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September 09, 2021

Pew Center's latest grants will boost digital offerings at Philly's cultural institutions

The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Orchestra and The National Constitution Center are among those receiving funding

Arts & Culture Grants
Pew Fellow Brett Ashley Robinson Courtesy/Ryan Collerd

Theater artist Brett Ashley Robinson was one of 12 individual artists awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's latest round of pandemic relief grants.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage awarded 42 grants to Philadelphia artists and cultural organizations, totaling $10.2 million, to help them recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Center typically awards project grants to public programs and events, but this year's Re:imagining Recovery grants are designed to stabilize the future of the arts sector. 

The arts and culture industry supports around 55,000 jobs in the Philadelphia area, generating $4.1 billion in economic activity, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. A report from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance found that about $372 million in revenue was lost between March 2020 and March 2021.

After the pandemic cancelled in-person events for over a year, many art organizations have moved to strengthen their digital presence, fund diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and upgrade facilities. 

"Artists and organizations have not only persevered in delivering their work to the public but are emerging from this period with new perspectives on how the arts can become more sustainable and relevant and play a key role in the resurgence of our region’s civic and economic vitality," said Paula Marincola, the Center's executive director. "These new grants support crucial work toward post-COVID recovery."

The Center awarded $9.3 million to 30 arts and cultural organizations through its Re:imagining Recovery grants. Individual organizations could receive up to $400,000. Collaborative projects were eligible for up to $800,000. Each grant included an additional 20% that could be used for general operating support, bringing the maximum single grant to $480,000.

The Barnes Foundation and Philadelphia Orchestra each received the maximum amount. The Mann Center for the Performing Arts and The National Constitution Center also received close to the maximum. 

The Barnes Foundation will use its grant to fund digital arts education courses for students and adults. The museum chose to expand its digital platforms after the success of online presentations during the pandemic. 

"Our move to online programs drew larger and more diverse audiences, as class size was no longer limited by building capacity or geographical distance," Executive Director Thom Collins said. "With this grant support, the Barnes now has a unique opportunity to take a bold and intentional move toward expanding our mission-related service, creating a new earned revenue model, and transforming approaches to online arts education."

Twelve artists received Pew Fellowships, which provide $75,000 awards, financial counseling and career-development workshops. That funding totaled $900,000.

Brett Ashley Robinson, a theater artist who received a fellowship, said her work is a combination of ensemble performance, drag burlesque culture, documentary theater and clowning.

"With the Pew Fellowship, I can facilitate collaborations with other Black theater makers to build radical theater centered around our own pleasure and curiosity," Robinson said. "I will also deepen my connection to Philadelphia while expanding my network of collaborators nationally and internationally."

Visual artist Mark Thomas Gibson, said his fellowship "will give me the space and time to work without restriction. As an artist, time, space, and peace of mind are essential to make major breakthroughs and take risks."

In May 2020, the Center awarded more than $535,000 in unrestricted funds to 23 artists and 39 organizations. Last October, it awarded more than $10.5 million to artists and organizations for in-person and digital programming.

Here is the full list of 2021 grant recipients:

Re:imagining Recovery grant recipients

• African American Museum in Philadelphia - $256,200
• Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture - $120,000
• Asian Arts Initiative - $276,000
• The Barnes Foundation - $480,000
• BlackStar Projects - $240,000
• The Clay Studio - $300,000
• Cliveden, Historic Germantown and Stenton - $540,000
• The College of Physicians’ Mütter Museum - $360,000
• Eastern State Penitentiary - $360,000
• The Fabric Workshop and Museum - $300,000
• FringeArts - $300,000
• Institute of Contemporary Art - $300,000
• Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia - $240,000
• Mural Arts Philadelphia - $438,000
• Mann Center for the Performing Arts - $479,556
• National Constitution Center - $477,424
• Opera Philadelphia - $453,000
• People’s Light - $360,000
• Pig Iron Theatre Company - $196,230
• Philadelphia Chamber Music Society - $300,000
• Philadelphia Folklore Project - $120,000
• Philadelphia Museum of Art - $360,000
• Philadelphia Orchestra - $480,000
• Philadelphia Theatre Company - $300,000
• Please Touch Museum - $318,200
• PRISM Quartet - $120,000
• Scribe Video Center - $240,000
• Theatre Horizon - $240,000
• Village of Arts and Humanities - $300,000
• Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation - $120,000

Pew Fellowship recipients 

• Emily Bate, composer and vocalist
• Kayleb Rae Candrilli, poet
• Angel Shanel Edwards, performance artist
• Rami George, visual artist
• Mark Thomas Gibson, visual artist
• Naomieh Jovin, photographer
• Rich Medina, DJ and interdisciplinary artist
• Brett Ashley Robinson, theater artist
• Kambel Smith, sculptor
• Didier William, visual artist
• Eva Wô, visual artist
• Rashid Zakat, filmmaker and artist

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