PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention today announced Donkeys Around Town, a creative new civic program to encourage delegates, members of the media, and local residents to see a little more of Philadelphia during Convention Week. The program features 57 fiberglass donkeys, representing the 50 states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., and Democrats Abroad. Each donkey will depict iconic images of the state or territory it represents as well as the name of its state or territory and will be painted by a local Philadelphia-area artist.
Once painted, the donkeys will be displayed from July 1st through September 5th at a number of accessible locations throughout the Center City area, where most Convention activities outside the Wells Fargo Center will take place, and beyond. Delegates, residents, members of the media, and visitors alike will be encouraged to find all 57 donkeys. In doing so, delegates and visitors will see a number of different parts of the city they otherwise may not visit while they’re in town for the Convention and residents will be able to participate in a fun Convention-related program. The Host Committee will also hold a scavenger hunt surrounding Donkeys Around Town, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Donkeys Around Town will be a great way to generate excitement about the DNC locally and nationally, engaging delegations from across the country and around the world, providing opportunities for the Philadelphia arts community, and bringing Philadelphians into the Convention fun around town,” said former Governor and Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee Chair Ed Rendell. “We are grateful for the support of so many local organizations to make this project happen, and excited to see all the different donkeys on display this summer — they are going to be a hit.”
The Donkeys Around Town program was announced at a press conference today at Franklin Square, where at least one donkey will be located during the program’s run. The Pennsylvania donkey, which was created and debuted during a visit of the state chairs to Philadelphia last fall, was present at the press conference as a donkey prototype. The Pennsylvania donkey was painted by a local artist from the Amber Arts Program, and the iconic Pennsylvania images depicted on the donkey were selected by First Lady of the Commonwealth Frances Wolf.
The Host Committee partnered with the Mural Arts Program and ArtJawn.com to find and work with about 30 local artists who will paint the other 56 donkeys. The Host Committee invited each State Democratic Party across the country to offer recommendations about the images that will grace their respective state donkeys. The parties, in turn, have been providing information and feedback to the Host Committee and the participating artists through ArtJawn.com, a Philadelphia-based online platform that connects the local arts community with the resources and communication tools they need. Once completed, all 57 donkeys – fabricated by Roe Fabricators in Chester, PA – will be installed at their locations on July 1st, in conjunction with the kickoff to Wawa Welcome America, Philadelphia’s annual July 4th celebration.
“As the head of a longstanding Philadelphia cultural institution, I’m excited for the Democratic National Convention this summer, and for Philadelphia to shine in the national spotlight,” said Jane Golden, executive director and founder of the Mural Arts Program. “It’s been a thrill to partner with Governor Rendell and the DNC Host Committee on the Donkeys Around Town project, which not only spotlights the wealth of artistic talent in our city, but also represents the diversity and soul of our great country.”
“What an honor to see my hometown, Philadelphia, hosting folks from all over the country,” said Caryn Kunkle, CEO of ArtJawn.com. “Donkeys Around Town is focused on welcoming all of those travelers with an artistic homage to their home-state, so in July make sure you go out and find your donkey! You can find more information about the program and our involvement at ArtJawn.com.”
The donkeys will remain in their locations through Labor Day, after which the delegations will have the option to take home their respective donkeys. The donkeys that remain will be auctioned to the public by ArtJawn.com with a minimum opening bid of $500 (not including shipping and handling fees). All proceeds from the sale of the donkeys will be pooled and split evenly among the full contingent of artists who painted them, in addition to a $1,000 stipend they will each receive for their participation and work.
Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia, said, “We are pleased to support the Donkeys Around Town initiative as it will provide Philadelphia artists the opportunity to apply their skills and be compensated for their work in bringing these artworks to life. Donkeys Around Town will also just be great fun for the delegates and all Philadelphians as we hope that people will try to see and take selfies with all 50+ donkeys.”
Meryl Levitz, president and CEO, VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, said, “Photo opps are important, and the 57 Donkeys Around Town will give locals, visitors, media and delegates the chance to snap and share their fun Philadelphia images with friends and family – all potential future visitors.”