Tonight, I’m at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, excited to announce the 43 winners of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia.
This year, we were once again delightfully surprised by Philadelphia’s creative minds. I think you’ll see why.
In the winners, there are several interesting trends, including ideas that will:
- Make art more participatory – including a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry IV where the audience will take part in an enormous battle;
- Explore cross-genre mashups – with projects that will combine technology and design, voice and architecture and food and visual art. To me, this is one of the most exciting areas. As our world and attention spans become increasingly fragmented, combining genres is an interesting way to engage audiences on multiple levels.
- Weave art into neighborhoods – with pop-up dance performances in addition to musical events in the city’s Latino neighborhood;
And always important for a city of Philadelphia’s creative caliber, several projects will:
- Develop the next generation of cultural thinkers with a student monologue series, after school music composition classes and more.
The full list is below, along with information on the people and groups behind them.
As you may know, this is the final year of our three-year Challenge in Philadelphia. And over that time, we’ve seen more than 4,000 ideas come at us, with 187 challenge finalists and eventually 114 winners.
What you’ve given us is incredible, and in the coming months we’re going to take what we’ve seen and learned and figure out a way to take more Philadelphia ideas to the next level through our community-arts grant making program.
We continue to be deeply committed to the arts in Philadelphia, and we’ll have some great news on more investments in the fall. Stay tuned.
Here are today’s winners – can’t wait to see how they develop.
By Dennis Scholl, Vice President/Arts at Knight Foundation
Ars Nova Workshop: A Month of Music Celebrates Philadelphia’s Jazz Heritage
Philadelphia has a rich jazz legacy, producing the talents of Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and more. The Freedom in the City Festival will honor this history by offering 30 days of programming that will take place at current and defunct spaces of significance — literally mapping the history of jazz in Philadelphia. While the current local jazz scene struggles as venues have closed, the festival will transport audiences to a Philadelphia teeming with iconic sounds, with an eye to reshaping the narrative around the city’s jazz scene and its future.
For more than 10 years, Ars Nova Workshop has brought the world’s leading artists of jazz, improvised and experimental music to Philadelphia and built a robust audience for this extraordinary art form. The workshop acts as a facilitator between artists and their audiences, while working to inform, inspire and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture. The workshop seeks to be a vital cultural resource for Philadelphia, where events provide a forum for discourse, emergent trends in contemporary music and unique forms of cultural exchange.
Art Sphere: Resource for Art Lesson Plans Expands Young Minds
Creating Legacies Thru Art will create a free online catalog of curricula and resources so that community groups, after-school programs and schools can empower and educate children in areas where visual arts programs are scarce. To help these groups implement their own unique art education programs, Art Sphere will provide teachers and volunteers to deliver hands-on instruction and guidance.
Changing lives through art since 1998, Art Sphere is the only nonprofit of its kind to deliver a range of artistic and human services to culturally underserved youth throughout the Philadelphia region. Art Sphere uses art as a strategic tool to educate and create meaningful experiences for people of all ages. With the support and partnership of public institutions and private organizations, Art Sphere mobilizes a diverse volunteer base to focus on beautifying public spaces and encouraging flourishing communities.
Artists U: Artists Get Career Support Through Professional Development Programs
Individual artists have few resources available to them for professional development, and often grow their careers reactively instead of proactively. Too many talented and accomplished artists are exhausted and discouraged about the future. Artists U will expand its professional development program with two elements: Planning Mondays, where any visual or performing artist can drop in once a week for a one-on-one consultation; and AU Intro Course: Building a Sustainable Life as an Artist, a three-week course on strategic planning, finances and creating an artist statement. Paired together, both programs will give artists the tailored, personal help they need to create a life that is both ambitious and achievable.
Artists U is a grassroots, artist-run platform for changing the working conditions of artists. Having started in Philadelphia and expanded to Baltimore and South Carolina, Artists U wants to change the conversations artists have in their heads, with each other, and with the world. The group pushes artists to build lives that are balanced, productive, and sustainable. Everything Artists U does is artist-to-artist and free for all participants.
Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia: Institute Cultivates New Skills in Emerging Arts Leaders
In order to encourage effective local arts leaderships and help Philadelphia organizations to be more sustainable and impactful, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia will establish an Arts Leadership Institute for new, emerging and prospective leaders of Philadelphia cultural organizations. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of management skills and leadership challenges, cultivate professional connections and improve their leadership confidence and motivation. Training, led by university faculty, corporate professionals and renowned arts leaders, will include personal leadership, organizational assessment, financial management, governance and more.
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia strengthens the city’s creative sector, including arts, culture and for-profit creative businesses, by engaging the business, legal and technology communities, providing capacity-building services, and serving as a thought leader. The council, with the support of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, is uniquely positioned to actively connect these sectors.
BalletX: Training Program Fosters Next Generation of Philadelphia Dance Instructors
BalletX will launch a new program to both expand its community outreach and further the careers of its dancers by training them as dance instructors. Members of the company and artistic staff will receive instruction in the methodology of the National Dance Institute, which emphasizes dance as a means of building self-confidence and transcending cultural, physical and cognitive barriers. Applying this pedagogical standard, BalletX will design a half-year outreach program for students in Philadelphia’s public schools. In teaching these students, BalletX and its dancers will gain professional experience in dance education while at the same time engaging children in the art of dance.
BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet, unites world-class choreographers with an outstanding company of professional dancers to forge new works of athleticism, emotion and grace. Founded in 2005 by then-lead Pennsylvania Ballet dancers Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, the Company is committed to producing original choreography that expands the vocabulary of classical dance for all audiences. As the resident dance company of The Wilma Theater, BalletX has built a repertoire of more than 35 world premieres by internationally renowned choreographers and has toured to prestigious venues and festivals across the United States and around the world.
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia: Local Artists Bring a New Spin to Bike Rack Design
While Philadelphia’s bike racks are utilitarian and unexceptional in appearance, they are critical to the city’s efforts to promote cycling. To raise their profile, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy will launch a competition among local artists to design and install artistic bike racks. These functional public sculptures will showcase local artists as well as raise awareness of the importance of bike parking.
Founded in 1972, the nonprofit Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia works to make the Philadelphia region a better place to ride a bike. Through education and advocacy, the Bicycle Coalition promotes bicycling as a healthy, low-cost and environmentally friendly form of transportation and recreation.
Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra: Amateur Musicians Deepen Their Connections to Classical Music
Further blurring the lines between creators and consumers of classical music, City Wide Side-by-Side will give exceptional amateur musicians a chance to rehearse and perform alongside the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. This audition-based opportunity will provide up to 40 adult amateurs the chance to deepen their connection to classical music. The culminating performance, of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, will take place June 21, 2014, in honor of National Music Day. To heighten the program’s impact and reach, the audition and rehearsal process, public performance and behind-the-scenes moments will be made into a mini-documentary that will capture the amateurs and professionals as they work together, side-by-side, to present a world-class concert.
Based in Philadelphia, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2007 and is the only professional orchestra in the region, and one of few in the country, to champion ethnic diversity in classical music. Founded by award-winning Music Director Jeri Lynne Johnson, one of only a few African-American women conductors on the scene today, the orchestra is dedicated to normalizing diversity in classical music. This mission is achieved by offering innovative community and educational programs, and presenting concerts of the highest artistic standard by musicians who represent all of Philadelphia’s rich cultural diversity.
BlackStar Film Festival: Film Festival Supports Independent Black Filmmakers
The BlackStar Film Festival is a highly visible platform for independent black filmmakers, providing genre-defying and beautifully crafted works to an audience thirsty for fresh perspectives. With challenge funding, the film festival will expand to include a short screenplay contest, where emerging writers can compete for a chance to have their work read during the festival and judged by a panel of industry professionals. The winning screenplay will be awarded a cash prize to produce the short film. BlackStar will also begin streaming exclusive short films on its website monthly, in 2014, building an archive of work that can be used for education or entertainment.
The BlackStar Film Festival, deemed “the black Sundance” by Ebony magazine, is the only event of its kind in Philadelphia. Focusing on cinema of the African Diaspora, the four-day festival provides an opportunity for filmmakers, patrons, and enthusiasts from all over the world to come together.
Breadboard at the University City Science Center: New Art and Technology Space Encourages Collaboration, Innovation
The Department of Making + Doing is building a collaborative space for curious Philadelphians to realize ground-breaking art and design that inspires, educates, excites and encourages creative “making.” The center’s partner organizations — Breadboard, The Hacktory, NextFab Studio and Public Workshop — will provide programming that will transform the space at 3711 Market St. into a vibrant place of creative production and civic innovation, where participants are encouraged to use technology and scientific concepts to tackle creative challenges. The partners hope the space will produce hybrid projects and products that could shine equally in an art exhibition, patent office, scientific conference or even a bus stop.
Breadboard is a hybrid program at the University City Science Center that facilitates cross-disciplinary art exhibits, artist residency programs, community outreach initiatives and special programs offering public access to a new generation of fabrication technology and workspace in an effort to empower individuals and convene communities around creative applications of technology. Breadboard also manages a public art space known as the Esther Klein Gallery that examines new art and contemporary arts practices that are influenced by technology. Breadboard programs support science, technology, engineering, and math educational initiatives and arts-based learning activities.
CITYWIDE: Multi-Gallery Exhibit Unifies City’s Artist-Run Collectives
CITYWIDE seeks to unify Philadelphia’s artist-run collectives in a month-long series of exhibitions and events. Throughout November 2013, more than 20 collectives will participate in an exchange of exhibitions, ideas and practices at galleries and alternative art spaces located in different neighborhoods throughout the city.
The organizing force behind CITYWIDE is a group of like-minded, independent art groups currently active in the emerging artist scene of Philadelphia. Organizing participants of CITYWIDE include: Vox Populi, Space 1026, Grizzly Grizzly, NAPOLEON, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Fjord, Marginal Utility, Practice, Little Berlin, Mt. Airy Contemporary Artists Space, Rebekah Templeton, Basekamp, and McCartney/Belknap Projects
Pennsylvania Girlchoir, member-choir of Commonwealth Youthchoirs: Major Choral Event Empowers Girls Through Music
Creating a new opportunity for choristers from Pennsylvania Girlchoir to collaborate with students from across Philadelphia, Girls Empowered Through Music will bring together more than 350 girls in grades seven to 12 for shared connection and intensive music-making in a festival weekend that culminates in a public performance at a major Philadelphia cultural venue. The project, the choir’s creative answer to activist Eve Ensler’s call to girls to “be their authentic selves,” gives young female singers the affirming experience of learning and performing repertoire written and conducted by women.
Under the direction of Music Director Vincent Metallo, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir maintains a repertoire steeped in the classical tradition and enhanced by music from many cultures and time periods. Established in 2004, Pennsylvania Girlchoir has sung with the region’s most distinguished ensembles and received critical acclaim. Pennsylvania Girlchoir is a member choir of Commonwealth Youthchoirs under the leadership of Executive Director Susan Ashbaker.
