Temple Contemporary's programming is determined by a thirty-five member advisory council representing a broad spectrum of Philadelphia. This volunteer council is comprised of neighboring high school and Temple students, faculty and civic leaders representing a range of interests (economists, farmers, philosophers, artists, community activists, historians, etc.). To each of our public Advisory Council meetings every adviser brings one question of local relevance and international significance that they do not know the answer to. After all of the questions are discussed, the council votes for the questions that are anticipated to creatively address Philadelphia’s greatest social and cultural needs. The number of votes a question receives is proportional to the amount of resources (money, time, events) Temple Contemporary devotes to the programming addressing the questions.
We engage with these questions the way two people of mutual respect enter a conversation. Therefore, there is no way of knowing when or how our commitment to these questions will end. It is a process of becoming. The extent of the public’s participation in these questions (determined by audiences, web hits, discussions) is the deciding factor of how long we continue to address a question through public programming. By forcing ourselves into a public position of service to these questions it has necessitated a fundamental power shift, and mandates that the gallery recognize social engagement as the determining factor of our public programming. This re-ordering of conventional gallery values necessitates a foregrounding of curatorial accountability, reciprocity, and exchange that forms the basis of Temple Contemporary’s social life, and by extension, our social values.