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.

Stay up to date year-round by viewing our events calendar or subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter.

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)



A number of projects from grantees and Pew Fellows have garnered extensive national and regional press coverage in recent weeks.

A celebration of African music featuring performances by Pew Fellow and Liberian singer Fatu Gayflor and the Refugee All Stars.

Composer Vijay Iyer on the musical lineage that influences his artistic practice.

Collaborators & Colleagues

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

Grants & Grantees

Recognized as one of the world’s leading conservatories, The Curtis Institute of Music (Curtis) was founded in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Curtis has educated and trained some of the most exceptionally gifted young musicians from around the world for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level.

Based on historical letters written by soldiers, the Rosenbach Museum & Library hosted an exhibition and program for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their families.

Pasión y Arte’s 2014 Flamenco Festival has come to an end, but the positive reviews keep pouring in. Recent media attention includes features in the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, and The New Yorker.

Grants & Grantees

Teresa Leo is a poet and a 2002 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

David Scott Kessler’s (Pew Fellow, 2015) work combines film, installation, writing, performance, and drawing in a constantly-shifting exploration of place.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Theater artist Alex Torra creates devised, experimental performances that combine theater, dance, and music.

The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia created a director of legal services position, which allowed them to offer greater legal services to artists and artistic organizations.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Claire Aguilar is the director of programming and industry engagement at Sheffield Doc/Fest, an international film festival that celebrates the art and business of documentary filmmaking.