Media Bureau—An Artists' Colony Teeming With Talent—Flourishes in NoLibs

By Nicole Finkbiner
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 13 | Posted Jul. 27, 2011

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In addition to offering numerous groups and nonprofits their space to hold fundraising events and drives for free, Media Bureau has always opened its doors to artists in need of a venue, equipment or advice. 

In 2009, the Bureau collaborated with the Philadelphia Youth Network, the U.S Department of Labor and the Philadelphia Film Office, provided studio space and equipment to teach 14 students the craft of documentary filmmaking. For Entrepreneurship Week back in April, in partnership with the nonprofit the Empowerment Group, Barnett held workshops at the University of the Arts about starting a small business and how to market it online using social media. has recently partnered with—a Temple journalism class—to allow students to contribute to the site. 

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is definitely alive at Media Bureau at all times,” Cohen says. Which was evident when they founded the Independent Film Festival, the Bureau’s bread and butter for the past four years. 

The film fest screens titles that many Philadelphians would never get a chance to see. This year’s program showcased close to 100 local and international titles. 

While this might not compare to the 250 screenings that the Philadelphia Film Festival puts on every year, Barnett doesn’t see them as competition. Noting that people often equate “indie” with “dinky” and “unprofitable,” he says what people don’t realize is that, “We get 10,000 people from out of state to show up online and interact.” 

This is in addition to the thousand or so people who actually attended the screenings and the 20 or so filmmakers who came from across the globe to promote their projects during a series of roundtables and Q&A sessions. Giving the fest even greater muscle, the Franklin Institute partnered with Media Bureau this year to host the majority of the screenings. 

The film festival, which wrapped up in late June, is actually just the start of a 12-month marketing program that includes weekly/monthly screenings, forums and Q&A sessions. “A lot of times when you take your film to a festival, they show it and that’s it,” Cohen explains. The Bureau has produced an estimated 10 titles and been involved in the filming of at least 35 others. Currently in the works is The Halls of Harold Carvey, a psychological thriller set in an insane asylum by local director James Difonzo. “We want to really get behind the filmmakers and support their art,” Cohen says. 

On the night the film fest kicked off, Cohen was driving around the city delivering screeners to the five different venues. He returned clearly dazed and drenched in sweat.

“If I’m not sweating, I’m not working,” he later joked.

At the end of the day, passion is what keeps Media Bureau in business. 

“We are almost an endless reservoir of stories, places, films, voices,” says Cohen. “And I love it.”

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Comments 1 - 13 of 13
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1. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:26AM

“saw the Jameson Van Horn Band perform last Friday at The Media Bureau for the Benefit for Brazil! Awesome! check them out on facebook, twitter, or ReverbNation...”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 02:47PM

“The Benefit for Brazil Concert was my first experience at the Media Bureau. This place is incredible! The Rock N' Roll Gods must have been smiling down upon us, because despite the at times overwhelming heat, all the bands rocked harder and played better than ever! There just seems to be something about this place that seems to channel creativity. All in all: great bands, kick-ass venue, and I can't wait to do it again. Hopefully it won't be one of the hottest days on record next time”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 03:15PM

“THis was my 3rd experience at the media bureau. I had been there a few times for the Philly Independent Film Festival, which was great. I have to say this was my best experience there despite the heat. They provided plenty of water which was great! I was blown away by the bands and how organized the show actually was. Even at "real venues" sometimes the sound is horrible or bands are late to play but this was very professional. Very Impressed! Go Harmonica Lewinskies!!”

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4. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 03:18PM

“Awesome bands. Awesome spot. do it up media bureau.

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5. Pious Traveler said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 06:32PM

“Wow! Great article on a spot I was at 10 years ago. It's great to see Philadelphia support the arts and politics like this and a place like this can thrive.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 06:48PM

“They had an fantastic play last summer during the Fringe Festival called "The Acting Class" - incredible!!! Great to see how much they inspire people to do what they love! Thanks, MBN - Keith, Ben, Bernard and THANKS to PW for covering this great gem!”

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7. Chester Coperpot said... on Jul 27, 2011 at 08:40PM

“I worked on an upcoming web series which we shot at the Media Bureau earlier this month. Bernard who runs the acting school out of Media Bureau helped us with casting, as well as acting in a supporting character role. There is not limit to the resources or talent that flow through the Media Bureau. It is wonderful to finally see this place get the recognition it deserves, great article. Keep up the good work MB!!”

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8. Richie RIch and The Poor People said... on Jul 28, 2011 at 01:42PM

“Hey this is Richie Rich and the Poor People we played the night of the Benefit For Brazil concert and wanted to say that we had a wonderful time at the Media Bureau. Big thanks to Steve and Ben for putting this together and we hope to play at this spot again sooon!!”

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9. Turnpike Collective said... on Jul 28, 2011 at 04:14PM

“Thank you to everyone involved with the show. The Media Bureau; Kieth Cohen, Ben Barnett, Bernard Glincosky! We could not have done it without your support! The bands; Luke Elliot, featured on the front page of the article, Richie Rich and the Poor People, Harmonica Lewinskis, Lower East Side Blues Collective, Jameson Van Horn Band, you all forced us to push through that heat and dance! Big ups to Harmonic Distortion for providing the lights and amazing audio! We are a force to be reckoned with, see you all at the next show! thank you PW!”

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10. 21st Century Fox said... on Jul 29, 2011 at 05:32PM

“Where is this place? I am not from Philadelphia. Looks like a great place for artists to meet business. Thank you.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jul 29, 2011 at 06:42PM

“so glad to see the MBN ppl getting the recognition they deserve. they are absolutely amazing bunch of guys esp Izzy Atkinson and Ben "for future reference" Barnett. inspiring and creative entrepreneurs!! love love love.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Jul 31, 2011 at 08:22AM

“I had my first experience with MBN just under 4 years ago. The quality of everything that they do is evidence of how much passion they have for art.They consistently put on excellent shows and you always feel like you're part of something special and sort of hidden. Thanks to Keith for bringing me there to begin with.”

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13. Jabba the Hut said... on Jul 31, 2011 at 08:51PM

“Rockers!! Haha! Kenny and Jigsey! Thx for that!”


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