Program™ through Art-Reach, which prepares them for a tremendous experience.

OCP extends the next opportunity for Art-Reach members to participate in its Sounds of Learning Program™ In February 2010, when they present Tea:A Mirror of Soul. Those members interested in participating, should contact the Art-Reach Programming Department or email

View more news videos at:

Piano Stairs

Your daily dose of "fun" care of Volkswagen.
Art truly keeps us healthy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art-Reach thanks their volunteer ambassadors who visited neighborhoods in Philadelphia this week handing out postcards and posters to businesses, arts venues, recreation centers and senior centers who serve individuals likely to benefit from the Independence Starts Here! Cultural Calendar.  This was so successful that Art-Reach ran out of materials advertising the calendar, and will be making more to continue to spread the word to even more neighborhoods. The initiative has been featured in the Philadelphia Business Journal and Philadelphia Gay News. Take a look at the articles and contact Art-Reach if you have any questions about how the calendar can help you or people you know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Check Out the Community Education Center's Open House and Outdoor Arts Festival

Need something to do this weekend? Check out the Community Education Center's Open House and Outdoor Arts Festival this Sunday October 11th at 1pm. For more information, please visit the PhillyFunGuide.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Celebrate the Sights and Sounds of New Orleans at the 18th Annual Art-Reach Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction!

Join Art-Reach this fall for a party in the French Quarter! Staff and volunteers are quickly wrapping up the final stages of planning for this year’s big event. Dixieland Jam: A Celebration of New Orleans Jazz will be taking place Sunday, November 1st, 2009 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue in Center City, Philadelphia. At the event, 250-300 guests will be treated to a delicious, authentic Cajun brunch, traditional cocktails, the sounds of New Orleans performed by the John Hoey Orchestra, and an array of exclusive silent auction prize packages.

In addition to celebrating another year of bringing quality arts and cultural experiences to underserved audiences, Art-Reach will also be honoring the recipients of this year’s Commitment to Cultural Access Award. This award recognizes the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations that are making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities or economic disadvantages. This year’s honorees are Christine Rouse, Founder and Executive Director of Acting Without Boundaries; and The Arden Theatre Company.

The Jazz Brunch is Art-Reach’s most important fundraising event, generating over 15% of our annual operating budget. Tickets to the Jazz Brunch are $85 or $175, the latter including free parking at the Bellevue and admission to the exclusive VIP Brunch Preview in October. Corporate packages range from $1,500 to $5,000 with various benefits. For tickets and more information about the Jazz Brunch and; Silent Auction, call us at (215) 568-2115 or log on to

-Sage Young
Development Manager

Monday, October 5, 2009

Learning is Fun Especially with the Arts: Echo Singing

Happy Monday! Let's start the week off right with an educational song.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rally Against the Art -Tax

Held Friday, October 2, 2009 Arts Supporters raised their voices to keep the arts accessible to everyone.

Local actor, Ben Dibble, and his family attended. Ben spoke passionately imploring our government to veto the proposed tax as it would surely lead to downsizing actors as well as various jobs held in the non-profit cultural arts sector. Proudly proclaiming that he and his family are natives of, and want to remain in Pennsylvania, he explained how he may be forced to choose which of his 3 children gain exposure to the arts; his very own craft.
"I am an actor. It’s what I am skilled at and what I am trained to do. As a family, we accept that we will always live a simple, financially austere life. It is the pact you make with the universe when you decide to become an artist," he said. “I can no more envision cutting culture from my kids' lives than bringing them out here today without shoes on their feet. But if this tax were ever put into effect, I would have to ration it. Which membership would fall by the wayside to balance our family budget – Please Touch? The Zoo? Longwood Gardens? Which of our three kids gets to go to the ballet? Which to a youth symphony concert at the Philadelphia Orchestra? All of my children deserve each of these experiences, but how could we afford a family outing with the additional cost?
The truth is this: it will affect the livelihoods of countless Pennsylvanians. Here is how it could affect my family. It will add a cost to theatre tickets during an economic downturn. This will keep people out of theatres: older audiences, younger audiences, audiences who have lost their jobs or their nest eggs. Ticket sales will suffer. Theatres will have to eliminate staff positions. They will produce fewer shows. And – here’s where it affects my family personally – they will choose smaller shows with fewer actors and possibly pay those fewer actors less. Artist positions will, in a very real sense, be downsized. Fewer jobs for artists will make an already competitive market even more competitive and will make providing for my family even more difficult than it already is. And I, of course, am far from alone.

