(Illustration by Sean Dooley)
Innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but reflects history and the figures who influenced the place of action.
Technical.ly will be spotlighting 10 innovators from Philadelphia’s past over the next 10 weeks leading up to Philly Tech Week 2020 presented by Comcast, happening May 1 through 9. Each day of the 10th annual fest has been assigned a hub, or a central location where multiple PTW events will take place throughout that day — and each of those hubs has been assigned one of our historical figures who best represents its spirit.
First up: John Coltrane (1926-1967).
“Innovation is an act of creation, none more so than jazz, the most experimental of all musical forms,” wrote CEO Chris Wink in his introduction of the series. “Philly’s rich tradition is prominently represented by icon John Coltrane. Coltrane was influenced by and played with other prominent Philadelphia-based jazz icons like Dizzy Gillespie.”
It’s an easy fit, therefore, to connect Coltrane, whose sax-playing career blossomed when he moved here in his late teens and began collaborating with artists in the local bebop scene, with REC Philly, which provides resources and opportunities for local creative talent to do what they love in a space with other independent artists. Its new 10,000-square-foot creative space located in Philly’s Fashion District opened in December, featuring four recording studios, a design studio and a 250-person Live Nation venue.
REC will serve as a PTW hub on Friday, May 1, and host events such as a legal education session with Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts from 9 to 11 a.m. and the music-and-networking-focused Cypher City Spotlight from 2 to 5 p.m.
Cofounder and Chief Creative Officer Will Toms sees an easy connection between REC, Coltrane and Philly’s startup ecosystem as a whole.
“We’re not just serving musicians, we’re serving the entire creative economy,” Toms said.
Toms said that REC Philly, much like jazz, is a juxtaposition of different things that come together to make a single better, more distinct thing.
Coltrane also broke down the traditional convention of jazz to create a better experience for those who watched him perform. REC Philly combines education, community and a creative space for various creators to come together to do more of what they love. Photographers can be in a coworking space next to booking agents, coders, models and musicians.
When varying perspectives clash, we have a better context for the world around us, Toms said.
“What this space means to a young creator who is figuring it out and knows they’re going to build a livelihood around their art, it’s a dream come true,” he said.
And yes, Toms thinks Coltrane would be a huge supporter of REC Philly: “If John Coltrane were still alive and he walked into REC Philly, he would probably cry tears of joy,” he said.
In addition to opening the new HQ, REC recently launched an app for its 800-some active members to book studios within the space and connect with other members via a community directory and jobs board. Learn more about what the org is working on and see the new space for yourself on May 1 during #PTW20.-30-
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