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Home Court: The Hartranft Basketball Court Revival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lillian Dunn: Lillian@villagearts.org
Zack Neiner: ZackNeiner@76ers.com
Council Rep: Jane.Roh@Phila.gov

Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Sixers Youth Foundation and the Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and The Village Of Arts and Humanities Unveil Creative Placemaking Project, ‘Home Court: The Hartranft Basketball Court Revival’

On Thursday, June 28, The Village of Arts and Humanities, the Sixers Youth Foundation and the Philadelphia 76ers, The City of Philadelphia, and members of the Fairhill-Hartranft community, will unveil the creative placemaking project, “Home Court: The Hartranft Basketball Court Revival.”  This 12-month project, designed in collaboration with Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), turns the renovation of a vital, but severely disinvested, local basketball court into a “revival” by leveraging this substantial investment in infrastructure to spark a sustainable reawakening of the community’s civic power and cohesion. The Village and renowned Philadelphia artists Shawn Theodore, Ill Doots and Michael McDermott worked in intensive collaboration with neighborhood coaches, players, parents and leaders to create a 3,000 sq. foot participatory art exhibit exploring the courts’ past, present and future. 

On June 28th, the 76ers, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, The Village and community members will host a Ribbon Cutting Block Party. The event will begin at 3 p.m. inside the exhibit space at 2519 Germantown Ave. Community members will perform original music written collaboratively for the occasion, and then, carrying art banners featuring new court “entry agreements” will walk in procession to the newly renovated courts. The following Block Party will feature 76ers-run basketball clinics for youth, performances by the Sixers dancers and local musicians, and the first public viewing of the participatory art exhibit from 6-9 p.m. 

“My heart is joyful today as we celebrate a community that is reclaiming more than this basketball court and physical space: Fairhill-Hartranft is reclaiming its history, its narrative, and its own power and ability to write its future,” Council President Clarke said. “Community revitalization doesn’t happen with just shovels and dollars, it happens when we protect and strengthen the diversity of voices and passions of people. Beauty, joy, and play belong to us all. My thanks to the Sixers Youth Foundation and Philadelphia 76ers, the Village of Arts and Humanities, and all of the organizations that supported this wonderful project.”

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation also supported the project. “Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is proud to have worked on the ‘Home Court’ community revitalization project,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Deputy Commissioner Orlando Rendon. “Providing safe and fun recreation areas for our youth is crucial to our city’s health and wellness.”

The “Home Court” project began when the Sixers Youth Foundation and 76ers approached LISC to help them identify a neighborhood basketball court in need of renovation. LISC connected with long-time partner, The Village of Arts and Humanities, to identify Hartranft Basketball Courts at 9th and Cumberland streets, as a key location for this investment. The courts are a beloved cultural hub that have served many generations. However, after the closing of the adjoining Hartranft Community Center in the late 2000s, disappearance of funding, and the loss of a teenager to violence at the courts, coaches found it difficult to build cohesion among volunteers and maintain safe, healthy recreation for young people at the space. 

Neighborhood anchor institution The Village of Arts and Humanities saw the need and opportunity to unite and energize the many civic leaders and youth who care for the courts, performing an internal “renovation” of relationships, knowledge, and leadership while the external court renovations took place.  

“This project is not about the next month, or year. It’s about the next 100 years. It’s a testament to the power of community leadership and strong, trusted relationships to produce meaningful shifts in civic engagement and equitable resource distribution,” says Aviva Kapust, executive director of The Village of Arts and Humanities.

The Village teamed community leaders up with photographer Shawn Theodore, hip hop collective Ill Doots, and composer Mike McDermott, all nationally-renowned artists who have taught and practiced in the community for years. The team began by interviewing over 50 community members, and created a participatory art exhibit in photo and audio that has doubled as a community organizing space for the neighborhood to convene with one another and plan for the future of the courts together. 

“It takes many voices for our community to be heard,” says Reggie Johnson, local activist, project advisor, and ward committee member. “We need to work together to bring the courts back to life, and this is our start.”

The Sixers Youth Foundation and the 76ers have doubled down on their investment in the courts with extensive programming at Hartranft Elementary School. 

In conjunction with the announcement to renovate the court last year, the Sixers Youth Foundation ensured classroom support was also provided by embedding two signature programs at Hartranft School. Additionally, the Philadelphia 76ers hosted a day of service that deployed more than 125 staff members to the school in an effort to beautify the grounds and pack classroom kits for the students in preparation for the impending school year.

“The renovation of the Hartranft basketball court is just one component of the larger efforts that are revitalizing this historic Philadelphia neighborhood,” said Amy Hever, Executive Director of 76ers Community Engagement. “This incredible collaboration is due in large part to the leadership of Council President Darrell Clarke, the residents of Hartranft, Village Arts & Humanities, LISC Philadelphia and Parks & Recreation. The sport of basketball truly holds a uniquely unifying quality to it, and we hope this new court will be a staple of this community for many years to come.”

The exhibit includes Hartranft students’ voices and visions for the future of the courts, collected during tours and workshops, and has already hosted programming such as community music workshops, memorial tile making, and meetings between the Sixers Youth Foundation and local coaches. 

The exhibit will be open to the public at 2519 Germantown Avenue, with set visiting hours and tours by request until July 18. The Village hopes that the exhibit will inspire visitors to understand the foundational importance of equitable investment in supporting community health, and will continue to serve as a catalyst for neighborhood self-organizing and advocacy. 

It was additionally supported by Artplace America and LISC Philadelphia. Visit www.spaces.villagearts.org for more information.

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About the Village of Arts and Humanities

For almost 30 years, The Village of Arts and Humanities has supported the voices and aspirations of its community in North Philadelphia through providing opportunities for self-expression root-ed in art and culture. The Village is a nationally-recognized model for the power of the arts to sta-bilize and revitalize underserved communities, and annually impacts approximately 5,000 youth and families, enlists the help of approximately 600 volunteers, and serves a 260-square block target area of North Philadelphia bordered by 5th and Broad, Diamond and Glenwood Streets. Each year, over 600 regional and international visitors trek to North Philadelphia to witness the transformative work it has accomplished.

About the Sixers Youth Foundation

The Sixers Youth Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is committed to positively impacting the lives of young people in the Greater Delaware Valley. Its mission is to use the power of sports and entertainment to inspire and educate future generations in the classroom and on the court. For more information go to www.SixersYouthFoundation.org.  

About Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the most storied franchises in the National Basketball Associ-ation, having won three World Championships, earning nine trips to The Finals and making 48 playoff appearances over 69 seasons. The Philadelphia 76ers organization is a Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment property.

About Philadelphia LISC

Philadelphia LISC catalyzes resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. We receive our funding from banks, corporations, foundations and government agencies. We, in turn, use that funding to provide financing (loans, equity, and capacity building) and technical and management assistance to local partners and developers. LISC has invested $435 million (and leveraged $1.5 billion) in Philadelphia’s neighbor-hoods to build or preserve 8,500 affordable homes and to develop 2.3 million square feet of retail, community, and educational space since 1980.