The New Audiences/New Places grant making program funds artistic projects that engage new audiences through the use of public, civic, and community spaces as platforms for cultural performances and public art, supporting work that enriches community life and fosters creative expression throughout the city.

The Foundation believes in the intrinsic value of art and its ability to enhance the quality of life, inspire creativity, and enlarge worldviews and perspectives. The principal aim of the New Audiences/New Places effort is to increase resident and visitor engagement with dynamic, high quality public art by funding organizations to create art in places outside of their traditional venues and that reaches new audiences or deepens communities of constituencies. 


What We Fund

This strategy is intended to primarily provide funding support to professional arts and culture organizations operating outside their traditional venues. The Foundation supports a diverse range of high quality art projects in a wide range of public, civic, and community spaces with the over-arching expectation that the works will be highly available to the public. Specifically, the Foundation funds projects that have the ability to:

  • Engage audiences outside of traditional performance and exhibition venues, especially in community based settings where a diversity of people come together.
  • Promote new opportunities for residents throughout the city to engage in high quality cultural experiences.
  • Foster relationships between cultural organizations and neighborhoods, helping organizations reach audiences and communities that are new to them and/or the arts.
  • Expand the understanding of how enhanced engagement, active dialog, extended programming, or multiple points of access provide new audiences with cultural opportunities.

All aspects of project development and execution, including planning, design, civic engagement, and implementation, are eligible for funding through New Audiences/New Places.

Projects that are permanent, temporary, or seasonal in nature and in any discipline (e.g., performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.) are eligible for consideration.


Project Requirements

  • Work must reflect high artistic quality and artistic merit.
  • Work must be self-presented.
  • Projects must be located in the City of Philadelphia. [When an organization seeking funding through New Audiences/New Places is located outside of the City of Philadelphia, it should have strong understanding of local community and knowledge of working in Philadelphia.]
  • Work must be available to and targeted for an audience that is new to the organization, to the art being programmed, or to the arts in general. Proposals must include a detailed plan for communications, marketing, and outreach to the intended audience. Applicants will be required to articulate the thinking behind the selected location, describing how that space can reach the intended audience, how it fits the project being planned and how audiences will be engaged by that space.
  • Work must occur outside of the presenting organization's traditional venue and in a public or community space.
  • Preference will be given to works that can be executed within three years; however, all projects must be completed with 5 years.
  • Projects may be permanent or temporary, and in any discipline (e.g., performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.).
  • In cases where the project will require ongoing maintenance or some form of continuing stewardship, those needs must be addressed in the proposal.
  • When involving partnerships, projects must demonstrate close collaboration between artists, arts organizations, local community partners, and, when appropriate, directly with residents.
  • Evidence of organizational capacity to execute within the planned timeline/budget.


What We Do Not Fund

The following types of organizations are ineligible:

  • Battlefields/forts/military
  • Churches, synagogues, or other religious institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Presses or publications
  • K-12 Schools
  • Organizations that are not professional nonprofit arts or cultural organizations must apply to the Foundation as part of a partnership with an artistic team
  • For arts organizations, organizations that do not regularly engage and pay artists
  • Community arts organizations whose programming does not include any arts production/presentation
  • Rehabilitation or arts therapy
  • Hospitals
  • Video/recording/online organizations
  • Arts education organizations (youth or adult)
  • Organizations that do not have an audit, financial review, or compilation

The following types of projects are ineligible:

  • Projects outside of the City of Philadelphia
  • Public or private memorials
  • Film projects that are in final stages and seeking only finishing funds, post-production, and/or audience engagement support
  • Arts education projects (arts education organizations may be eligible for funding under the Foundation's Arts Education program)
  • Projects presented by a presenting organization


Evaluating Proposals and Grants

How do we select grantees?

