What’s New and What’s Next: Center-Funded Projects in 2017

1/5: Wall installation of broken instruments from Philadelphia schools, Temple Contemporary. Photo by Haley Adair.
2/5: Soap Opera, HARIBO, 2016, Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo by Christopher Andrew McDonald.
3/5: Eiko Otake in performance. Photo courtesy of Headlong and Philadelphia Contemporary.
4/5: From neuroscience and blood transfusions to hypnotism and phonograph recordings, Stoker’s Dracula is as much a chronicle of scientific, medical, and technological advances as it is the tale of the monster that threatens it all. Courtesy of The Rosenbach.
5/5: Sincerely Philadelphia: A Letter to Our New President, presented by WHYY and First Person Arts. Photo by Johanna Austin.

The New Year will bring ambitious and innovative Center-funded projects to the Philadelphia region that will inspire audiences and push the boundaries of artistic discovery and expression. These exhibitions, performances, and public programs will engage the city through site-specific experiences, weave the community’s voices into artistic narratives, re-interpret history for today’s audiences, and more. We’ve rounded up a sampling of what’s on the horizon in 2017.

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Soap Opera, HARIBO, 2016, Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo by Christopher Andrew McDonald.

Pushing Performance Boundaries

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art’s Endless Shout, an exploration of performance and improvisation inside a museum, will continue with performances and interactive programs by dancer and scholar Danielle Goldman, choreographer taisha paggett, poet Fred Moten, and artist collective The Otolith Group. (Through March)

  • The Wilma Theater will premiere artistic director Blanka Zizka’s first play, Adapt!, inviting audiences to consider the immigrant experience and questions surrounding identity, homeland and exile, and the compromises of adulthood. (March 22—April 22)

  • Composer Lembit Beecher will create To Hide in a Tree of Sound, a multidisciplinary chamber opera that features a mechanical, electronic sound-generating sculpture that grows from a small music box into a seven-foot tall object as the performance unfolds. (September)

  • Pig Iron Theatre Company will present A Period of Animate Existence, a symphonic theater hybrid for actors, classical musicians, and intergenerational choirs that will offer a meditation on life and planetary cycles, set in a time of rapid ecological and technological changes. (September)

  • Playwright MJ Kaufman will debut the play Destiny Estimate, an experiment in narrative structure that combines several forms of storytelling, physical language, and a cappella choral music to investigate questions of prophecy, fate, and predestination. (October)


Eiko Otake in performance. Photo courtesy of Headlong and Philadelphia Contemporary.

Engaging the City as Subject

  • Headlong will continue The Quiet Circus, a 15-month-long series of participatory performances at Washington Avenue Green, a one-acre site on the Delaware River waterfront that served as the entry point to Philadelphia for immigrants in the early 20th century. (January—November)

  • The Barnes Foundation will present Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie, a multi-part project, including a gallery exhibition, newly commissioned public installations, and citizen-created photos and videos, that will capture urban life in novel ways. (February 25—May 22)

  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art will engage Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk in Philadelphia Assembled, a project that reimagines Philadelphia’s changing landscape through a series of installations and public programs across the city. (April—December)

  • Artists Ai Weiwei, Zoe Strauss, Kara Crombie, Kaitlin Pomerantz, and Alexander Rosenberg will create five temporary public artworks that explore the modern concept of a monument for Philadelphia for Monument Lab, presented by Mural Arts Philadelphia. (Fall)


From neuroscience and blood transfusions to hypnotism and phonograph recordings, Stoker’s Dracula is as much a chronicle of scientific, medical, and technological advances as it is the tale of the monster that threatens it all. Courtesy of The Rosenbach.

Interpreting History

Sincerely Philadelphia: A Letter to Our New President, presented by WHYY and First Person Arts. Photo by Johanna Austin.

Amplifying Community Voices

  • Curator, community artist, and historian Erin Bernard will explore the lived experience of welfare through The History Truck W.I.C. Work/Shop, a mobile exhibition and series of public programs informed by first-person accounts of the Women, Infants, and Children (W.I.C.) nutritional assistance program. (Spring—Fall)

  • Temple Contemporary will commission Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a composition by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang for 1,500 broken instruments gathered from Philadelphia public schools, to be performed by a 600-member orchestra comprised of students, teachers, and professional and amateur musicians. (September—October)

  • Journalism and first-person storytelling will intersect in Commonspace, a multi-media project featuring a series of public radio broadcasts and podcasts, presented by WHYY in collaboration with First Person Arts. (October—December)



Collaborators & Colleagues

lê thị diễm thúy is a Vietnamese-American author, poet, and performance artist whose work explores the role of the body as the site of memory.

Grants & Grantees

Lecoq-trained theater artist and 2006 Pew Fellow Geoff Sobelle is dedicated to the sublime ridiculous.

Grants & Grantees

First Person Arts offers bi-monthly story slams, classes, and an annual festival dedicated to transforming real life into documentary art.

Collaborators & Colleagues

In addition to his work as a solo performer, Jaamil Kosoko is co-director of anonymous bodies and the founder and executive producing director of the Philadiction Movement in Philadelphia.

PRISM Quartet will premiere new works by Guggenheim Fellow Steven Mackey, Berlin prize recipient Ken Ueno, and Greek composer and conductor Stratis Minakakis, as part of Color Theory.

Grants & Grantees

Since 1980, Susan Hess Modern Dance has sought to grow the audience for contemporary dance and support independent dance artists in the Philadelphia community.

Grants & Grantees

“The pulsating energy that we get from drums have a way of connecting us to everything else in the universe,” says Nana Korantema Ayeboafo, a 2008 Pew Fellow.

LIVE REMIX is a three-part event guest curated by Tom Sellar, including a discussion with director Ivo van Hove, part of a series of programming related to the Center-funded performance of Ivo van Hove’s work After the Rehearsal/Persona.

Artist Barkley L. Hendricks suggests that whether or not an artist is deemed contemporary is really about who is doing the talking.

In August 2011, the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed Opera Philadelphia’s transformation as a “haven for new opera.”

Network for New Music hosts a talk with composer John Harbison.

Two Center-funded performance projects presented by FringeArts at the 2015 Fringe Festival—Available Light and After the Rehearsal/Persona—have gained positive reviews in The New York Times.