This year was one for the books. From the start of 2020 many had plans for what these 12 months would entail, but for obvious reasons, plans changed. Here are just some of the stories from 2020 in the City of Brotherly Love that best exemplified how tenacious and gritty our city truly is.
Broad Street Ministry spread awareness
Broad Street Ministry has been serving Philadelphia since 2005 as an alternative church community, and their mission of transforming our city, our institutions and ourselves by embracing the individual needs of our most vulnerable sisters and brothers through a variety of services is especially relevant now.
To help spread the message of protecting our community, BSM partnered up with Mural Arts Philadelphia, StreetsDept.com and HAHA MAG to install portable hand-washing stations and informational murals in four different locations across the city in a collaborative sanitation project. The murals and hand-washing stations were located at the Broad Street Ministry at 315 South Broad St., and 839 South St., 2774 Kensington Ave. and the 1700 block of east-bound Vine Street. The visual representations of health and safety acted as a reminder for Philadelphians that containing this virus is of utmost importance—especially for those who couldn’t self-quarantine. Although these displays were temporary, the lasting effect they brought was incredibly essential.
To-go cocktails became available in Philly
A historic bill was passed this year in the Senate to help liquor licensees who were struggling during the pandemic. House Bill 327 permitted licensees to sell cocktails-to-go during the crisis this year. The bill was passed unanimously and was rushed to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf. The legislation allowed for restaurant and hotel licensees negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to sell mixed drinks to-go to consumers with a few stipulations: Drinks must be sold in a sealed container and additional protections must be in place to ensure the safe sale and transport of alcohol. Across the nation, 32 other states have adopted a similar measure to offer a lifeline to restaurants struggling to survive mandated closures.
Philadelphians supported Black Lives Matter movement
The death of George Floyd—an unarmed black man in Minneapolis at the hands of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin—caused riots and protests desperately calling for police reform. This instance, unfortunately, is not the first time a Black citizen has unlawfully been murdered at the hands of law enforcement, and to say that it should spark outrage is an understatement. Lately, there has been a lot of chatter on social media and beyond on what citizens can do to help support the Black Lives Matter movement. Some are showing support by attending protests, some are donating money, some are signing petitions, some are having difficult conversations. Local organizations joining the movement included BLM Philly, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, Reclaim the Block and the George Floyd Memorial Fund.
Opera Philadelphia premiered “HBO-like” channel
The Opera Philadelphia Channel created a digital space in which artists can perform and explore, through a series of new commissions by visionary composers and dynamic performances produced for the screen. Annual subscriptions priced at $99 are offered along with pay-per-view options for individual performances. The channel is available for viewing on computers and mobile devices, and on TV screens via Chromecast and the Opera Philadelphia Channel app on AppleTV, Android TV, Roku, and Amazon FireTV.
Just a few shows and performances that Philadelphians were able to tune into were a new production of Hans Werner Henze’s ‘El Cimarrón’ that was originally scheduled for Festival O20 at the Barnes Foundation, but will be reimagined as a cinematic experience starring bass-baritone Sir Willard White; a new production of ‘Soldier Songs’ from composer David T. Little, starring baritone Johnathan McCullough; a series of four short new digital works commissioned from some of today’s most dynamic composers that will be released throughout the season; and much more.
One of Philly’s largest festivals went virtual
Every year, FringeArts, the city’s premier establishment for contemporary performances, streamlines all of those attributes to produce a 17-day extravaganza featuring 1,000 curated and independently produced performances — the Fringe Festival. The annual event highlights the incredible talent that the City of Brotherly Love exemplifies in an interactive and highly personal way, and this go-around was no different.
2020 has been a year full of changes and adaptations, and just like many other events, Fringe decided to pivot and showcase its offerings on the virtual front. With over 100 distinct shows in this year’s line-up, the festival helped provoke and inspire artists to still participate in the popular cultural event by waiving artists’ registration fees. Many were able to adapt, but some had to rebuild their showcases completely to fit the new digital mold.
Philly’s circus urged citizens to vote
The Circadium School of Contemporary Circus, which happens to be the nation’s first school of higher education for circus arts, engaged students, neighbors, and the community and expanded awareness of the opportunity to vote early in Pennsylvania. Circadium’s talented students performed amazing circus feats and volunteers distributed vote-early information and connected voters to vote-early resources as part of a festive—but responsibly maintained and socially distanced—celebration.