An internal review team reviews all submissions and makes recommendations for funding to the full board of the Foundation. Each application is reviewed on its own merits, but in the context of the applicant pool. We fund organizations that demonstrate high quality programming and management, a track record of successful project implementation and financial and management capacity to complete the proposed project. In addition, we consider the following criteria as part of the selection process:

  • An ongoing and demonstrated commitment to excellence, innovation, and audiences.
  • Strength of staff and board leadership and evidence of organizational capacity to carry out the proposed work.
  • A history of planning and disciplined implementation.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the audience served and how art identified will reach that audience.
  • Deep experience in promoting artistic/civic/social engagement.

However, it should be noted that not all applicant organizations that meet the eligibility criteria will be recommended for funding because the Foundation receives many more applications than it is able to support.

Organizations that otherwise meet the eligibility requirements but currently have a Core Support for Arts and Culture Organizations grant should check with the Creative Communities staff before applying.

How do we measure success?

  • Agreed-upon outcomes will be determined by the applicant organization in collaboration with the Foundation during the full proposal review.
  • Outcomes will be specific to the organization based on mission, the proposed project, and other key factors.


Application Process

Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements may apply through a two-step process.

Step 1: Submit an Inquiry Form (please e-mail Hillary Murray to request a link for the New Audiences/New Places Inquiry Form)

Submit an Inquiry Form, a project budget, an audit or financial review for the most recently completed fiscal year, and operating budgets spanning the fiscal years to be covered by the requested grant. An applicable strategic, business, and/or financial plan should be submitted, if available. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation.

An internal review team will review the Inquiry Forms to determine eligibility and competitiveness given the applicant pool. Based upon this assessment, full proposals will be invited for the most promising applications.

Step 2: Submit a full proposal

Upon invitation, the applicant will submit a full proposal and standard Foundation submission documents. There may be additional materials requested based on the Inquiry Form review. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation. During the proposal review, outcomes of the grant will be finalized by the applicant in collaboration with the Foundation.

The following table is provided to help eligible applicants understand the schedule:

LOI Due By 5:00pm
Notification of Invitation to Apply
Proposals Due By 5:00pm
Scheduled Board Review
September 20, 2019
November 8, 2019
December 20, 2019
March 13, 2020
July 24, 2020


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Do you only review New Audiences/New Places proposals at the Foundation’s July Board meeting?
    A: We typically review all New Audiences/New Places proposals at the July board meeting. However, we do occasionally review certain proposals at the Foundation’s April or November Board meetings if the July schedule falls outside of a particular project’s time frame. Any applicants interested in bringing projects to the April or November Board meetings must seek prior approval from program staff to allow for adjustments to be made to proposal submission deadlines. These potential adjustments to the proposal schedule do not affect the LOI process; LOIs are due by the above LOI deadline. 
  • Q: Can we apply for funding through New Audiences/New Places if we already have a Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations or Arts Education grant?
    A: Yes, however, you should check with a program staff person before submitting because the Foundation does limit the amount of total aggregate support it provides to a single organization in a given year.
  • Q: What does “public, civic, and community space” mean? Can you provide examples?
    A: Examples of public, civic, and community spaces include parks, squares, plazas, trails, streets, libraries, recreation and community centers.
  • Q: What are “new" places?
    A: Public, civic, and community places outside of your organization’s traditional venue(s) and/or places not normally used for the production and presentation of art.
  • Q: Who are “new” audiences?
    A: Audiences in the City of Philadelphia who have less exposure to the arts, who are new to your organization, the project’s art form, or the arts in general.
  • Q: Is there a preferred project type?
    A: Projects may be permanent or temporary, and in any discipline (e.g., public art, performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.).
  • Q: Are all project costs eligible, including both planning and implementation?
    A: Yes, all costs associated with project development and project implementation are eligible.
  • Q: Can/should I contact a staff member of the Creative Communities Team before submitting an LOI?
    A: Prior contact with a William Penn Foundation Program staff member is not required.
  • Q: Should we submit work samples?
    A: Work samples will be requested if they are needed.