We were lucky to be featured in the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts journal, The Artful Lawyer. We’ve had great help from that program, but also from others at the Arts and Business Council, so we thought we’d expand on their article a little, to shout out to the many volunteers who have helped us — see the original article here!
The Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia provides a lot of support to arts organizations in town, but The Resource Exchange has primarily benefited from two programs — Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and Business Volunteers for the Arts. Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts connected The Resource Exchange with volunteer attorney Jennifer Porter of Dechert’s Corporate Practice, PVLA Legal Services Coordinator and University of Pennsylvania law student Matt Corriel, and partner-associate volunteer attorneys Thomas Witt and Kevin Golden of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Group. The ABC’s Business Volunteers for the Arts provide assistance with strategic planning, financial management, marketing, public relations, special event planning and human resources. BVA’s Director Eileen Cunniffe and Programs Coordinator Joseph Guerin connected us with marketing assistance from two BVA participants, Banu Kadioglu and Heidi Travis.
Jennifer helped Karyn apply for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, an intense but necessary process. If RE was a simple business instead of a nonprofit, donations would not be tax-deductible and we would not be able to apply to many foundations and corporations for support. This support is essential to offset the cost of our reclamation work and keep our prices low, an essential aspect of our mission to create equal access to reclaimed art material regardless of income.
Once we were able to find a building to house our retail location, PVLA helped us with zoning hearings. The big red building at the corner of Cedar and Cambria wasn’t built to house studios, handball and parkour courts, or creative reuse retail like it does today.
Originally, the building held munitions and, according to local legend, was the site of a protest attended by Jane Fonda. While we’re still trying to confirm that particular detail, we can definitely attest that the building is, well, bigger on the inside. And full of labeled cement floors, freight elevators, old offices, and dark corners. Our PVLA legal help enabled our section of the building to be rezoned, from industrial to commercial space. This was, in the words of our Executive Director Karyn, “huge.” Without this rezoning, we could never have created the lovely little shop we have today.
Our BVA volunteers, Banu and Heidi, have spent many hours creating a marketing strategy for our fairly unusual niche. This has included not only meeting with our employees and volunteers, but also attending meetings with partner organizations like the Greater Philadelphia Film Office and spending time with us in the shop. In addition, Heidi took part in our events [DesignPhiladelphia, P.O.S.T., etc.] this past fall, volunteering not just her business expertise but also her skills as an artist! Support from BVA volunteers has given us a new perspective on marketing, and we greatly appreciate their help!