Penn's Project for Civic Engagement Paints Perspectives About Regional Arts and Culture onto "The Big Canvas"

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto-Haines | | 215-898-4820September 10, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — The second phase of “The Big Canvas,” a series of public forums about arts and culture, will be launched on Sept. 20. The Big Canvas, an activity of the University of Pennsylvania’s Project for Civic Engagement, features seven public forums around the region throughout September and October.

The first forum will be Sat., Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pennsbury Manor, 400 Pennsbury Memorial Rd., Morrisville, Pa.

More than 300 people attended the first-phase forums of ”The Big Canvas”, which produced a wealth of ideas on how the region’s arts and culture assets could be made stronger.

“In these forums, citizens talked about the strengths of arts and culture in the region, how it’s part of why they love living in Philadelphia and how it enriches their lives,” Harris Sokoloff, faculty director for the Project, which is housed at Penn’s Graduate School of Education. “But they also saw that these institutions –- from the large museums to the neighborhood arts centers - are all in need of more support.”

In the second phase starting this month, attendees will discuss and vote on four proposed regional arts and culture strategies based on the information gathered from the first phase. This will give program organizers a clear picture of which ideas have popular appeal.

“The goal of these forums is for citizens to identify what they would support in a regional fund and then build momentum to turn that into policy and ultimately into reality,” Sokoloff said.

This information will be compiled into a report to be presented to regional civic and political leaders in a concluding public meeting, “The Big Canvas” Confab, on Dec. 6.

A schedule is available at
Registration for “The Big Canvas” can be accomplished at or by calling 215-854-5956.

Great Expectations, of which “The Big Canvas” is a part, is a regional civic-dialogue project supported by major grants from the Lenfest and William Penn foundations with additional support from Penn and The Philadelphia Inquirer.