Dance/USA Philadelphia: Live Dance Takes Spotlight in Public Pop-Up Performance
To raise the visibility of live dance, Dance/USA Philadelphia will create a pop-up studio in a highly visible public space where companies will rehearse during a month-long exhibition planned for 2014. With trained docents on hand, passers-by can engage in casual conversation about what they see as they watch and listen to the rehearsal process through glass windows. Organizers expect more than 15,000 people to encounter the project, enabling new audiences to be captivated by the breadth and diversity of dance being made in Philadelphia.
Founded in 2007 as a branch office of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, Dance/USA Philadelphia provides advocacy, resources, and collaborative opportunities for the dance community in Greater Philadelphia. Director Lois Welk is committed to maintaining a high level of responsiveness, keeping services available at little or no charge, and to programming that is inclusive in terms of dance genre and budget size.
David Guinn: Temporary Outdoor Wall Installations Spark Dialogue
Freewall is a new, artist-run venue that brings temporary outdoor wall-painting installations to Center City Philadelphia as a way to engage the public in a dialogue about art. The 55-by-28-foot wall at 1214 Sansom St. operates like a gallery dedicated to site-specific, public artwork, allowing artists to extend their studio practice in a public context and at an architectural scale. Artists are given wide latitude to pursue their vision in public, free from external requirements. Challenge funding will provide a stipend to the artists, pay for materials and equipment, and allow for documenting the work from inception to completion.
A graduate of Columbia University, David Guinn is a Philadelphia-based artist specializing in large-scale wall paintings. Since 1998, Guinn has painted more than 30 projects throughout Philadelphia and other cities in North America including New York, Washington, D.C. and Montréal. His work has been widely noted in the media, both locally and internationally. In 2012, Guinn founded Freewall, an outdoor space in Center City Philadelphia dedicated to promoting innovative wall-based artwork and advancing the dialog around public art. Guinn teaches mural painting at Moore College of Art and Design.
Dolce Suono Ensemble: Chamber Ensemble Brings Classical Music to Latino Communities
To weave more music into Philadelphia’s Latino communities, Dolce Suono Ensemble will partner with community organizations to offer high-quality chamber music and education to Spanish-speaking people of all ages. The ensemble will travel to community centers to offer performances, conversations and informal open mic sessions, as well as instrument “petting zoos” where attendees can try instruments with the guidance of musicians. The program will culminate in a workshop and side-by-side performance with all-star guest composer Tania León, the first Latina composer to receive a Grammy nomination. The ensemble also will commission León to write a new work based on a Latin American myth.
Dolce Suono Ensemble has been dazzling audiences and invigorating the music world since its founding by flutist and Artistic Director Mimi Stillman in 2005. The ensemble presents chamber music concerts on its home series in Philadelphia, performs on tour, commissions important new works, makes recordings, and engages in educational outreach with Philadelphia communities. Called an “adventurous ensemble” in The New York Times, the ensemble’s active commissioning program has led to 31 world premieres in eight seasons.
Drexel ExCITe Center: Technology-Enhanced Live Music Provides a Feast for the Sense
The Drexel University ExCITe Center, which focuses on the intersection of art and technology, will launch a series of live music concerts that employ new media technologies, such as projected visuals and mobile apps, to better engage audiences. Working with prominent national and local artists, these performances will span multiple genres — pop/rock, jazz and classical. The aim of this project is to demonstrate that real-time interactive visualizations can improve the concert experience, better inform listeners, and attract new audiences to a wide range of musical forms and styles.
The Expressive & Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center is a strategic initiative of Drexel University to foster highly multidisciplinary research and education activities spanning all academic units. Efforts focus on the intersection of art and technology, as the center believes the arts inspire innovation, but also that artistic work increasingly depends upon a fundamental understanding of technology. The Center opened its new 11,000-square-foot space on Drexel’s campus earlier this year.
Ernest Stuart: Center City Jazz Festival Expands to Reach New Audiences
To increase audiences for jazz, the new Center City Jazz Festival will expand in to add a second day and include new venues. The festival focuses on presenting new, live jazz at venues big and small in Center City Philadelphia. Challenge funding will also help the festival set aside free tickets for students and provide performances at a local high school.
The Center City Jazz Festival was funded in 2012 through a Kickstarter campaign, during which $17,200 was raised from 188 individual contributions. The day-long festival debuted last April and featured 17 original bands from the Philadelphia and New York City areas. The bands performed in four packed venues all centrally located and within a short walking distance of each other.
FringeArts: Utopic Floating Structure on the Delaware Suggests Bold Environmental Future
FringeArts will commission artist Mary Mattingly to ignite imaginations about a sustainable future by creating a large and visually stunning utopic floating structure called WetLand. A participatory art project, WetLand will be a water-based ecosystem replete with solar panels, gardens and housing, erected on a floating barge docked along the Delaware River. Creating an island-like environment, WetLand will be an educational space that visitors can board and explore, stirring thoughts about water usage and the environment.
Since 1997, FringeArts, formerly known as Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, has explored the boundaries of art by bringing the newest, most cutting edge and highest quality performances to Philadelphia from around the world, as well as commissioning new public art works. Its lab program nurtures the development of local artists through residency programs, performance opportunities and more. Each September, FringeArts presents an annual citywide festival, featuring renowned and emerging artists. Beginning in fall 2013, FringeArts will present national and international artists year-round at its dedicated new state-of-the-art facility on the Delaware River waterfront in Old City.
