“Do people want something that provides more jobs and connects communities, or would you rather have a gentrification spaceship land here with more condos?” Caryn Kunkle, executive director at The Philadelphia Salon, brings up a valid point. Kunkle is working to turn the beloved Divine Lorraine into an art museum — scratch that, an all-around art and performance space/haven — rather than let the poor old girl become condos. “We have enough apartments,” says Kunkle, “but we don’t have enough art spaces.”
Kunkle is itching to get this project moving. As well she should be, since the idea first went public in 2012. “I have a great team of advisors and art directors. If we can lock down the Divine Lorraine, we have a whole lot of philanthropists who said they would help and write really big checks.”
To help gauge how many people want something like this (versus that gentrification spaceship), Kunkle began an online petition at Change.org, where people can show their support. Don’t worry, that’s not a veiled way of saying “donate.” Kunkle refers to the Divine Lorraine as a great opportunity for Philly to have what she calls “a contemporary arts stadium.” The former hotel would function as an artist community, a performance space, a gallery, an auditorium, and a way to bridge North Broad with the Avenue of the Arts.
“Let’s build something for the community that honors the Divine Lorraine’s history,” says Kunkle. “That building was made to connect classes and races and I would love to see it once again be a trendsetter.”
To add your name to the petition (do it!) go here.