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#ThisPlaceMatters: Painted Bride Art Center

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All That Philly Jazz Director Faye Anderson's public comments in support of the nomination of the Painted Bride Art Center for listing in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

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#ThisPlaceMatters: Painted Bride Art Center

  1. 1. My name is Faye Anderson. I am a citizen preservationist who is currently involved in efforts to save the Robert Purvis House in Fairmount and Abolition Hall in Plymouth Meeting. I am founder and director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project that is documenting and mapping Philadelphia’s jazz venues and landmarks. From South Street to Vine Street, the Painted Bride Art Center is part of Philadelphia’s jazz history. The Vine Street location is one of the few extant buildings associated with Philadelphia’s golden age of jazz. Under the headline “The Bride is a Jewel!,” Suzanne Cloud, cofounder of Jazz Bridge, wrote on Trip Advisor: “The Painted Bride has been a Philly institution for many years and it has a beautiful performance space that features a diversity of talent from jazz to world music to ethnic dance to percussion ensembles.” Visit Philadelphia notes “most major cities have alternative performing arts spaces, but Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Art Center is the mother of them all.” The Bride’s “Jazz on Vine” was Philadelphia’s longest running jazz series. Its jazz programming was nationally recognized. In 2010 and again in 2012, the Bride received the CMA/ASCAP National Award for Adventurous Programming. CMA/ASCAP stands for Chamber Music America/American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The Bride is more than a performance space wrapped in bejeweled tiles. The Bride is a community space that was about intersectionality before the term was coined. It provided a platform for community engagement in social justice issues. It is sad to see the Bride downplay the cultural and social significance of the iconic building with which it has a symbiotic relationship. The “Skin of the Bride” mosaic has been the Bride’s public face for more than two decades. Tellingly, the façade is the background in every staff photo. Last week, the Bride tweeted it is “more than brick and mortar.” As you well know, every property owner who opposes historic designation says the same thing.
  2. 2. The Bride holds stories of Philadelphia’s rich jazz heritage. It is a place where culture was made and lives transformed. The building provides a context. As such, the Bride should not disappear from public memory. The Bride’s opposition to historic designation is fueled by fear. In a separate tweet, the Bride said “potential designation stalls our plans for the organization, impacts the property’s market value, and ultimately limits what resources we can later allocate to artists.” Assuming for the sake of argument the fear is justified, it is outside the purview of this committee. The sole issue before the Committee on Historic Designation is whether the building is significant to the City of Philadelphia, pursuant to the Historic Preservation Ordinance. The Painted Bride Art Center meets several criteria for designation. Accordingly, the committee should recommend the building for listing in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Thank you.