by Len Lear
For the Kulick family of Mt. Airy, involvement in Allens Lane Art Center (ALAC) is a cherished family tradition. Joshua Kulick, 33, who was recently appointed as the new ALAC board president, is the third generation of Kulicks to keep ALAC’s motor running in high gear. Josh’s grandparents, Esther and Sidney Kulick, were near-charter members of ALAC and were heavily involved for years. Esther took numerous classes and served on many committees over the years, and Sidney served as board president from 1976 to 1978.
“I remember as a child attending many functions there,” recalled Josh’s father, Joel, “including plays, some of which my aunt Phyllis Gosfield had a leading role in, and fundraising auctions. In addition, my older sister Sheila and I worked at the day camp for a couple of years in the early ’60s. (Ed. Note: Phyllis and her husband, Gene, also owned and operated Under the Blue Moon, the landmark Chestnut Hill restaurant that closed almost 20 years ago.)
“More recently, upon the deaths of our parents in 1991 (Esther) and 1995 (Sidney), our family started a fund that is self-directed through the Philadelphia Foundation in their names. For a number of recent years we have made grants to ALAC, supporting their ‘Vision Thru Art’ program that presents ceramic and sculpture classes for blind and visually impaired students. This was a perfect place for our parents’ fund due to their many years of involvement at ALAC and the fact that my mother worked with blind and partially blind students in both Montgomery and Bucks Counties, helping them mainstream into regular classrooms.”
When asked about his future plans for ALAC, Josh replied, “First, a huge thank you to last year’s executive committee, as well as Lucy Strackhouse, Larry Liss and Brenda Abrams, all board members who hit their term limits and had to roll off the board after many years of service to the center. I’d also like to welcome our newest board members: Jamese Newsome-Williams, Casey Buckley and Dr. Dan Moscow.
“Second, I’d like to highlight the accomplishments of our executive director, Craig Stover, who took over as executive director in June of 2008. Today, anyone can walk into our beautiful, thriving center and enjoy our diverse slate of programming. That makes it easy to forget how difficult things were in 2008. Not only were we in the middle of the Great Recession, but the center had also just extended itself to complete a comprehensive renovation of the facility.”
Josh grew up attending Upper Dublin School District schools in first through 12th grade. Outside of school, he was a self-professed serial entrepreneur, doing everything from shoveling snow during elementary school to selling theatrical lighting supplies to local schools and theaters while in middle school to eventually running a small lighting rental and production company during high school and college. He somehow also found time to be a percussionist in the concert band, a “lighting guy” in the drama club and a varsity football player.
In 2005 Josh graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem with a B.A. in Science, Technology and Society. For 12 years after graduation, Josh lived in New York City working for an entertainment services company, an internet startup, a theatrical supply company, a financial services company and a custom software development company.
In 2014, though, Josh quit his job in NYC, moved back to Philly and started his own business, Results Theory, Inc., working as a CIO-on-demand, partnering with small businesses to streamline their business processes with technology.
Since he is heavily involved in his own business interests, why is Josh taking on the added responsibilities at ALAC? “When I moved to Philadelphia in 2014, I was hoping to find a way to give back to the community. I also craved an opportunity to get involved in the arts again … What makes Allens Lane Art Center so special is its mission and the community it serves.
“The center was founded in 1953 by a diverse group of Mt. Airy residents who were concerned about the dangers of increasing community tension. They saw that creative activities could bring people together across economic, religious and racial lines, to help them overcome prejudices. Today, Allens Lane still promotes ‘living together in the community through arts’ by offering programs and activities that enrich the lives of numerous children and adults.”
When asked about the best advice he has ever received, Josh said it came from a former boss: “Failure breeds success.” In other words, said Josh, “Not being afraid of failing allows you to take some chances that you might otherwise avoid, while knowing how to fail gracefully allows you to quickly change course when something doesn’t work. Most importantly, being brave enough to take a step back and accept failure and learn from it will ultimately lead to success.”
For more information about ALAC, call 215-248-0546 or visit allenslane.org.