The Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center Grand Opening

The 10-year project opens its brand-new facilities to the public.

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This week marks the opening of the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center in Manayunk. An event 10 years in the making, this massive project was a collaboration between the town’s community, the Philadelphia Water Department, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Located at 1 Vector Street, the Venice Island development reconstructed the former facilities between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal into a public space now filled with a performing arts theater, an outdoor amphitheater, a playground, basketball courts, and a spray park.

This Saturday, October 11th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., join the Manayunk community for a grand opening celebration on Venice Island. Live entertainment by The Roxborough Symphony Orchestra and singer-songwriter Brian Flanagan, and dance performances from Merge Studios and Simons and Emanuel Recreation Centers will make use of the new facilities. The Manayunk Theatre Company will also perform, as will Philadelphia Parks and Recreations’ Star Players, performing from their upcoming show Once on This Island.

The festivities will also include tours of the green infrastructure, including beautiful rain gardens, and outdoor art installations by Masayuki Nagase. The Percent for Art Program commissioned the artist to create a series of nature-themed, hand-carved granite benches, sculptures, tile pavers, and medallions for the site.

Next weekend, on Saturday, October 18th from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Venice Island launches Philly Mart, an open-air artisan market housing the arts, crafts, and goods of over 50 vendors. Located in the parking lot of the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, Philly Mart will open outdoors this month and November 8th, with indoor winter dates to follow. One vendor space will be given away each month for a local non-profit or community organization.

This makeover comes hand in hand with a Philadelphia Water Department effort to improve the health of the Schuylkill River. The project also included a new pump house and a subsurface basin that can store nearly 4 million gallons of water during intense rainstorms to later be pumped to a treatment plant. Not only is the new space beautiful and functional for the community, it’s improving our environment day by day, too.