Inta: Choreographers Mount Living Installations in Two Well-Known Public Spaces
As part of a year-long residency at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, artists Eiko & Koma will mount two “living installations”/outdoor performances in two well-known Philadelphia public spaces: the Spur of the Reading Viaduct (April 2014) and the academy’s Lenfest Plaza (September 2014.) Recipients of a MacArthur Genius Award, dancers/choreographers Eiko & Koma are known for their bold, highly theatrical performances in outdoor sites, theaters and museums. The projected yearlong academy residency will include community workshops, installations, seminars, public dialogues and gallery performances, followed by outdoor performances and public activities such as a viaduct field trip to explore the unexpectedly diverse flora and fauna of a currently unused city space.
Eiko and Koma began working together as an experiment in their native Japan, and their collaboration has endured for over 40 years. After studies in Germany and the Netherlands, they settled in America in 1976. Since then, they have presented their stage, gallery, site and media works across North America and the world. Much honored for the originality and intensity of their peerless theater-making, their accolades include a joint MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, designation as United States Artists, two “Bessies” and the Dance Magazine award. Most recently, they were each named Doris Duke Artists.
Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble: Audience Members Become Performers in New African Dance Work
While Kùlú Mèlé’s African dance shows are already known for getting audiences to dance in the aisles, challenge funding will allow audience members to actually perform onstage with company dancers. The project will include master classes in West African, Afro-Cuban and urban contemporary dance for up to 120 dance enthusiasts. Through open auditions, up to 15 members of the public will be selected to rehearse and perform a new work choreographed by Emmy Award-nominated choreographer Jeffrey Page, known for blending traditional African dance with hip-hop, funk and soul. He will also lead the urban contemporary dance master class, and company members will conduct workshops for students at five local schools.
Founded in 1969, Kùlú Mèlé is known for infusing African dance with urban American flair. The company has graced stages from New York to Guinea, distinguishing itself with beautiful costumes, a thrilling percussion battery and dynamic choreography. Kùlú Mèlé performs extensively throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, yet remains deeply rooted in the Philadelphia community. Its programs for youth include the Omo Kùlú Mèlé children’s ensemble and afterschool program. The company also produces an annual performance season and hosts master classes with guest artists.
Lee Ann Etzold: Theatrical Performance Brings Together Two South Philly Neighborhoods
While the Point Breeze and Newbold neighborhoods border each other, residents often feel miles apart. To bring the communities together, the Point Bold Neighborhood Project will engage artists from both areas in creating a theatrical event inspired by true neighborhood stories, addressing neighborhood issues, and written and performed by the community. The project will build an ensemble of artistic neighbors (not just professionals) to collect personal and community histories, as well as impressions of the neighborhoods’ past, present and future. The performance will be presented in a springtime extravaganza that leads the audience from the auditorium of G.W. Childs Elementary School to the adjacent Love Garden for a celebratory dance party.
Lee Ann Etzold is a Philadelphia-based theater artist who has created original works in the United Kingdom, France, Czech Republic and regionally in the United States. She co-founded New Paradise Laboratories and has created original physical theater works with Bill Irwin, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Headlong Dance Theatre, Brat Productions and Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. She studied theater at Virginia Tech, clown in Paris and received fellowships from the Independence Foundation and the Live Arts Brewery. She was selected for the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and the Young Vic Directors Program in London.
Opera Philadelphia: Immersive Opera Experience Begins in the Balkans
To offer a more immersive experience, Opera Philadelphia will launch Opera in the City, where each year the company will match an opera geared at nontraditional, diverse audiences with an equally unorthodox site within the city. The series will launch in fall 2013 with a challenge-funded production of Ana Sokolovic’s Svadba – Wedding, in collaboration with Fringe Arts. Svadba is a Serbian, a cappella opera fusing operatic and folk music and telling the story of Milica, a bride-to-be, and her five friends on the night before her wedding. The 50-minute production will offer the audience an immersive operatic experience followed by an authentic Balkan wedding feast for the entire audience featuring a local Balkan orchestra.
Opera Philadelphia creates outstanding productions of both classic and new operatic works that resonate within the community, assembles the finest international creative artists, and presents programming that educates, deepens, and diversifies the opera audience in Philadelphia and beyond. Performance offerings include large-scale works at the historic Academy of Music, intimate chamber operas as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater, and frequent community performances that focus on creative partnerships and enhanced accessibility.
Pasion y Arte Flamenco: Festival Celebrates Contemporary Flamenco Pioneers
To celebrate the contributions of Flamenco, the all-female dance company Pasion y Arte seeks to expand its festival in 2014, partnering with Drexel University for a two-week event featuring open workshops, an educational symposium, film screenings and eight performances. Preceded by a one-month residency with innovative Spanish Flamenco artist Rosario Toledo, the festival will showcase her work as well as showcasing Flamenco Nuevo: The Galvan Legacy featuring performances by Pastora Galvan and Flamenco giant Israel Galvan. Through the festival, Pasion y Arte seeks to celebrate contemporary pioneers, explore a unique vision of Flamenco that merges traditional and modern aesthetics and engage new communities in the city’s cultural landscape.
Pasion y Arte is an all-female flamenco dance company that treasures the traditions of classical flamenco while also seeking to expand the art form in new and modern ways. Pasion y Arte and its Artistic Director Elba Hevia y Vaca present new and commissioned works that draw upon mastery and respect for flamenco dance, cante and palos while experimentally incorporating elements of other dance forms, music genres, multimedia and narrative storytelling. In this manner, Pasion y Arte investigates the trajectory of modernization and change in 21st century flamenco, with a special emphasis on the empowerment of women.
