A nonpartisan guide to how Philadelphia is engaging the community during the Democratic National Convention

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Above:  Artists paint the "14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words" mural for Broad Street on vinyl in a Philadelphia warehouse. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

This post has been updated to insert the correct name of the American Experiments Showcase and Challenge, and to add the date and time of the event. 

From July 25 - 28, Philadelphia will host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Philadelphia has hosted political conventions before, most recently the Republican National Convention in 2000. We have a proud legacy of hosting significant events, starting with the First Continental Congress establishing the city as the birthplace of American democracy. Just last year, Philadelphia hosted the World Meeting of Families featuring a two-day visit from Pope Francis. 

Hosting events such as the Democratic National Convention provides an opportunity to create a stronger culture of civic engagement and showcase Philadelphia as a thriving global city. We are proud to partner with local groups and nonprofits to leverage the convention to showcase local talent, improve public spaces, promote local art and culture, and encourage civic engagement by supporting the following events and activities:

  • National Constitution Center’s Headed to the White House Exhibit: The National Constitution Center has updated and enhanced its “Headed to the White House” exhibit to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. The family-friendly exhibits explain how the electoral process works, and the museum will also host political trivia contests, panel discussions and more. This exhibit runs January through Election Day in November, but during the convention the center and the exhibit will be a featured attraction of PoliticalFest, a nonpartisan citywide festival. 

  • Committee of Seventy’s Voices of Voting Performance will educate the public and local students on the importance of voting and civic engagement through the production of an interactive nonpartisan civic engagement performance, “Voices of Voting.” “Voices of Voting” is a short play which will use the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as its starting point and source material. Following each performance, the Committee of Seventy, a local nonpartisan good government nonprofit, will lead a “talkback” session that engages the audience to renew people’s commitment to civic engagement and participation. “Voices of Voting” will run during the convention in partnership with the Urban League of Philadelphia, Urban Affairs Coalition, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Philadelphia Youth Network. 

  • Broad Street Art Activation: In collaboration with numerous community art and cultural partners this project will engage people along Broad Street with a variety of local artists and performances. Broad Street is one of the first planned streets in the U.S. and one of Philadelphia’s main thoroughfares for residents and visitors. Activities along Broad Street will include a median mural stretching 14 blocks, pop-up performances by local performers and youth created public art. This project will leverage the Democratic National Convention to promote Philadelphia’s vibrant arts and cultural sector, improve public space, connect neighborhoods along Broad Street and expose thousands of residents and visitors to local talent.


Rendering of "14 Movements" mural for Broad Street in Philadelphia. Courtesy Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

  • Youth News Team Project: This collaboration among WHYY, KYW Newsradio, the School District of Philadelphia and the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement will offer a unique skill-building opportunity to Philadelphia high school and middle school students interested in journalism. Five teams of Philadelphia students will first take part in a “journalism boot camp” to learn how to report and write stories mentored by local news partners. Teams will then cover activities surrounding the convention and the issues they are passionate about including youth voices in the democratic process. 

  • American Experiments Showcase and Challenge at Microsoft Innovation Center will be an interactive public showcase and civic tech competition during the Democratic National Convention aimed at creating a dialogue and engaging conversation around the intersection of media and technology, democracy and citizenship. The challenge will be a unique way to highlight civic engagement and Philadelphia’s thriving innovation economy, hosted at the new Microsoft Innovation Center in partnership with the University City Science Center and the Committee of Seventy. The showcase begins at 10 a.m., Monday, July 25, and the challenge follows at noon. 


'Headed to the White House' exhibit at the National Constitution Center. Photo courtesy National Constitution Center

Patrick Morgan is the Philadelphia program director for Knight Foundation. Email him via [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @PMorganPHL.

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