Organization gives creativity back to underserved areas

Art-Reach is an organization that advocates for people and facilities that do not have access to the arts and other cultural experiences.

Philadelphia’s Art-Reach is an organization that brings art to those who may not already have it, believing in its “transformative power.”

Art-Reach’s fall festival, on Sept. 27, is a way to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the people who make the organization’s mission come true.

This year’s event will be held on the grounds of the Ridgeland Mansion in West Fairmount Park. It will feature food trucks, live music and other art demonstrations for people of all ages.

Art-Reach has been bringing art to Philadelphia’s underserved audience for nearly 30 years. Formed in 1986, the organization has reached more than 248,000 people through the present day.

Working in schools, hospitals and other facilities, Art-Reach strives to give art to anyone, because of its belief that art is significant to culture. The organization believes that culture is something that people deserve on the merit of being human, so it works with people who are “dispossessed,” regardless of age, background and disabilities, physical or mental.

Since its inception in 1986 by founder Joyce Burd, Art-Reach has always been about giving back to the community.

The festival will also feature performances from Commonwealth Choir, Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night and the Creative Kids Club Hoopstarz, a hula-hoop dancing troupe.

The event “invites a lot of members of the community to come out and see Art-Reach in action,” Katie Phillips, development and communications manager for the nonprofit, said.

A large portion of community support is because Art-Reach differs from many programs in its inclusiveness.

“It’s humans, every age, every race, every religion,” Davis Howley, singer and guitarist for Doylestown based indie rock group Commonwealth Choir, said. “Everybody needs to experience [art], or at least have the ability to make that choice. It can’t just be locked up in someone’s ‘multi-bajillion’ dollar museum or gallery.”

Howley will be performing at the fall festival.

Birdie Busch, of Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, holds the same values as the program and its performers.

Both Commonwealth Choir and Birdie Busch have also been ardent supporters of Art-Reach’s mission.

Creative Kids Club Hoopstarz will also be performing. Hoopstarz is a group of children performing dancing with hula-hoops. Creative Kids Club is one of the many art partners that work with Art-Reach. The Hoopstarz have received warm receptions at venues such as Soundgarden Hall in Philadelphia.

Art-Reach also works to advocate for facilities that are accessible to people with physical disabilities, such as wheelchairs and walkers, as well as the deaf and blind who may require other accommodations to get the most possible out of the experiences at museums and other cultural experiences.

The festival will also include another Philadelphia cultural staple: food. Some of the city’s finest food trucks will be present at the event like Vernalicious, Hot Diggity, Mama’s Meatballs, Lil’ Pop Shop and Sugar Truck Philly, are advertised.

“One thing that is different from last year is the interactive arts activities – we did have a couple last year, but we really made a concentrated effort to bring a lot of our art partners in so that they could both display their work but also for people to interact with it and create things while they are there,” Phillips said.

Vince Bellino can be reached at and on twitter @VinceTNF

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