Philadelphia has a unique arts and culture sector that is essential to the vibrancy of the city and the backbone of creative expression in the region. A rich, diverse cultural sector reinforces the city’s position as a great place to visit and live. To build on this identity, promote artistic excellence and protect the long-term viability of Philadelphia's artistic assets, we must ensure that its arts organizations have the resources they need to thrive.

To support the region’s arts and cultural sector, we provide flexible working capital through unrestricted, core organizational support, so that arts groups have the confidence and resources to pursue their missions and produce innovative, high-quality work.

Rosenbach Museum & Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

Recognizing a need to better serve and build its audiences, the Rosenbach Museum approached the William Penn Foundation about support for a merger with the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. As two organizations with similar missions, both felt the merger would facilitate financial strength, visibility and audience-building beyond what either could achieve individually.

In its efforts to engage audiences in new and enhanced ways, the Rosenbach gained a strong partner in administrative, financial and development work, while exposing its collections and programs to the Free Library's larger audiences. The merger created one of the world's most significant collections of rare books, manuscripts and Americana, and has established a world-class cultural asset in Philadelphia for residents and visitors alike.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass

As the Philadelphia Orchestra continues to bring the world’s greatest music to its home city, it approached the William Penn Foundation to help support four collaborative performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers in spring 2015.

Rarely staged as initially conceived, Mass involves a large pit orchestra, two choruses and a boy choir, a Broadway-sized cast, a ballet company, and marching and rock bands. To realize the piece, the Orchestra collaborated with outside partners and leveraged the skills of others to enable local audiences to experience Mass as it was originally produced in 1971.

Mass, which explores the role of religion in modern society, advanced the Orchestra’s strategic initiative to reach new audiences and identify new resources through collaboration. To heighten audience engagement, the four performances were complemented by multidenominational discussions, led by religious leaders of various faiths, about religious freedom.

Kimmel Center photo by Tim Haas

The David Lynch exhibition at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

David Lynch, an artist and filmmaker who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in the 1960s, attributes his time in Philadelphia as having fundamentally shaped his vision, work ethic and creative identity. His retrospective exhibition at PAFA in late 2014 and early 2015 featured 165 pieces: a mix of paintings, drawings, film and works in other media.

The William Penn Foundation supported the exhibition because it not only recognized the central role PAFA and Philadelphia played for Lynch as an artist, but also enabled audiences to learn about his work and local ties. This marked Lynch's first U.S. museum exhibition, shown only at PAFA because he wanted to highlight its importance and influence. The show is an example of the many experiences that are unique to Philadelphia and its vibrant arts sector. As the Foundation strives to support arts that are unavailable anywhere else, this exhibition provided Philadelphia the opportunity to showcase in Philadelphia one of its own.

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