PhiladelphiaDecember 18, 2014  Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that War of the Worlds: Philadelphia, a city-wide interactive theater and video game experience by artists Frank Lee and Adrienne Mackey, has been selected as Philadelphia’s submission to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge is an initiative to support innovative, temporary works of public art of any medium in cities across the country.

“Philadelphia is a global leader in public art. We believe that art in public spaces increases citizens’ access to and understanding of art and encourages artistic expression,” said Mayor Nutter. “War of the Worlds: Philadelphia is a creative and thoughtful idea to engage citizens with art in a non-traditional forum, by incorporating a digital technology and an interactive element. I want to thank everyone who responded to our call for ideas and I want to congratulate Frank Lee and Adrienne Mackey.”

War of the Worlds: Philadelphia is a proposal to renew H.G. Well’s classic drama of a martian invasion through city-wide, interactive game play and theater presented in iconic city sites and in accessible, neighborhood centers. War of the Worlds will merge large-scale video game play and theater, creating a shared civic moment. The theater aspect of War of the Worlds will be responsive to the choices of the audience playing the video game in real time.

“The Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy (OACCE) is excited by the finalist project War of the Worlds,” Helen Haynes, Chief Cultural Officer. “This proposal presents an extraordinary opportunity for us to showcase Philadelphia’s future through technological innovation, audience participation and creative expression.  If chosen, this project will promote our interconnectedness and civic pride.”

In November 2014, OACCE issued a call for ideas to Philadelphia artists and organizations. The City received 65 submissions, which were narrow down to two finalist by an independent selection panel made up of City officials and leaders in the artistic community. From the finalists, Mayor Nutter then selected the winning idea to submit to Bloomberg.

“It is extremely exciting to reach people that would never be reached through traditional channels,” said Adrienne Mackey. “I think it’s an opportunity to help define an emerging art form – gaming – in ways that produce new kinds of stories that are both more inclusive and richer than I’ve seen in the commercial sector.”

Frank Lee added, “In working with Adrienne Mackey, War of the Worlds: Philadelphia has evolved into a hybrid between games and theater. I’ve always been fascinated with merging physical play, such as tag and hide-and-seek and digital games into a new form of interactive art at a grand scale.”

Bloomberg will review submissions from cities across the country and will select a group of finalists. In May 2015, at least three cities will be selected to receive up to $1 million each to execute their projects over two years.


For more information on Bloomberg Philanthropies, please visit

For more information on the OACCE, visit: and on Twitter @creativephl.

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases
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