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December 03, 2020

Philly arts organizations get $8 million in pandemic relief from Mellon, Penn Foundations

Funds will be distributed in chunks to various organizations

Art Donations
VPPhiladanco.original.png R. Kennedy/Visit Philadelphia™

Nearly 40 Philadelphia-based art organizations will receive parts of a major joint grant from the Andrew Mellon and William Penn Foundations.

Two prominent nonprofits donated $8 million in emergency funding to 37 local art organizations to ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic.

The Andrew W. Mellon and William Penn Foundations announced their donation earlier this week, saying the funds will be distributed in chunks of $50,000 to $400,000 to various organizations. 

Among the beneficiaries are the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Orchestra, FringeArts and PHILADANCO!, and community-serving organizations like the Asian Arts Initiative and Taller Puertoriqueño. 

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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the art scene, shuttering museums, theaters and events across the country for months. The city's latest COVID-19 restrictions will keep these locations closed at least until the end of the year. 

This economic strain could lead to permanent closures, the Penn Foundation said. The donations from both organizations will support these organizations with 12 months of immediate funding amid the shutdown.

"Nearly nine months into the pandemic, arts and culture organizations in this great city of Philadelphia, and around the country, are still grappling with extreme financial challenges," Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon foundation, said in the release. "We hope these grants not only help these organizations navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but also galvanize other funders to support the visionary artists and cultural leaders who are helping to illuminate our path forward from this prolonged global emergency."

Both organizations are long-time donors of the Philadelphia arts, but this is the first time they have partnered and matched each other's funding for a shared cause.

"We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation, a national funder, has recognized the strength of the Philadelphia arts sector as they match our relief support for arts and culture grantees," Janet Haas, Board Chair of the William Penn Foundation, said in the release. "Since the early months of the pandemic, we have witnessed the ways organizations have continued to serve their communities and adapt programming to the realities brought on by COVID-19. This group of organizations joins many that continue to serve the city and their communities in important ways."

The organizations that will receive the largest sum of funding include the Barnes Foundation, Kimmel Center, Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Ballet Association and the Philadelphia Orchestra Association.