Philadelphia Film Society: Newly-Restored Theater Hosts Local Film Screenings
To provide students and local filmmakers the opportunity to share their work, the Philadelphia Film Society will host monthly community screenings at its new home at the Theater at the Roxy. While technological advancements have made the production of films more accessible than ever to all levels of filmmakers, avenues to exhibit their works remain limited. Exhibition is particularly difficult in Philadelphia due to the lack of movie theaters, which inhibits the ability to experience a diverse selection of movies. The society hopes to foster greater creativity through film by providing filmmakers of all ages, levels and backgrounds a venue to showcase their work and elicit audience feedback, using the Theater at the Roxy as a hub for the Philadelphia filmmaking community.
The Philadelphia Film Society’s mission is to utilize film’s unique capacity to engage a broad cross-section of the community, while further providing access to powerful films from around the world in order to increase education and understanding. It does so by annually producing a top-tier film festival featuring the best of American and International cinema. It also offers unique and varied programming throughout the year that furthers the awareness of film as an important form of artistic expression and instrument of cultural change. The society will further accomplish its mission through the operation of the Theater at the Roxy beginning in 2013.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Performing Arts Office: After-School Programs Let Students Take Center Stage
Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation will create a pilot program to explore the best ways to expand its after-school offerings in dance, music and theater. With challenge funding, two experienced performing arts teachers will participate in two-month residencies at six recreation centers, providing structured lessons culminating in a presentation for friends and families. Children who develop a strong interest in the arts will be referred to the city’s performing arts camp. After evaluating the success of the pilot, the city plans to expand performing arts programming throughout the parks system.
The Performing Arts Office of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation strives to coordinate, promote, and expand cultural programs for the city of Philadelphia. Through our various programs, we provide cultural activity in which youth and adults of various backgrounds can interact through creative expression. The office currently has 63 recreation facilities with dance programs and 18 recreation facilities with drama and musical theater programs. The Young Performers Theater Camp and the Introduction to Performing Arts Camps are award-winning programs and are among the largest performing arts camps in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center: Exhibitions Zoom In on New Approaches to Photography
To cultivate new audiences for contemporary photography, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center will present four multidisciplinary exhibitions that will take photography past the gallery walls to become an immersive experience. For example, for the fourth annual Philly Photo Day, not only will the center invite Philadelphians to take a photograph within the city limits and hang each print, the center will also select 40 works to be blown up and shown on billboards. The center will also produce 20 digital photographic murals in conjunction with community centers and the city’s Mural Arts Program. For another exhibition, photographer Blake Carrington will produce images created in Philadelphia using custom software to translate audio recordings into visual data. Carrington will focus on re-imagining portions of the city, questioning ownership and the ways people perceive their relationship to natural and built spaces. Two additional shows will feature performance artists who use photography and conceptual artists who use nontraditional approaches to portraiture.
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is a community hub for contemporary photography. Devoted to the study, practice and appreciation of photography, the center organizes innovative exhibitions, inspiring artist lectures, diverse educational offerings, and affordable access to high-end digital equipment. Founded in 2009, the center quickly became the region’s premier resource for photographers and enthusiasts alike, and has flourished through its efforts towards outreach and community involvement. The center is committed to taking photography past the gallery walls and into the city and to fostering the creative impetus in all those willing to take a picture.
Philadelphia Theatre Company: New Theatrical Work Investigates School-to-Prison Pipeline
To create a conversation around important issues of youth in the criminal justice system, challenge funding will support the two-year residency of actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith as she creates a new work. The piece, called “The Pipeline Project,” will address the problem of the increasing number of youngsters being shuttled from school into the criminal justice system. During her 2013-15 residency at the company, Smith, a MacArthur Award-winning playwright, actor and educator, will conduct in-depth interviews with advocates, teachers, parents and law enforcement officers involved in the school-to-prison pipeline in order to investigate how Philadelphia is faring in its most vulnerable communities. The project will have a staged reading to bring members of the community together to find new ways of mobilizing around the issue followed by a workshop and full production in the company’s 2014-15 season.
Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theater company whose mission is to produce, develop and present new and contemporary theater focused on the American experience that ignites the intellect and touches the soul. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Sara Garonzik since 1982, the company supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to many nationally recognized artists. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, the company’s home on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts, has helped contribute to Center City’s revitalization.
Philadelphia Young Playwrights: Monologue Festival Puts a Spotlight on Student Voices
Philadelphia Young Playwrights and collaborating partner InterAct Theatre Company plan to expand the audience for their Young Voices Monologue Festival, a week of professionally performed monologues written by high school students from across the Philadelphia region. This public event is the culmination of a six-month process through which artists teach the craft of monologue writing to hundreds of area students, helping them express their important and under-represented hopes, fears, dreams, points of view and observations. More than 400 monologues are submitted each year, of which 15 to 20 are selected for development and production at The Adrienne in Center City. With challenge funding, the festival will double the number of participating schools to 16, including urban and suburban, private, public and parochial, and schools for juvenile offenders and special needs populations. This expansion, and accompanying tour, will significantly increase the number and diversity of monologues submitted, as well as interest in attending the spring performances.
