PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 14, 2023)—The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) announced today that it has awarded 40 grants and fellowships totaling $9 million in support of Philadelphia-area cultural organizations and artists. The grants will fund public events and programs that celebrate the diverse and creative contributions of local artists and tell personal stories of prominent Philadelphians. Several projects highlight the role of the arts in grappling with illness, healing, and caretaking—especially since the pandemic—while others focus on contemporary expressions of cultural identity.
The Center’s 2023 awards include $8.1 million to 28 local arts and heritage organizations for project funding, $1.3 million of which is provided as unrestricted general operating support. Plus, $900,000 in unrestricted funds will go to 12 Philadelphia-area artists as Pew Fellowships in the Arts.
“Our newest grants illustrate the arts’ contributions to understanding and reflecting on salient issues of the moment,” says Paula Marincola, executive director of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. “From contemplating experiences of living through a pandemic to interpreting multifaceted cultural identities, the funded projects and artists will offer programs and creative works that will be meaningful to a wide range of audiences and invigorate civic and artistic life in the Philadelphia region.”
Donna Frisby-Greenwood, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ senior vice president leading the organization’s work in Philadelphia, adds, “The richness of the Center’s 2023 grantees reflects the diversity, complexity, and vibrancy of our city and region, and it is gratifying to see the Center’s grantmaking foster work that will reach communities across the region.”
Following is a partial list of organizations and artists receiving awards, along with the topics they will address. A full list of grantees and funded projects is available at pewcenterarts.org/2023grants.
Project grants: This year’s grants to cultural institutions range from $100,000 to $300,000, plus an additional 20% in general operating support, bringing the maximum award to $360,000. The funded works will engage communities and audiences across the region through contemporary visual art and historical exhibitions, films, music, dance, and theater performances.
Showcasing Philadelphia’s rich culture
- Ars Nova Workshop will celebrate the lineage and culture of jazz in Philadelphia through the world premiere of an evening-length composition created by tenor saxophonist Odean Pope and his student-turned-colleague saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins.
- Penn Live Arts will host hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris in a three-year residency to present new dance works along with a selection of his dance company’s past performances. The artist, who was raised in North Philadelphia, will also reconnect with communities and public schools in his hometown, using dance workshops as a way to address social issues such as gun violence.
- Woodmere Art Museum will examine and exhibit works from the five-decade career of Philadelphia-based ceramic artist Syd Carpenter, whose pieces explore Black American culture, history, farming, and gardening.
Interconnections of art with illness, healing, and care
- The Clay Studio will consider the relationship between health and working with clay in an exhibition featuring ceramic artists whose works address healing, rest, and resilience as a response to the pandemic and ongoing social justice movements.
- Philadelphia Theatre Company will produce a one-act, sing-along musical, Night Side Songs, that addresses experiences of caretaking, illness, and mortality with performances at the theater and at caregiving sites around the Philadelphia region.
- Thomas Jefferson University will present an immersive multimedia installation by visual artist Pepón Osorio that delves into the artist’s personal experience with a cancer diagnosis and treatment as a person of color, highlighting health care inequities in the U.S.
Unique stories of Philadelphians
- Drexel University will collaborate with a diverse group of storytellers who will share Philadelphia’s history based on their research on the Atwater Kent Collection. Drexel will collaborate on the project with First Person Arts and WHYY, producing a podcast series and public exhibition of artifacts from the past three centuries.
- Independence Seaport Museum will collect and archive oral histories of Black Philadelphians who have worked or lived along the Delaware River. The first-person accounts will be made publicly available while also guiding the reinstallation of the museum’s flagship exhibit, “Tides of Freedom: The African Presence on the Delaware.”
- William Way LGBT Community Center will produce a documentary film chronicling the life of Japanese American author and activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya, who was a dedicated advocate for human rights and a founder of the Gay Liberation Front in Philadelphia.
Expressions of cultural identity
- Intercultural Journeys will commission four composer-pianists to translate memories and histories of local Black, Latino, Asian, and neurodiverse communities into a 12-movement suite to be performed by an ensemble of four pianos as well as individual pianists.
- Taller Puertorriqueño will invite residents in its surrounding Fairhill and Kensington neighborhoods to learn textile traditions from Guatemalan and Puerto Rican designers, culminating in a collaborative outdoor fabric installation.
- Theatre Horizon will tell personal stories of transnational adoption in a new comedic musical created by artist Amanda Morton and inspired by her life experiences as an adopted Korean American child raised by white parents, as well as stories of other adoptees.
Pew Fellowships in the Arts: This year’s Pew Fellows in the Arts are Philadelphia-area artists working in visual art, film, literature, performance, and music. In addition to an unrestricted award of $75,000, each fellowship includes professional advancement resources such as financial counseling, workshops, and opportunities to participate in artists’ residency programs. Among the Fellows are:
- Candice Iloh, an author who captures the nuance of young Black life in coming-of-age novels and poetry, including the forthcoming Salt the Water, to be released this October by Penguin Random House.
- Shehrezad Maher, a South Asian American filmmaker who intersects documentary and creative storytelling and draws influences from visual arts, theater, and music to reflect on intergenerational family experiences and histories.
- Samantha Rise, a singer and songwriter whose songs explore social justice, joy, and Black and queer identities and are influenced by folk, jazz, blues, and Americana genres.
- Armando Veve, a visual artist whose illustrations offer whimsical storytelling and commentary on contemporary and historical subjects in vividly detailed works such as a Sonoran Desert toad applying lipstick, “absurd” furniture designs, and a reinterpretation of an Aesop fable.
About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and dedicated to fostering a vibrant and diverse cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and it engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. For more information, visit pewcenterarts.org.