Creative Communities


Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2018
Source: William Penn Foundation

PHILADELPHIA (September 6, 2018) – Today the William Penn Foundation announced $9.4 million in new funding for 20 arts and cultural organizations. These grants further the Foundation’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and creative Philadelphia through increased access to high-quality arts and cultural experiences by bringing programs directly into Philadelphia neighborhoods and schools.

“Art has the power to enhance our experience and engagement with one another and with the city, which is why we support the city’s arts and cultural organizations and efforts to ensure more people have access to these experiences," said Leonard Haas, Vice Chair of the William Penn Foundation board of directors.

The recently awarded grants fall into two funding categories -- Arts Education and New Audiences/New Places -- within the Foundation’s overall Creative Communities portfolio.

Arts Education Grants
Arts education is an essential component of a holistic education for every child, and the Foundation funds programs that increase access to arts-based learning for Philadelphia students. As part of this latest round of grants, $5.8 million will go toward advancing arts education in Philadelphia by funding programs that are working in partnership with Philadelphia schools to deepen and expand the existing arts instruction the schools currently provide.  Additionally, these partnership programs connect students with the city’s arts and cultural organizations with the aim of fostering the current and future generations of Philadelphians who value and engage with the arts.

This round of three-year arts education grants support programs led by the following organizations:

• Arden Theatre Company
• ArtWell
• Lantern Theater Company
• Opera Philadelphia
• Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
• Philadelphia Orchestra Association
• Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
• Play On, Philly!
• Settlement Music School
• Taller Puertorriqueño
• The Clay Studio
• The Print Center
• Walnut Street Theatre

New Audiences/New Places Grants
Approximately $3.6 million in funding will support organizations that are engaging new audiences by taking artistic experiences into neighborhoods and communities to engage local residents. These participatory and community-based projects create meaningful and locally relevant art, provide audiences with greater opportunity to tell their own stories, and increase representation for historically underrepresented communities.

“By supporting this kind of work we hope to help elevate local artists and organizations that reflect neighborhood-specific ideas and diverse perspectives to increase participation and community engagement,” said Judilee Reed, Program Director for Creative Communities at William Penn Foundation. “We believe deeply in supporting projects that reflect the communities in which they happen and ideas that address the ever changing cultural landscape."

With the aim of fostering creative expression throughout the city and engaging new audiences and bringing cultural experiences to neighborhoods, the recently approved New Audiences/New Places’ grants support the following projects:

The Barnes Foundation will partner with the People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) to present a two-year series of arts programs at both the Barnes and “The Bank” (3750 Lancaster Avenue), a community hub which serves the surrounding West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

New York Live Arts and Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) will present the work of artist Rashaad Newsome in fall 2019, including an exhibition at PPAC, a community engagement component, and a public performance grounded in the tradition of vogue dance balls.

• The Cherry Street and Race Street Piers will act as outdoor stages when Philadelphia Contemporary presents Festival for the People, a series of dynamic programs, sculptures, installations, videos, and banners celebrating unity, participation, and self-expression. The festival will run from October 13-28, 2018, with extensive programming during each weekend.

Philadelphia Orchestra Association will share its creative output by bringing its music to Philadelphia’s neighborhoods with six free neighborhood concerts a year for the next two years (one full orchestra concert and five small ensemble performances). Concerts will be curated in collaboration with civic partners and a lens toward celebrating and exploring cultural and community identity. Educational engagement activities will also be held that reflect the diverse interests and unique characteristics of each community.

Mural Arts Philadelphia will mount, over 10-weeks in 2019, a sequential series of three arts projects (each lasting three to four weeks) that will explore the history, current condition, and future potential for the Rail Park.

Theatre Exile will offer its new Out of Exile program in summer 2019 and 2020, monologue workshops and family-focused plays presented for free in South Philly parks. 

About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.6 billion as of December 31, 2017.