That’s how it will affect artists. But, I’ve got to tell you, it will affect audiences just as much. I LOVE the theatre audiences in Philadelphia, from the thousands of children I’ve met doing shows at People's Light and Theatre Company and the Arden, to the thousands of adults I’ve met at the Walnut, Wilma, and Lantern. In the last ten years I’ve seen these audiences grow and diversify. I want this to continue. Every, every family, no matter how much their parents make, should be able to go to the theatre together. No state should penalize its families by assuming that culture is created only for the wealthy. Especially when our non-profit theatres are working tirelessly to keep ticket prices low while continuing to pay artists a livable wage.

Culture is a fancy word, but its importance in our lives is not frivolous. It is essential. It brings people together. At the very least it brings people joy, and at its best it changes lives. It opens conversations. It sustains us. It is NOT a luxury."

 Barbara Gregson of Independence Art Studio, and a member of Art-Reach, spoke on behalf of the disability community in support of Art-Reach's work and the need to keep ticket prices low. She explained that without the help of organizations like Art-Reach, the people with whom she works would not be able to access the arts, and adding an additional cost to an already economically struggling population would ensure their allienation from the arts.

Arden Theatre Company and Please Touch Museum were among the arts organizations present.

Lois Welk of Dance USA Philly also raised her voice to the cause, and made sure that Art-Reach was included in the rally.

To learn more about the proposed tax and how you can take action visit The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

A Night of Partnerships: Art-Reach and Arden Theatre Company Present The History Boys

On Wednesday, September 23rd, Arden Theatre Company presented its final dress rehearsal of The History Boys, a play by Alan Bennett. Art-Reach was there to celebrate our Volunteer Ambassadors and to support the Arden as they kicked off their 22nd season. The event served as the 1st Annual Art-Reach Ambassador Appreciation Event, where attendees were invited to “Pay-What-You-Can.” All proceeds from the night benefited Art-Reach.

It was a night to celebrate partnerships, and the event raised more than $2,200. The celebration began with the Ambassador Appreciation reception, which recognized all participants of Art-Reach's Ambassador Program, included awards and amazing food donated by Max Brenner and The Corner Bakery, as well as wine from Ristorante Panorama. Art-Reach ambassadors have contributed so much to our growth as an organization and every day help us to carry out the Art-Reach mission of enriching lives by connecting underserved audiences with cultural experiences so that they may enjoy and benefit from the transformative powers of the arts. Ambassadors help us to achieve this in the office, at events, and with our members. They are a dedicated team of individuals that continually keeps Art-Reach staff sane and entertained. We were delighted to have them all in one place and to publicly say “thank you for all you do at Art-Reach”. Stephanie Borton, Associate Director of Art-Reach read quotes from Art-Reach staff about the Ambassadors:

“Our Ambassadors are constantly going above and beyond the call of duty, performing the smallest to the largest of tasks with smiles on their faces. We’re lucky to have such a wealth of talent, compassion, and determination at our fingertips.” – Sage Young, Development Manager

“Our ambassadors are incredibly helpful and add tons of joy to our office! We are so appreciative of everything ambassadors do for Art-Reach. They help to make members’ experiences as rich as possible. They’re Grrrrrrrrrreat!” – Rachel Robbins, Program/Development Assistant

“Simply put, Ambassadors make Art-Reach possible. I am grateful to work with such dedicated volunteers and words cannot accurately express the depth of my gratitude for their efforts. Ambassadors keep me sane. There is no way that I would be successful in serving Art-Reach’s mission without their tireless efforts.” – Matt Bryan, Program Manager

Ths year, we are pleased to recognize one Ambassador in particular who has contributed greatly in the past year. The Ambassador of The Year Award was given to Christine White, an administrative ambassador who has worked diligently to help us get our programming database up and running. The partnership between Art-Reach and our ambassadors is one that we are incredibly grateful for and it was a pleasure to share in a night of culture and History at the Arden.

The Arden Theatre Co. itself is a long-time Arts Partner and a leader in accessibility (as well as in the Philadelphia arts community). It is also this year’s organizational honoree of Art-Reach’s 18th Annual Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction fundraiser. Dixieland Jam: A Celebration of New Orleans Jazz will be held on November 1st at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. Two tickets to the Jazz Brunch were raffled off to a lucky audience member before the show began, and the show went off without a hitch. Overall, the night was a huge success. The Arden was full of Art-Reach supporters and we look forward to seeing all of you (and more!) at next year’s 2nd Annual Ambassador Appreciation Event.

-Rachel Robbins
 Art-Reach Program/Development Assistant