Philadelphia Young Playwrights believes that every young person has a voice worth hearing. Celebrating 25 years, Young Playwrights taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting and monologue workshops for 2,000-plus students in more than 60 classrooms throughout the region. More than 1,400 student playwrights each year submit their original plays and monologues to our annual festivals. Young Playwrights promotes literacy, creativity, problem solving, academic skills, motivation, self-empowerment and empathy for students with varying backgrounds and abilities in grades K-12. When students write about their lives, they are empowered to change them.
Pig Iron Theatre Company, with Dr. Dog: Indie Rockers and Indie Theatermakers Collaborate on Hybrid Opera Performance
The Obie and Barrymore Award-winning Pig Iron Theatre Company will work with one of Philadelphia’s highest-profile indie rock bands, Dr. Dog, to create a concert spectacle billed as a multimedia opera in the tradition of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” Combining the band’s music with Pig Iron’s adventurous performance style and live performers from Philadelphia’s contemporary dance and theater communities, this collaboration aims to revolutionize the experience of live rock music. The project will bring together two passionate but disparate groups of fans — both indie rock fans and indie theater lovers — to build a new audience for hybrid performance in Philadelphia and beyond.
Since its inception in 1995, Pig Iron Theatre Company has grown from a small, fringe performance troupe into one of the best-known groups of its kind on the East Coast. Over that time, they have created 27 original works, garnering praise from audiences, peers, and critics. The New York Times hailed Pig Iron as “one of the few groups successfully taking theatre in new directions.” Rather than beginning their work from a writer-proposed script, they start with an idea, a character, or a situation, and allow the ensemble to forge the piece through focused improvisation and discussion.
Play On, Philly!: After-School Music Program Cultivates Children’s Creative Skills
To cultivate students’ creative skills, Play On, Philly! will expand its after-school music education program to teach students to improvise, compose and record music while presenting public performances throughout the Philadelphia region. The program focuses on using music to build students’ academic and social skills by engaging them through musical instruction for three hours each weekday. Challenge funding will enable the program to expand, adding classes in composition, music production and technology, and jazz.
Play On, Philly! is an innovative education and social initiative that provides opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music. Inspired by the social development and music education program of Venezuela, El Sistema, Play On, Philly! seeks to enrich the lives of Philadelphia youth by providing daily musical instruction in communities that have little access to music education.
Reading Terminal Market: Pop-Up Performance Art Enriches Reading Terminal Market
With more than six million shoppers per year, the Reading Terminal Market is one of Philadelphia’s most visited sites, a popular venue for pop-up performances by organizations ranging from the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia to the Canadian circus troupe 7 Fingers. The market seeks to continue to weave the arts into visitors’ everyday lives by expanding its current programming and developing a more proactive approach to pop-up performances. This will include partnerships with some of the city’s performing arts organizations such as FringeArts and Dance/USA Philadelphia. The market will also expand its existing lunchtime performance series to more fully represent the city’s population and provide additional, free access to performing arts.
One of America’s largest and oldest public markets, the Reading Terminal Market serves as a public trust providing a venue for independent local businesses to showcase the Philadelphia region’s culinary bounty and cultural diversity. Housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building, the market offers an incredible selection of farm fresh produce, meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, confections, flowers, kitchenware, cookbooks, jewelry and crafts. The market is managed by a not-for-profit company as a tenant of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, which has owned the terminal since 1990.
Shakespeare in Clark Park: Participatory Shakespeare Performance Encourages Unique Audience Interactions
To engage audiences in new ways, Shakespeare in Clark Park will team up with Team Sunshine Performance Corporation to involve audiences in a summer 2014 performance based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV. The piece, “Your Prince and Mine,” will offer three avenues of participation: 1) a preshow happy hour/education session open to the public that prepares the audience for the performance; 2) the production of the play itself, which will include 3) an enormous battle scene in which community members will be part of a stylized spectacle that brings the play’s war into focus. Organizers hope the large-scale event provides a galvanizing opportunity for thousands to uniquely interact with live performance — and with each other.
Shakespeare in Clark Park is a theater company committed to presenting free, outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s plays, creating an annual summertime cultural event accessible to the Clark Park neighborhood and the greater Philadelphia area. A collaborative and experimental approach to classical work draws artists from the Philadelphia theater, music, clown, and improvisation communities to create the company’s signature style – clear, physically engaged storytelling anchored by top-notch original music and visual spectacle. Now in its eighth season, Shakespeare in Clark Park brings a diverse audience, numbering in the thousands, to one of the city’s most vibrant parks.
South Street Headhouse District: Seasonal Pop-Up Series Builds on Neighborhood Traditions
To bring more cultural vibrancy to the area, the South Street Headhouse District will produce a series of seasonal pop-up and street events that build on local traditions. The district is composed of more than 400 primarily small businesses with a legacy as a commercial corridor and artistic community. It welcomes more than 1 million visitors annually. The performance series seeks to continue to reinvigorate the district as a great place to eat, shop and stroll and to provide a venue for talent in Philadelphia.
The South Street Headhouse District is a historic commercial corridor and home to more than 400 unique businesses, including some of the region’s best restaurants, retailers, and services. The district is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Philadelphia, with a vibrant artistic heritage. The mission of the district is to create a thriving business area through physical improvements as well as marketing and promotional initiatives.
Sruti, The India Music and Dance Society
To bring Indian music to new audiences, the 26-year-old Sruti Music and Dance Society will hold a concert series geared toward a young, urban crowd. Indian music, much of which is improvised like jazz, is emerging as an area where traditional forms are now being treated to creative makeovers, and the series will play off that trend. Each concert will be held in a nontraditional venue in the city’s core and will be accompanied with post- or pre-show chat sessions and a community workshop.
