The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Announces 2016 Grants for Philadelphia Artists, Organizations

The Reality of Manhood from Kyle Clark’s I Am The Road. Photo by Frank Bicking.

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A full list of grantees and project descriptions is available at

PHILADELPHIA – June 13, 2016 – The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) today announced 53 grants in support of the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists. The 2016 awards total more than $10 million and provide funding for 12 new Pew Fellowships, 36 Project grants, and 5 Advancement grants.

“The talented artists and dynamic organizations that make up our 2016 grantees will enhance the cultural life of the region with exciting new projects and rich artistic voices,” said Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director. “The Center has been privileged to fund work by an extraordinary constituency of practitioners—from major civic institutions, to independent artists and curators, to artist-driven and community-based organizations—for over a decade. We look forward to the outstanding cultural experiences our newest group of grantees will bring to our community.”

Following is a partial list of artists, projects, and organizations receiving awards.

Pew Fellowships—provide awards of $75,000 each. This year’s Fellows include artists working in the Philadelphia region in music, dance, theater, poetry, sound design, film, and interdisciplinary practices. Among them:

  • Andrea Clearfield, who has composed more than 125 works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, dance, and multimedia collaborations, exploring themes such as ancient cultures, freedom, religion, and technology;

  • Ryan Eckes, whose narrative-driven, closely observed poetry is uniquely attuned to the voices and histories of urban life;

  • Jennifer Kidwell, a theater artist whose highly researched work addresses the complexities of race and notions of American history with sharp intelligence and wry humor;

  • Heidi Saman, a filmmaker influenced by Italian neo-realism’s emphasis on working-class protagonists, whose own work examines cultural identity, family, class, and daily life among Arab Americans.

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 exceptional cultural programs and experiences presented by Philadelphia-area artists and organizations, for a wide range of audiences. This year’s list includes:

  • Projects that engage the city as subject, including The Barnes Foundation’s Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie, capturing city life through a contemporary exhibition and installations in unexpected locations; curator Brian PhillipsRowhouse Workshop, surveying the physical and social histories embedded in Philadelphia row homes; Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Monument Lab: A Citywide Public Art and History Exhibition with public artworks created by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Zoe Strauss; and Philadelphia Assembled, a museum installation and off-site interactive art experiences reimagining the city, presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and artist Jeanne van Heeswijk;

  • World-premiere commissions and performances, such as Temple Contemporary’s Symphony for a Broken Orchestra—a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang for 1,500 broken instruments gathered from Philadelphia public schools; The Wilma Theater’s Adapt!, the first play written by artistic director Blanka Zizka exploring the immigrant experience; and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s (Dis)placed: Explorations in Poetry, Art, and Music Composition with commissions from four artists of Arab heritage;

  • Projects into which the community’s voices and personal narratives are integrally woven, including a public radio broadcast series at the intersection of journalism and personal storytelling from WHYY, Inc. and First Person Arts; The History Truck W.I.C. Work/Shop, a mobile exhibition sharing the lived experience of welfare from curator Erin Bernard; and a “place-keeping” project to put Fleisher Art Memorial’s spaces and resources into the hands of Southeast Philadelphia community members;

  • A spectrum of lively projects from 11 first-time Center grant recipients: hip-hop choreographer and dancer Kyle “JustSole” Clark; EgoPo Classic Theater; visual art curator Kelsey Halliday Johnson; Jazz Bridge; South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA); and theater artist Alex Torra, among others.

Advancement Grants—multiyear investments designed to support bold initiatives led by exemplary arts and culture organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region. Among them:

  • Opera Philadelphia, to implement a new business and program model that will feature an annual season-opening, multi-venue festival, launching in fall 2017, supported by new marketing strategies and a broad range of performance offerings to draw audiences from both inside and outside the regional metropolitan area;

  • People’s Light, to conduct an in-depth market analysis and develop the company’s approach to diversifying its programs and revenue streams, attracting new audiences, and deepening relationships with existing audiences;

  • Please Touch Museum, to research and develop a new set of blended digital and hands-on exhibitions, education programs, and marketing and distribution strategies designed to expand the museum’s range of audiences, increase the frequency of visits, and enhance its programs for children ages 2 to 11 and their families.

Photos available upon request.

Grants & Grantees

The world premiere of a new chamber opera by composer-in-residence Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, inspired by the 1996 film by Danish auteur Lars von Trier, tells the harrowing tale of a naive newlywed who has chosen to marry outside of her strict Calvinist community in coastal Scotland.

Dance ethnologist and anthropologist Toni Shapiro-Phim traces the legacy of Cambodian dancer and teacher Pen Sokhuon against a backdrop of historical and political changes in Cambodia.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Bruce Altshuler directs the museum studies program in the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University.

Grants & Grantees

The Kimmel Center, Inc., best known as a presenting organization and home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Ballet, is one of the most well-attended cultural venues in Philadelphia.

Grants & Grantees

Syd Carpenter is a sculptor and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Richard Torchia talks about the importance of small details and the value that he places on the audience’s trust.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Actress Estelle Parsons has found success on stage, screen, and television, often playing characters who can best be described as fanatical or neurotic.

Grants & Grantees

The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is a nonprofit organization devoted to the study, practice, and appreciation of photography in the Philadelphia region.

Collaborators & Colleagues

James Voorhies is the John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University where he oversees a contemporary arts program dedicated to the synthesis of art, design, and education.

As part of their ongoing Center-funded project, Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge, Mural Arts and Cohabitation Strategies, along with guest curator Lucia Sanroman, host a lively community-organized celebration in South Philadelphia’s Mifflin Square.

A program of Philadelphia University, The Design Center presents exhibitions, tours, programs, college courses, and special events that demonstrate how design shapes everyday life.

Grants & Grantees

In 2006 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 73 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.