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

Founded in 2002 by two composers, Chamber Music Now provided the Philadelphia community with original concert productions.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s current playwriting project is a Center-funded commission for Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, based on Don Juan Returns from the War.

Grants & Grantees

A live and digital theatrical experience will question the impact of technology on human connectivity as two actors perform their roles on separate continents—one live in a theater and the other projected through a live-streaming video feed.

Collaborators & Colleagues

James Alan McPherson is the recipient of many national literary awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award.

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.”

One the first curators to radically re-think the contemporary art exhibition context, Siegelaub spoke with Gleadowe, a British art historian, prior to his passing in 2013 for a forthcoming book from the Center on structural innovation in exhibition-making.

This event features saxophonists/composers Mahanthappa and Lehman, and WNYC’s John Schaefer, as they address the unique challenges of collaborating across genres.

Lee is the publisher at Corollary Press and author of the poetry collections Underground National, That Gorgeous Feeling, and Solar Maximum, forthcoming from Futurepoem Press.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Sue Bell Yank is an arts organizer and writes about social practice in contemporary art.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Lisa Sonneborn’s documentary film and video work has been used to promote social action in the disability community.

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.

Grants & Grantees

Crossroads Music organizes public performances by accomplished musicians with roots in cultures from around the world.