The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Announces 2015 Grants for Philadelphia Artists and Organizations

Bob and Roberta Smith, Art Makes People Powerful (2013). Fabric with applique and embroidery. Courtesy of the artist and Pierogi Gallery.

Media Contact: Megan Wendell, 267.350.4961, mwendell@pcah.us

News Release

Grantee List

2015 Panelists

PHILADELPHIA – June 15, 2015 – The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) announced today its 2015 grants in support of the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists. Marking the Center’s 10th year of grantmaking, a total of more than $9.6 million will provide funding for 12 new Pew Fellowships, 34 Project grants, and three Advancement grants.

“Our 2015 grantees exemplify the diverse and dynamic cultural life of our region,” said Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director. “As we reflect on the past 10 years of grantmaking in this vibrant community, we also look forward to the extraordinary cultural experiences this talented and ambitious group of artists and organizations will bring to Greater Philadelphia’s audiences.”

Following is a partial list of artists, projects, and organizations receiving awards. A full list of grantees is available here.

Pew Fellowships—provide awards of $75,000 each. This year’s Fellows range from playwrights and poets, to visual artists and filmmakers, to composers and choreographers. Among them:

  • Merián Soto, whose 40-year career investigating the living body through dance and performance spans from New York’s Latino dance movement of the 1980s and 90s to current-day Philadelphia’s theaters, museums, and public parks;

  • Chris Madak, a prolific musician and composer who bridges post-industrial drone and contemporary experimental electronic music;

  • Rea Tajiri, a filmmaker whose work straddles the boundary between documentary and art film, and employs an innovative, personal approach to storytelling;

  • James Ijames, a playwright whose works investigate class, race, and gender, and challenge the conventions of realism and received collective truth.

Project Grants for Events, Exhibitions, and Performances—awarded in amounts up to $300,000, plus an additional percentage for general operating costs. Project grants are designed to support the presentation of exceptional cultural programs and experiences by Philadelphia-area artists and organizations for a wide range of audiences. This year’s list includes:

  • Cross-cultural projects that bring international artists to Philadelphia communities, including a work that blends Russian folktales, South African music and puppetry, and a performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts; a residency for acclaimed French choreographer Boris Charmatz, hosted by Drexel University’s Westphal College, to work with Philadelphia dancers and to present Levée des conflits; and the Association for Public Art’s pedicycle-inspired sculptures by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, to be set in motion on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway;

  • World-premiere commissions and performances, such as Opera Philadelphia’s chamber opera, based on the film Breaking the Waves, by composer-in-residence Missy Mazzoli; the Nat King Cole Project at People’s Light; and the Afro-Cuban rhythms of percussionist Pablo Batista’s El Viaje (The Journey);

  • Historical interpretation projects that shed new light on the region’s history, including a contrasting look at domestic life in two centuries, revealed through the exploration of two kitchens at Cliveden of the National Trust for Historical Preservation; and Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust’s re-examination of the stories, themes, and Quaker history surrounding the Arch Street Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark;

  • Programs that engage local communities in artistic activities and installations, such as Hank Willis Thomas: Philadelphia Block Project at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center; residencies for West African artists working in collaboration with north central Philadelphia families at The Village of Arts and Humanities; and the Kimmel Center’s Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, from MacArthur Fellow and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, illuminating the stories of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans;

  • A spectrum of lively projects from 12 first-time Center grant recipients, including composer Lembit Beecher, Fund for the Water Works, choreographer Jungwoong Kim, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency).

Advancement Grants—multiyear investments of up to $500,000, designed to support bold initiatives led by exemplary arts and culture organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region:

  • Curtis Institute of Music, to implement a new curriculum that provides graduates with the entrepreneurial and business skills necessary to pursue careers as 21st-century classical musicians;

  • Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, to respond to evolving audience behaviors by developing new business models and marketing strategies;

  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art, to expand programmatic offerings and build new audiences through an extensive project centered on historic and contemporary African art, including residencies and commissions of new works for prominent African artists and a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.


Photos are available upon request.


Grants & Grantees

Over her 40-year career in performance, Merián Soto (Pew Fellow, 2015) has focused on investigating the living body and its relationship to consciousness. Her conceptual and process-based pieces work towards, in the artist’s words, “a dance of the future, a dance of healing, transformation, and transcendence.”

Located in Independence National Historical Park, the Independence Visitor Center is the official visitor center of Philadelphia and the region and is the primary point of orientation for Independence National Historical Park, the City of Philadelphia, and the Southern New Jersey and Delaware River Waterfronts, as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania.

The Village of Arts and Humanities supports the voices and aspirations of the community and inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that encompass arts and culture, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage, and respect the environment.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in Philadelphia in 1980, Piffaro performs 15th- through 17th-century music.

Grants & Grantees

Daniel Heyman’s (Pew Fellow, 2009) works on paper capture the images and words of Iraqi torture victims from facilities like Abu Ghraib.

Grants & Grantees

Trisha Brown: In the New Body will offer a retrospective of selected dances by Brown, an internationally known leader of post-modernism and an enduring renegade whose work has rarely been seen in Philadelphia.

Questions of Practice

The final article in the American Impresario series features Claire Chase of the International Contemporary Ensemble, which has been described by the New York Times as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music.”

Collaborators & Colleagues

Christophe Cherix is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Wendy Perron discusses Trisha Brown’s fascination with “wanting to see the body horizontal in space.”

Grants & Grantees

An immersive, participatory vocal performance, developed from the sounds, stories, and movements of individual bodies, will place audiences amidst performers, creating an intimate experience of group voice.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews the first major retrospective for Evans, a Bucks County, Pennsylvania artist and “imaginative dynamo” who created sculpted bronze-art furniture.

Grants & Grantees

In 1992 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 visual arts, dance, and music artists in the greater Philadelphia region, including Odean Pope and Judith Schaechter.