The Philadelphia Assembly

The City of Philadelphia


Vision and Strategies

At the close of 2019, the Philadelphia Assembly ratified a suite of strategies that puts the people first. For this Assembly strengthening Philly’s field of creative placemaking was actually about supporting the folks who already do the work, connecting them through democratic process, and enabling access to multiple forms of investment. In their words: “Philadelphia is a place of almost opportunities, boundaries, borders, and determination. Understanding this, the Assembly shares a commitment to the practice of arts, culture, and equitable community development. Some may call it creative placemaking. For us, it’s about the front line people who have been here, been committed, and are doing the work to keep the place despite the many challenges they face”


“It’s the People who Make the Place”


Their ratified strategies for their pool of $2M start with the formation of a cooperative organization, an entity that would build on the spirit of the Assembly’s vision for communal ownership through democratic process and power building. Upon its formation it will generate 3 additional strategies: an equity-centered granting program to offer gifts of recognition to practitioners; A Rotating Loan Fund and Sou Sou i.e cohort-based and participatory infusions of capital that recycle the initial principle; and a mission aligned investment portfolio to further protect and shore-up the places and local-ventures that make up the field.

Despite the immense burden of making progress amidst the twin pandemics of 2020, the Core team, elected by the Assembly, designed and implemented one of their ratified strategies all while developing innovative governance structures for the future cooperative. In 2020 the group was able to distribute $165,000 for its inaugural equity-centered granting program, Money in the Streets. These distributions took the form of no strings attached relief grants to artists and practitioners, existing mutual aid funds, and in the hiring of an Artist as the Assembly’s Program Manager. Their work continues into 2021 and beyond.

Read more about the Philadelphia Assembly's journey in the closing chapter of ArtPlace America: 10 Years.

The Assembly

Current Core + Leadership Team
Wit López; Assembly Project Manager 
Core: Dave Kyu, Jamaine Smith, Tonnetta Graham, Michelle Currica, Chris Rogers, Wit López


Assembly Members
Pamela Bridgeforth, Philadelphia Association of CDCs
Denise Brown, Leeway Foundation
Betsy Casañas, Semilla Arts Initiative
Tommy Joshua Caison, North Philly Peace Park
Michelle Currica, Samuel S. Fels Fund
Vashti DuBois, The Colored Girls Museum
Verónica Ayala Flores, LISC Philadelphia
Leigh Goldenberg, The Wilma Theater
Tonnetta Graham, Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation
Cassandra Green, Mill Creek Community Partnership
Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Small But Mighty Arts
Lenora Jackson-Evans, Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Center, Inc.
Aviva Kapust, The Village of Arts and Humanities
Melissa Kim, LISC Philadelphia
Dave Kyu, Asian Arts Initiative
Wit López, Till Arts Project
Trapeta Mayson, Philadelphia Poet Laureate
Vernoca Michael, West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Stasia Monteiro HACE CDC
Christopher Rogers, Paul Robeson House
Tinamarie Russell, North Central Susquehanna Philadelphia Community Development Corporation
Andrew Simonet, Artists U.
Jamaine Smith, Project HOME
Jennifer Turnbull, Spiral Q
Catzie Vilayphonh, Laos in the House
Yolanda Wisher, Philadelphia Contemporary
James Wright, People's Emergency Center
Carol Zou, Artist USDAC


Facilitation Team
Esteban Kelly and Daniel Park, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives

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