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Drexel Joins Virtual B. PHL Citywide Innovation Festival

PHILADELPHIA September 04, 2020

With a new virtual format and a focus on supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts in the Philadelphia region, the 2020 B. PHL festival — a celebration of the city’s creative spirit — will bring together innovators for three days of talks, workshops, meet-ups and curated experiences from the city and around the world. Admission to this year’s festival is free, with the option to make a donation to the PHL COVID-19 fund. Drexel University leadership, faculty and professional staff members, including President John Fry, will participate in several events during the festival, which will be held from Sept. 15-17.


Headlines for this year’s event include Emmy award-winning actress, writer and producer Issa Rae; entertainer, activist and philanthropist Armando Christian Peres — better known as Pittbull; actor, comedian, author, producer and entrepreneur Nick Offerman and a number of the region’s innovative leaders in activism, education, the arts and various business sectors.


While all events will be held virtually this year — the second for the festival — organizers are still planning for plenty of interaction.


“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our B. PHL community. After careful consideration of the risks and regulations around COVID-19, we have decided to shift the format of the 2020 B. PHL festival to include virtual sessions and a mix of curated, in-person small group experiences. As the City of Philadelphia looks to open parts of the economy, we are committed to jumpstarting the rebuilding and recovery process in support of these efforts,” B. PHL organizers said in a statement.


Fry will join Wendell Pritchett, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, for a talk about how institutions of higher education are adapting in the face of the pandemic and working to create a new normal for teaching and learning. The discussion, called “Put Down Your Pencils: The 2020 Class(Zoom)” will be held on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m.


Also on Sept. 15, at 1:30 p.m., Angel Hogan, department manager in LeBow College of Business and current MFA student, will present her short film documentary, “By Law, By Love,” about a boy’s quest to find his family after growing up in foster care. Hogan, who is active in a number of Philadelphia arts organizations, is also representing a nonprofit digital media and performing arts program that is presenting her film — 5 Shorts Project.


Youngmoo Kim, PhD, director of Drexel’s ExCITe Center and a professor in the College of Engineering, will moderate a panel along with Jessica Zweig, program director of Play On Philly, a tuition-free, immersive music education program, about how arts and education are innovating during the pandemic. Panelists will include Valerie Gay, chief experience officer at the Barnes Foundation; David Devan, general director of Philadelphia Opera; and Melissa Talley-Palmer, administrator of the Bartol Foundation. The discussion, which will be held Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., will also mark the start of a collaboration between the ExCITe Center and Play on Philly featuring a series of similar panel discussions through September and October. For more information visit:


On the final day of the festival, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m., Scott Cooper, PhD, president and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and Clay Catongo, of the Penn Museum, will present “A Night at the Museum(s)” virtual tours and talks. Cooper will discuss how the Academy, one of Philadelphia’s oldest institutions, continues to innovate after 200 years.


Participants can donate to the PHL COVID-19 Fund, which provides grants to area nonprofits that serve at-risk populations. By visiting the B. PHL website or



For more information about the festival and to register, visit