The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage announced a multi-million dollar windfall in fellowships and grants to 49 artists and arts groups in the greater Philadelphia area, underscoring ongoing efforts by local foundations to provide greater exposure to the city's burgeoning art scene.
The awards include 12 new Pew Fellowships of $60,000 each, 35 Project Grants in amounts up to $300,000, and two Advancement Grants of $500,000 each. The grants were awarded to a diverse array of local arts and cultural organizations, ranging from Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, which netted close to $250,000 to "explore the relationship between Arabic and European music," to the Asian Arts Initiative, which received $60,000 for "Home: A Community-Engaged Exhibition Planning Model," which will curate a "contemporary art exhibition on the concept of home and homelessness."
However, before we take a closer look at the other winners, we'd like to step back and look at this award through the lens of the city of Philadelphia itself. After all, the City of Brotherly Love irrefutably lacks both the size and philanthropic community of larger cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Fortunately, Philadelphia has something that most cities look at with envy, regardless of size: The city has incredibly dedicated foundations like the Pew Center that are committed to putting Philly on the national and international arts map. In fact, every major Philadelphia foundation has a significant budget for grantmaking in the arts, a rarity in an age where arts and culture grants are low on the funding totem pole.
Furthermore, Philadelphia foundations live by the adage "smaller is better," supporting relatively unknown organizations with small budgets rather than their larger nonprofit counterparts. Lastly, organizations within the Philadelphia metropolitan area stand a good chance of receiving funding, as foundations usually lump the greater Philadelphia area with the city proper.
The Pew Center's recent grants fit neatly into this paradigm. All of the gifts, of course, are devoted to expanding the arts. Many are internationally oriented as well and most are going to small organizations. The center also funded a number of organizations outside the city limits. Here are just a few of the winners:
Fringe Arts — Awarded $360,000 for the production of "After the Rehearsal/Persona," a film by acclaimed by acclaimed Dutch director Ivo van Hove. The screening marks the first time van Hove's work will be seen in Philadelphia.
The Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design — Awarded $240,000 for "Strange Currencies," an exhibition that will examine the history of the unorthodox, artist-run spaces that emerged in Mexico City in the 90s. The exhibition will include artwork that has never been shown outside Mexico.
Philadelphia Museum of Art — Awarded $300,000 for "South Asian Art: Experimentation, Interpretation, and Evaluation." For the first time since 1970, the museum will reinstall its eight galleries of South Asian art, which include close to 3,000 works spanning 2,500 years.