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July 30, 2021

Illuminate the Arts awards $1,000 grants to nearly 600 Philadelphia artists

The program's outreach efforts targeted artists living in zip codes with high poverty rates

Arts & Culture Grants
Philly Arts Grants Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Nearly 600 Philadelphia-based artists and 55 art organizations are receiving grant funding through the Illuminate the Arts program.

The Illuminate the Arts program is sending $1,000 checks to 590 Philadelphia artists — many of them from underserved communities — to help them weather the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, 55 small- to medium-sized arts organizations are getting a slice of funding — anywhere from $2,800 to $10,000 — through the grant program. Altogether, more than $1 million is being awarded.

The grants are intended to support individual artists and art organizations that slip through the cracks of most other art initiatives. The funding came from the city's $25 million "New Normal" emergency pandemic recovery budget.

"Investing in artists, small businesses, and nonprofits, many of whom represent the diverse backgrounds of all Philadelphians, is crucial to our recovery from COVID-19," City Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, who spearheaded the effort with Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, told WHYY.

The program focused on diverse and underrepresented artists and art organizations, targeting artists in 24 ZIP codes with the highest poverty rates.

Lauren Rinaldi, an oil painter and mixed media specialist, was among the recipients. She said the $1,000 grant will help her start her next project. 

The organizations that received funding included AfterShock Fam, a nonprofit record label that helps artists "cultivate their passions and impact the world." The organization, founded in June 2020, already has given opportunities to more than 120 music producers and 50 visual artists. It received $6,800.

Another grant recipient, Ninth Planet, creates opportunities for people of color, women, queer and trans people in Philadelphia to make, perform and produce community-powered performances. The organization also received $6,800.

"We really focused on artists and arts organizations who supported and resided in Black and brown communities," Kelly Lee, executive director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, told WHYY. "Those were the communities that were most impacted by COVID."

The program was created by City Council earlier this year. An ordinance provided the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy with $1.3 million to fund Illuminate the Arts. 

A little more than $1 million went to the grants. The remaining $300,000 was earmarked to fund arts and culture organizations that had performances or events canceled by the pandemic. It also included $50,000 to fund a staffer to manage the funding. 

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