PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 19, 2022)—The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) announced its 2022 grants and fellowships today in support of cultural events and artistic work that will enliven and enrich the Philadelphia region and represent diverse identities, personal experiences, and historical narratives. The 42 awards total $9.5 million: $7.2 million in project funding, plus $1.4 million provided as unrestricted general operating support for the 30 local organizations receiving project grants, and $900,000 going to 12 Philadelphia-area artists as Pew Fellowships.
Many of the newly funded projects spotlight artists and communities of color, engaging with topics such as the rich history of social dance within Philadelphia’s Black communities, the contributions of Japanese artists working in the U.S. in the mid-20th century, and the cultural traditions and contemporary practices of Mexican artists and migrants. Several projects will bring creative work to public spaces and nontraditional venues such as a public park, a community recreation center, and a botanical garden, while others will investigate historical archives to illuminate lesser-known stories.
Following a pivot to pandemic recovery funding for arts and heritage organizations in 2021, these 2022 grants mark a return to the Center’s project support for public programs and events, while its fellowships for Philadelphia’s artists—awarded annually since 1992—remain in place.
“We are heartened to see such dynamic and thoughtful work coming from the Philadelphia region’s institutions and artists, even as the sector continues to cope with ongoing challenges resulting from the pandemic,” said Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director. “The local arts community remains deeply committed to serving audiences by offering resonant cultural experiences while evolving approaches to visitor services, health, and safety. The Center’s new grants affirm that the arts will continue to play a vital and necessary role in the civic life and economic success of our region.”
Following is a partial list of organizations and artists receiving awards and some of the topics this year’s grants will address. A full list of grantees and their awards is available at pewcenterarts.org/2022grants.
Project grants: This year’s grants to cultural institutions range from $75,000 to $300,000, plus an additional 20% in general operating support, bringing the maximum award to $360,000. The funded work will engage broad and varied audiences across the region through outdoor performances, public art installations, exhibitions in museum galleries and community spaces, films, and new music encompassing classical, jazz, hip-hop, traditional folk, and other genres.
Foregrounding artists and communities of color
- BlackStar Projects presents an outdoor performance series examining Philadelphia’s colonialist horticultural practices and the cultural significance of plants for Indigenous and Black people of the Americas, especially the Caribbean.
- Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia considers the contributions and lasting impacts of Japanese artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Fujiko Nakaya in an exhibition of film and video work made in the U.S. in the mid-20th century.
- Nueva Esperanza premieres a music theater work that traverses Mexico’s long history and contemplates national identity and the challenges of preserving languages and cultural traditions.
Energizing public and community spaces
- EgoPo Classic Theater brings a collaboration with two Indonesian theater companies to FDR Park in an open-air tent performance that crosses cultural borders and blends contemporary and traditional puppetry, dance, music, and theater.
- Mural Arts Philadelphia works with ceramist Roberto Lugo on a public art project exploring pottery, poverty, and representation in Lugo’s home community of Kensington.
- Philadelphia Contemporary celebrates the ways in which Black Philadelphians have choreographed freedom, community, and culture through social dance in a performance at a community recreation center staged as the scene of a house party.
Recovering artistic legacies
- Bowerbird illuminates an important but under-recognized multicultural event in an exhibition and live performances that revisit the Shiraz Arts Festival, which was held annually in Iran from 1967 to 1977.
- Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania surveys the six-decade career of Carl Cheng as the artist himself re-imagines his mixed-media work in a contemporary context, addressing issues such as climate change and discrimination against Asian Americans.
- The Philadelphia Orchestra performs the music of 20th-century Black composer William Grant Still, restoring the musical scores of his less commonly known pieces.
Reframing historical narratives
- Cliveden of the National Trust focuses on experiences of enslavement and servitude in its reinterpretation of the site’s history as a residence and location of the 1777 Revolutionary Battle of Germantown.
- Monument Lab reframes the history of America’s founding in a public art and history project that centers on the story of Robert Hemings, an enslaved valet who aided Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to draft the Declaration of Independence.
- Temple Contemporary invites three artists to investigate Temple University’s extensive archives and engage with local community members to explore the ways in which Black history and contemporary Black life are intertwined.
Pew Fellowships: This year’s Pew Fellows in the Arts are Philadelphia-area artists working in visual art, film, photography, literature, poetry, and multidisciplinary practices. In addition to an unrestricted award of $75,000, a fellowship includes focused professional advancement resources such as financial counseling and career development workshops. Among the Fellows are:
- Maia Chao, whose often playful and humorous work in performance, video, sculpture, and social practice invites collaborations with the public and reveals opportunities for cultural institutions to become more communal spaces.
- Denice Frohman, a poet and performer whose narrative and rhythmic work centers on cultural preservation, particularly that of her Puerto Rican heritage and queer communities.
- Odili Donald Odita, who uses color and patterns in abstract paintings, murals, and other public artworks that place African art and culture in dialogue with Western aesthetics.
- Asali Solomon, whose novels and short stories portray the lives of Black Philadelphians in a city contending with the transformational effects of gentrification.
About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and it engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. For more information, visit pewcenterarts.org.