Questions of Practice: Kemi Ilesanmi of The Laundromat Project on the Role of Artists in Community Development

The influx of socially engaged work among today’s artists has brought about conversations surrounding artists’ roles and long-term investments in the communities in and for which they create art. Here, Kemi Ilesanmi of The Laundromat Project in New York talks about the importance of regarding artists, not as interlopers, but as “neighbors” and “citizens” who hold multiple roles in the communities in which they live and work.

Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, on the role of artists in community development. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on May 11, 2015.

Kemi Ilesanmi is the Executive Director of The Laundromat Project in New York, which brings art, artists, and arts programming into community spaces to amplify the creativity that already exists within communities. She has worked previously with Creative Capital Foundation, where she supported adventurous American artists, and the Walker Art Center, where she organized exhibitions and ran the visual arts residency program. In 2015, Ilesanmi served as a Center panelist in Exhibitions & Public Interpretation.

Congolese choreographer and dancer Faustin Linyekula discusses why he believes that theater is “a lab for how we live as citizens.”

Grants & Grantees

Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun is a textile artist and a 1996 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Catherine Hughes, who has written and presented widely on performance in museums, is project director of Meet the Past, a live interpretation initiative at the Atlanta History Center.

What do we do when we do not know all the facts? When we present history, we inevitably fill in the gaps, create the voices that spoke, the characters that lived. Historian Jane Kamensky, filmmaker and 1994 Pew Fellow Louis Massiah, and playwright Ain Gordon will lead a panel discussion about how historians and artists handle this predicament.

Supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Chester Cultural Corridor Initiative takes a novel approach to city planning, using theater and community dialogue to inform the revitalization of the Chester Cultural Corridor (C3) along Avenue of the States between City Hall and Widener University.

The Legacy Center at Drexel will take materials from their vast collection—formerly accessible to researchers and scholars only—and make them available online to new audiences.

Grants & Grantees

The company is dedicated to making critically important performance opportunities available to the current generation of opera and theatrical performers, designers, and directors.

Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia, a Center-supported public art and urban research project, continues in the courtyard of Philadelphia’s City Hall through this Sunday, June 7.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pianist Marilyn Nonken is known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression.

Grants & Grantees

Dave Burrell is a pianist and a 1996 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Temple Contemporary celebrated the life of a single row home before it was razed, in an effort to generate critical thinking, discussion, and action around issues of housing redevelopment and preservation in Philadelphia.

Commissioned by the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University with Center support, A Fierce Kind of Love is a new play by theater artists Suli Holum and David Bradley.