On Monday morning, another big announcement happened with a Michael Nutter photo op: Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe are combining efforts, solidifying a headquarters, expanding their scope, renovating a new space, and as Emily Guendelsberger put it, thankfully, shortening their combined names into FringeArts. This is big news. Not only is the nature of Philly Fringe and Live Arts morphing before our eyes into something bigger and better, they’re carving out a space for themselves across from the beautiful new Race Street Pier underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. It’s going to be a massive space with multi-functioning spaces and a BAR. Oh, and public restrooms that’ll be open to the public all-year-round.
Take it from the horse’s mouth via their press release:
“Our future home is located across the street from Race Street Pier at the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard. The 1903 historic former pumping station will be transformed into a year-round center for contemporary performing and visual arts; the 10,000-square-foot building will feature:
+ 240-seat Theater
+ Restaurant and Bar
+ Outdoor Plaza
+ Permanent Festival Hub
Programming under the new FringeArts banner will expand to include not only the annual 16-day Festival but also a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater and music performances both local and international; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists.”
As noted in Emily’s post, there might be a teeny, tiny problem – train and car traffic and the resulting noise. She said that even with a mic, when a NJ Transit train passed by, it’s all you could hear. But that’s outside. Even though an outdoor performance space sounds cool, you’ve gotta be crafty about what you do and when you do it. The theater sounds totally rad, though. We won’t say no to these kinds of things filling up our city.
With Morgan’s Pier, that damned beautiful Pier and Sugar House and all that, it looks like the city’s actually trying really hard to make that waterfront a thing. And while there’s plenty of room for improvement, they’re getting there. Like, can we do something with that monstrous Dave and Busters? Can we connect Old City more seamlessly with these new waterfront attractions? We gotta try.
With Third Ward and the looming reno and reuse of The Dolphin, it really feels like this city’s on the cusp of an explosion of art. With Union Transfer, we’re becoming a city with a world-class diversity of spaces. It’s happening, you guys!
There’s one other thing. Does Philly have enough actual art and artists to keep these enterprises humming? Maybe all this means that talent, voices, thoughts and art’ll be looking at our city with a keener eye; Philly has the resources and the spaces to facilitate every kind of show that can be dreamed up.