Artists-in-residence program creates recipe for healthy civic engagement in Philadelphia

The SPACES Artists-in-Residence program at The Village of Arts and Humanities is a winner of the 2013 Knight Arts Challenge. Lillian Dunn is SPACES program manager. RELATED LINKS 

Artists-in-residence amplify creative energy of North Philly neighborhood” by Lillian Dunn on Knight Blog, 08/29/14

This summer, Philadelphia-based public arts collective Amber Art & Design joined The Village of Arts and Humanities for the first cycle of SPACES, a unique urban artist-in-residence program in which artists live and work on site in North Philadelphia.

Amber Art sought to celebrate local culinary traditions and foster excitement around healthy food in the neighborhood. To that end, they created The Village Table, a ticketed four-course sit-down meal held in Meditation Park. Anyone could earn a ticket by volunteering or sharing a recipe with the team, creating an alternative exchange based on civic engagement.

Each night of The Village Table itself was a magical moment. The artists brought Meditation Park to life with glittering lights, upcycled tables and chairs, and fresh flowers.

Village Executive Director Aviva Kapust says that the Amber artist residency continued the creative legacy of The Village founders. “As one of our founding members James ‘Big Man’ Maxton used to say, ‘The ’hood grows walls.’ Decades of disinvestment in our neighborhood have led to socioeconomic isolation, trauma and mistrust. By creating a space where community members break bread together, The Village Table helps break those walls down, too.”

Amber’s last meal for 2014 took place on Oct. 23. The Village plans to reactivate the space for community events when warm weather returns, and to offer their artist space as a tasting kitchen for local nutrition initiatives.

Take a seat at The Village Table by watching our second SPACES video blog post, “SPACES Episode 2: New Ingredients.” You can follow our daily updates on the project at