Sruti, The India Music and Dance Society is a not-for-profit cultural presenting organization based in the Philadelphia area. The mission of Sruti is to promote Indian classical dance and music, to bring together the people of the Greater Delaware Valley who are interested in these arts, and to effectively serve their common interest. Sruti has been fulfilling this mission since 1986 with a group of dedicated volunteers. Sruti presents on an average about ten events a year, including music and dance performances and educational outreach programs.
Stacey Wilson: Philadelphia DJs Amplify Visual Art in Immersive Exhibition
To explore the connection between music and the visual arts, this project will commission the work of 15 prominent Philadelphia DJs, whose music will be the inspiration for artworks created by 15 local visual artists. The DJs will work in the musical genre of their choice, and the visual artists will receive the DJs’ music in a random selection. In the end, a dynamic exhibit will showcase each piece of art, each accompanied by iPods the viewer will listen to, immersing them in the experience and embarking on the same aural journey as the piece’s creator.
Stacey “Flygirrl” Wilson is a Jane of all trades. She’s a visual artist, graphic designer, event planner and promoter, creative director and project manager for various brands. Her background is extensive, ranging from managing nightclubs to planning private parties for Prince to being the owner of the longest running party in Philadelphia, Tastytreats. Her art has been featured on the walls of The Real World Philadelphia house and Half & Half and the pages of Jill Scott’s “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours.” The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Board also named Wilson a 2009 Philadelphia Creative Ambassador.
Swim Pony Performing Arts: Event Series Combine Arts Forms for Truly Multimedia Experience
What happens when you cross a string quartet with a comic book illustrator? Swim Pony Performing Arts wants to find out. In Cross-Pollination Philadelphia, Swim Pony will seek out artists interested in exploring how their work can be inspired and even transformed by other mediums and curate a series of unique cross-disciplinary events that combine the strengths of two or more art mediums into something new. A poetry reading could be transformed with a movement sequence that happens all around the listeners. A fiction writer might create a story that must be read with an original soundtrack playing in the background. By staging this series of unexpected collaborations, Swim Pony hopes to inspire artists and art audiences to break the mold of how they see their mediums and create opportunities for experiences no one has ever imagined.
Helmed by Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey, Swim Pony was founded in December of 2009 to give a name to the body of genre-defying work she creates with an ensemble of artists who live and work in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2010, the company premiered its critically acclaimed first work, SURVIVE! – a 22,000 square-foot, choose-your-own adventure installation exploring humanity and the universe. In 2012, Swim Pony received the Knight Arts Challenge award for “Outside the (Black) Box” to weave the arts into the community by presenting revamped versions of plays in nontraditional spaces.
Taller Puertorriqueño: Communities Come Together Through Latino Arts
To engage more audiences in the city’s Latino arts scene, Taller Puertorriqueño will organize a series of gallery exhibits and musical performances. The series, Getting to Know You (Conociéndote), continues Taller’s efforts to transform the community it serves into a cultural crossroads where people come together. Conociéndote will integrate five exhibition sites centering around three commissioned, multimedia and socially relevant outdoor art installations in and around its campus in an area known as El Centro de Oro (The Golden Center). School groups and afterschool students will tour the exhibits, and music and dance performances will enhance each event. Organizers hope the fresh, contemporary art will attract both Philadelphia’s Center City arts audience and local residents to bring economically, educationally and culturally disparate groups together.
Founded in 1974, Taller Puertorriqueño, (The Puerto Rican Workshop) works to fill the gap of Latino cultural programming in the Philadelphia region. Taller’s programs work at the nexus of arts, culture, human rights, and social advocacy to catalyze social change and community advancement. Taller’s education programs for at-risk inner city children and youth offer culturally based experiences to stimulate academic pursuits. Through its mostly free events, Taller strives to provide quality Latino arts and cultural programming to those who have little access, while reaching out to the community at large.
The Philly Pigeon: Local Poets Get New Opportunities Through Poetry Slams and Workshops
To bring poetry to a wider audience and support the development of more performance poets, The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam will expand its offerings of events and workshops. The Pigeon now hosts monthly slams that include workshops followed by competitions where local poets present original works in a variety of styles. With challenge funding, the Pigeon will expand the series to host additional workshops and mini-slams where artists can test out a new work in a smaller environment. The Pigeon also will expand its video series of slams that are available on YouTube and will soon run on local public access television. As a way to engage more young adults who grow too old for youth poetry programs, The Pigeon will also offer young poets free tickets to workshops and slams.
The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam is run by its co-founders and performance poets Alyesha “Ms.” Wise and Jacob Winterstein. The Pigeon hosts monthly workshops that are followed by a poetry slam, which is a friendly competition between poets judged by five members of the audience.
The Rotunda: Musicians Explore Sound in Local Architectural Treasure
While The Rotunda, a community venue recently placed on the city’s Register of Historic Places, offers 300 events per year in its performance room, a small but growing number of special projects occur in its 100-year-old Beaux Arts sanctuary. Through this project, organizers seek to turn that space into a musical instrument. Improvisational and experimental musicians will be invited for a three-month residency to create public performances that artfully use the sanctuary’s acoustics. Usually, venues adapt to the needs of the musicians; here, musicians will adapt to the acoustics and layout of this unorthodox site in which sound carries in unexpected ways and whispers can be heard from 100 feet away. Applicants don’t have to be skilled in traditional music – someone who wants to explore the sounds of bottles and cans will be as eligible as a violinist. The eight residents will participate in studio tours where the public can hear works in progress, in addition to three concerts at which they will perform solo and ensemble pieces.
