The Moonstone Arts Center promotes creative exchange through diverse cultural programs. Each year Moonstone produces over 200 public events including poetry, author appearances, music, theater and film at our location in Center City, Philadelphia. We also organize collaborative programs such as Thomas Paine: The Forgotten Founding Father and John Brown: 150 Years Later.
One of our most successful annual programs is Poetry Ink: 100 Poets Read, seven hours of poetry, food, and conversation with poetry lovers from around the area during Poetry Month in April. In addition to the reading, we produce a chapbook each year with one page for each reader who chooses to be included.
We believe that the arts, creativity, and imagination are essential aspects of life, learning and community. The Moonstone Arts Center is a division of Moonstone Inc., which also operates the Moonstone Preschool in South Philadelphia.
The Moonstone Arts Center is expanding Moonstone’s traditional programming of authors, poetry, and political discussions, with new programs of music, theater, comedy, film and writing workshops. We are beginning a program to help emerging poets publish their work, and will offer chapbook editing, design and printing. Our space is available for other organizations to rent or co-produce programs. In addition to the Moonstone Poetry Series we now host Poets & Prophets and the Poetic Arts Project of Philadelphia. Music programs are being developed with Lucky Old Souls, Ian O’Beirne and Rustic Music. Writing workshops include a poetry workshop with Leonard Gontarek, a fiction workshop with Philadelphia Stories, and a non-fiction workshop with Susan Perloff. Moonstone is also producing Thomas Paine: The Forgotten Founding Father, with public lecturers, an essay contest in the high schools, and a panel discussion on the 200th anniversary of his death on June 8, 2009, with historians and Paine scholars, Eric Foner, Jack Fruchtman, and Harvey Kaye. For more information see: www.forgottenfoundingfather.net
Moonstone is also adding an annual membership component and new services. In the past, Moonstone events were hosted by Robin’s Book Store, which also underwrote many of Moonstone’s expenses. Now that Robin’s has shrunk, it can no longer do this. Moonstone is also supported by grants from The Barra Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Samuel S. Fels Fund and the William Penn Foundation. However, foundations are cutting back and some are not funding projects anymore at all but are rather only offering support for “structural development.” What this means in practice is that these foundations want the non-profit organization to now have “earned income” in order to fund their projects and to no longer be dependent on “contributed income.”
This also means that organizations like Moonstone have to begin to have “products” to sell, as well as charging admission to events in order to pay for the expenses of running the organization. We are meeting this challenge both with increased programming – some of which will have cover charges, products and services for sale – and through annual memberships.
What is Moonstone? Why be a member? Many people who have attended our programs are not aware of Moonstone’s history and other activities. Founded in 1983, Moonstone is a 501 (C)3, arts and education organization whose mission is to stimulate communication across the barriers of language, gender, ethnicity, and age, utilizing the arts and the concept of multiple intelligences as a guide in both our preschool and our adult programs. We create programs based on the philosophy that the arts, creativity, and imagination are essential aspects of life and learning. We believe that the artistic process is critical in understanding how people think and interact with our world and that learning is a life long activity. Moonstone Inc. currently operates the Moonstone Preschool and the Moonstone Arts Center.
Moonstone preschool uses a unique arts-based curriculum that is based on Howard Gardner’s educational theories of multiple intelligences (MI). MI theory asserts that human cognitive competence is best described in terms of a set of abilities, talents, and mental skills that each child develops at different rates based on biological and cultural influences. These “intelligences” include music, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.
Moonstone’s programming for adults includes about 200 events a year with over 300 artist-participants and over 4000 attendees. In the interest of involving under-served populations, we created five tracks which consist of group readings and individual presentations. These are Black Ink, Philadelphia Ink, Poetry, Red Ink, and Women’s Ink.
For 18 years, we produced the Celebration of Black Writing before turning it over to Arts Sanctuary in 2002 and we produced The Paul Robeson Festival for ten years beginning in 1989. Moonstone’s El Festival Cubano ran for three years before ending due to the fact that we could no longer gets Cubans into the country. We also produced a one man play on Clarence Darrow, a four-part series on Thomas Paine’s Legacy: Three Centuries of Revolution in Philadelphia and Richard Wright Week in Philadelphia featuring his daughter Julia Wright and poet Lamont Steptoe. Thank you for being a part of Moonstone.