PHILADELPHIA — The Department of Commerce is pleased to announce recognition awards to artists, task force members and organizations growing the creative economy in Philadelphia. These awards were presented last week during the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month Event on Friday, March 31. Over 150 community members came together to celebrate and recognize the abundant efforts to advance arts in education and the creative economy throughout Philadelphia. The Inaugural Forum also featured live performances, servings from local chefs and a forum around the importance of financial assistance for creatives in Philadelphia. Event photos are now available.

“Philadelphia is where creative, determined and collaborative people come to live, work, play and make their marks. Philadelphia’s diverse population of talented, innovative people grow our vibrant creative economy — with passion and a spirit of invention,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Events like the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month help build long-lasting connections for creatives of today and tomorrow. Our Administration is proud of and dedicated to recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of our arts, culture, and creative industries that uplift the quality of life in our great city.”

Artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce goods and services that generate jobs, revenue, and quality of life in Philadelphia,” said Anne Nadol, Commerce Director. “We encourage everyone to be aware of the tremendous positive impact of the creative economy and arts in education that benefits individuals, organizations, entrepreneurs, and our local, regional economy. The Department of Commerce is honored to recognize these incredible efforts during the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month. The goal is to continue investing in local artists, creatives, businesses and the bright future of our city.”

“The City’s Department of Commerce has an unwavering commitment to helping creatives and entrepreneurs reach their highest potential. We also celebrate our young vibrant learners in neighborhoods across the city who sparkle with imagination, talent, and creativity in their daily lives,” said Sophie Heng, Director of Creative Economy Initiatives, Office of Business Development and Workforce Solutions. “The Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education is an important milestone as we continue to celebrate, advocate and support creatives of all ages in our city. As we build on this work, we are pleased to share that we will soon be launching the Philly Youth Creates Seed Fund Challenge open to Philadelphia high school students. The Seed Fund Challenge will be an opportunity for students to pitch their business plans and compete for seed capital to launch and/or expand viable creative businesses.”

On March 31, during the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month Event, the Department of Commerce celebrated with recognition awards to the following:

Task Force Awards

“Philadelphia’s Night Time Economy Director role is an implemented recommendation from the Arts and Culture Task Force,” said Dawn Summerville, Deputy Commerce Director, Office of Business Development and Workforce Solutions. “We are pleased to recognize and celebrate milestones, like this one, based on the diligent efforts of Task Force members. Their recommendations can continue to help inform local policies and programs for the arts, culture, nightlife and creative industries in our city. The Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month is a chance to celebrate how far we have come, as we enhance a roadmap for how we can continue to grow the creative economy together.”

Making Space Awards 

“On behalf of the Cambodian Association and the communities we serve, I would like to wholeheartedly say thank you to the Commerce Department and the City for the Making Space recognition and award,” said Sarun Chan, Executive Director of Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia. “The Cambodian Association’s work for the past 4.5 decades has been to preserve, support, and advocate for our community’s education, health, and culture. The Southeast Asian Market in FDR Park has always been an inspiring cultural symbol for our Cambodian & Lao communities. We are excited that the Southeast Asian Market is officially open again every Saturday and Sunday from 10a.m to 6p.m. The last day of the market this year will be October 29, 2023. The Market remains a beacon of Southeast Asian pride, culture, and heritage.”

“The Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Forum was inspiring. It was beautiful to see people across the board be honored for their creative efforts and impact within their communities,” said Kevin Parker, Co-Founder of Philly Fashion Week. “These events are important because they help us come together, bridge the gap and share networks. Philly Fashion Week will continue to build infrastructure and worldwide recognition for our city’s design and fashion industry. We work to change what luxury fashion looks like in Philadelphia, attract international brands, expand opportunities for our local designers, and leverage our partnerships.”

Citizens Awards  

  • Evan MalonePresident, NextFab
  • Michael Fichman, City Planner, DJ, Founder of 24 HR PHL
  • Ciarra Lambert, Chair, Arts and Culture Task Force

“As artists, we can lead the way because we are not boxed in by conventional thinking. It is really important for the city to recognize the contributions of artists, because we are people who define the soul of Philadelphia. Great to see so many of us be recognized during the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month event,” said Michael Fichman, DJ, Producer and Chair of Nightlife of the Arts and Culture Task Force.  “I was very excited to see Kerri Park and World Cafe Live get their recognitions for creating the national independent venue association right here in Philadelphia while lobbying Congress to save live music across the country. The mutual respect that artists and the City have after everything our communities have been through the last several years is great to witness.”

“It is great to be recognized as an organization that has been showcasing the work of Black, Brown and Indigenous filmmakers and visual artists during our annual festival for over a decade in Philadelphia,” said Maori Karmael Holmes, Founder, Chief Executive & Artistic Officer of BlackStar Film Festival. “Our organization has grown to include more opportunities for independent artists via our seminar, filmmaker lab, podcast and journal. We hope to continue to foster these opportunities in a city quite literally defined by a past and present spirit of independence.”

The Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month by the Department of Commerce also hosted a forum around financial Assistance, technical support, and real estate for Philadelphia creatives.

“The panel discussion during the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month event was very informative around financial resources for entrepreneurs and creatives,” said Sinta Penyami Storms, Philadelphia Cultural Treasures Fellow and Founder of Modero & Company. “It was a pleasure moderating and seeing people from various communities help each other grow. These conversations matter because they help us see our shared challenges and opportunities that we can create together.”

Event partners, live performers, speakers and their biographies are listed in the event booklet available online here.

The full photo album available online here and can be accredited to photojournalist Dominique “Dom” Nichole.

Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month launched in March 2023 by the Department of Commerce. The City of Philadelphia Proclamation designated the month of March as Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month in Philadelphia. Throughout the month, organizations from across the city host events from webinars, arts activities, networking sessions, and workshops for creatives. On March 31, 2023, the Department of Commerce and partner organizations also hosted the Inaugural Forum for the Creative Economy and Arts in Education Month. The goal of this event is to celebrate creatives in Philadelphia and amplify a forum of discussion with City leaders. The goal is to support Philadelphia creatives with entrepreneurial education and resources while promoting our growth-filled arts, culture, and creative industries.

The Department of Commerce is the economic catalyst for the City of Philadelphia helping all businesses thrive. Commerce creates equitable wealth building opportunities through strategic investments and ecosystem partnerships. We aim for Philadelphia to be a more vibrant destination where employers flock, entrepreneurs thrive, and innovation abounds Commerce staff provides one-on-one customer service, outreach, and education to business owners. Commerce also partners with community organizations and business associations to reach all entrepreneurs. Visit us at and follow @PHLCommerce on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.