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The Citizen Recommends: Philadelphia Inclusive Arts Festival

An inaugural arts festival highlighting inclusivity starts tomorrow with a goal of raising the voices of the underrepresented

An inaugural arts festival highlighting inclusivity starts tomorrow with a goal of raising the voices of the underrepresented

A quick science lesson: A caldera is created when a large magma chamber is emptied by a volcanic eruption. As more and more magma erupts, cracks develop along the summit and it begins to collapse into itself, causing a fractured, gaping hole—a void of sorts.

It is also the name of a new Philly-based magazine whose goal is to bring awareness to this void or “the hole left behind” by refilling it with the too often underrepresented voices of creatives within the POC and LGBTQIA+ communities. These voices, along with those of the disabled and other marginalized groups will join together for the inaugural Philadelphia Inclusive Arts Festival happening across the city from September 6 through September 9.

The idea initially took form between Caldera Magazine founder Zoe Rayn and Access Point founder and occupational therapist Alanna Raffel, who works to spread awareness about accessibility for people with disabilities. From there, they joined forces with Davinica Nemtzow of Creating United Empowerment, a charitable online art gallery, and soon began finding ways to repair the cracks they noticed were quickly spreading within the art community.

“Our goal is to welcome Philadelphians that care about art and culture from a variety of backgrounds and abilities. Everyone is welcome to participate and share their experiences,” Raffel says.

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The events throughout the festival range from panel discussions, community dinners, and workshops. One panel will focus on breaking through stereotypes with experts in the field like writer, editor and communications manager Elizabeth Clay; painter and art educator Santiago Galeas; Asian Arts Initiative Executive Director Anne Ishii; and artist and art educator Symone Salib.

Other opportunities encourage visitors to create their own art by reclaiming space via writing, drawing and designing an “identity wall” as a group, while other discussions will cover the importance of branding and business development for creatives and artists.

Marcus Branch, long time Philadelphian and local artist, photographer, performer, and teacher, will be a panelist during the “Get Yourself Out There” discussion that will focus on encouraging artists to feel comfortable talking about getting paid and the challenges that come with it.

“How do we talk about the struggle as well as the triumphs?” Branch asks. “I often share my testaments via my work on social media, both the good and bad, the doubts, and how I combat those doubts and what moves I’ve made for myself.”

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The University of the Arts grad says he was happy to collaborate on the festival and quickly joined in to help. This speaks to the level of involvement and quick turnaround Raffel, Rayn, and Nemtzow were able to bring in. “Everyone brought something different to the table,” Raffel says. “We are lifting up the voices of artists representing marginalized communities so that we can all learn from each other.”

While the festival came together in under six months, the team is already looking ahead to what next year could bring. More accessibility, more voices heard, more voids filled.

“There’s so much that’s actually here in Philly,” Branch says. “It’s pushed me in my work to dig deeper and find those ranges of people. My experience here has always been this kind of constant discovery.”

Thursday, September 6-Sunday, September 9, Various Prices, Various Locations, Click here for the full schedule.

Photo via Alanna Raffel

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