The Rotunda is an arts and culture community venue fueled by the belief that the arts can catalyze social change as they lead to meaningful partnerships between disparate groups. More than 300 events are presented every year, including live music, film, spoken word, theater, art, dance, education, youth programs, and experimental genres. At its core, The Rotunda is a shared space and arts incubator fostering learning, enrichment, and community support while empowering the public to present and promote their work.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education: Public Art Serves the Environment and Educates Public
In an effort to address the city’s environmental issues, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and The Center for Emerging Visual Artists will launch an artist residency program that invites professional artists and environmental scientists to work together to create real solutions to threats to Philadelphia’s ecosystems. The program operates on three equal platforms: art creation, ecological restoration and public engagement. Four residencies will grant selected artists resources and space on the Schuylkill’s property to create “ecoventions”: public artworks, often permanent installations, that prevent or remediate environmental damage. The six-month, paid residencies will leverage the curiosity of both artists and scientists to produce new methods for exploration and discovery, in addition to new contemporary artworks.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education was founded in 1965 as the nation’s first urban environmental education organization. Its 365-acre sanctuary serves as a living laboratory to foster appreciation, deepen understanding, and encourage stewardship of the environment. The Center reaches over 15,000 Philadelphia-area residents each year with an array of educational programs, including standards-based programs for schoolchildren, continuing education for teachers, and a full calendar of events for the public. In 2010 the Center signed conservation easements with Natural Lands Trust, protecting in perpetuity the largest privately-owned tract of land within the Philadelphia city limits.
The Village of Arts and Humanities: Social Practice Artist Residencies Reflect on North Philadelphia Communities
To support emerging and mid-career artists, the Village Artist-in-Residence program will award yearlong residencies to exceptional artists seeking community based social practice for the investigation and execution of their work. In exchange for a commitment to create an original project that responds to, engages and/or reflects on the North Philadelphia community, the residents receive housing, a $10,000 stipend, access to extensive art-making facilities, a solo exhibition and a critical catalogue. The Village will partner with universities and museums to share resources and provide additional career-making opportunities such as lectures and workshops. For many artists, the program will be the first time they are able to fully devote themselves to their artistic practice.
The Village of Arts and Humanities supports the community’s voices and aspirations by providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. The Village inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that spark creativity, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage and respect the environment.
Theresa Rose: Artists and Restaurateurs Collaborate on Cutting-Edge Projects
To create connections between neighborhood restaurateurs and artists, Operation Food for Thought will produce cutting-edge art and food projects that respond to growing trends in contemporary art and emerging food culture. The project will commission internationally renowned artists to develop site-specific and content-relevant local food projects. Participating restaurants will be predominantly family run and reflect the neighborhood’s demographics. During the spring of 2015, each artist will present their project that may include artist-designed dinner events, menu additions and other collaborations with the restaurants.
Theresa Rose is the visual arts program director for FringeArts, as well as an artist and organizer. Rose previously served as public art project manager for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, having managed the city’s Percent for Art Program and produced Soil Kitchen, the city’s first temporary and participatory public art commission. She is also founder of Philly Stake, a micro-granting program for creative community engaging projects. While earning her master’s in fine arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she co-chaired the Visiting Artist Lecture Series.
Tyler School of Art, Temple University: University Students Celebrate Beloved African American Artist
To celebrate one of the community’s most beloved African-American artists, students from three universities will collaborate on exhibitions of the paintings, sculptures and photographs of Charles Searles. These three-month exhibitions will appear in two Philadelphia neighborhoods and will be preserved with a substantial catalogue introducing fresh perspectives on Searles (1937-2004), one of the first contemporary black artists to be nationally recognized by inclusion in the Whitney Museum of American Art. A series of events for the community, including a cross-disciplinary arts symposium with dance, performance poetry and discussion, will enhance the understanding of Searles’ vividly colorful and energetic art. Students from Temple University, La Salle University and Chestnut Hill College are expected to participate.
The Tyler School of Art educates, motivates and inspires students who will enter society as artists, architects, art historians, designers and educators with the highest aspirations for achievement, producing innovative work that is publicly presented and critically considered. Our objective is to promote cutting edge curriculum initiatives through a broad spectrum of philosophical and aesthetic approaches; foster interdisciplinary insights and collaborations promoting artistic and intellectual freedom, creativity and experimentation; promote dynamic interactions between artistic, critical, curatorial and scholarly practice; and interact with a broad spectrum of artists, scholars and communities in the exploration of art and its role in society.
WRTI: Radio Series Spotlights Classical and Jazz Artists
The Philadelphia region is rich with world-class jazz and classical musicians, whose talents reach only a fraction of their potential audience. WRTI will share the work of these established and emerging musicians with thousands in the region by recording 33 individual and ensemble performances in the studio and beyond. The audio recordings will be initially broadcast as one-hour specials on WRTI’s tri-state regional radio network. Individual pieces will then be added to WRTI’s music library to be aired during regular classical and jazz programming. In addition, to give audiences greater insight into these talented regional artists and enrich their understanding of the works, short-form (90 second) interview features will be broadcast on radio at regular intervals, with the full artist interviews available online. By connecting Philadelphia’s music makers to music lovers throughout the region, WRTI Music Makers Series will promote and celebrate Philadelphia.
The mission of WRTI public radio is to broadcast the very best classical music and jazz recordings, and produce innovative, entertaining, and informative content that enriches the daily lives of our audience and the cultural life of Philadelphia and the tri-state region.