Knight Foundation invests $1.48 million in the Philadelphia arts

PHILADELPHIA – June 24, 2015 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced it is investing $1.48 million in 22 Philadelphia arts groups. The recipients, both large institutions and small artist-driven organizations, will promote innovation in the arts and engaging audiences in new ways.

Related Links 

Meet 22 groups pushing artistic boundaries in Philadelphia ” by Victoria Rogers on Knight Blog, 6/24/2015

Creating Citizen-Artists with ArtistYear – by Alexandra von der Embse on Knight Blog, 6/24/2015

The funding will support a range of projects – from helping Curtis Institute grads become citizen artists through a year of service in schools, to showcasing the work of top photographers and helping the beloved Philadelphia Clef Club celebrate jazz musicians on its 20th anniversary.

In addition, the projects will:

  • Promote continued artistic development, with “The Wilma Hothouse,” a series of master classes at the Wilma Theater, and Artist U workshops that help artists develop a sustainable practice;
  • Inspire the next generation of artists, by introducing Philly teens to jobs in creative industries at a new career expo this fall, and helping high school musicians become mentors to K-8 students enrolled in Play On, Philly!
  • Celebrate Philadelphia’s many cultures through cross-genre performances with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, an Afro-Cuban dance performance and the BlackStar Film Festival;
  • Promote innovation through INVISIBLE RIVER, a site-specific performance that takes place around and in the Schuylkill River, and via collaboration between Opera Philadelphia and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret that explores Andy Warhol’s legacy.

“These 22 groups are pushing boundaries to create new art and experiences that authentically engage Philadelphia audiences,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.  “We’re excited by these fresh ideas and projects that we hope will touch people throughout Philadelphia’s many neighborhoods.”

The full list of grant recipients is below.

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture ($55,000): Presenting guest artists from different disciplines and genres to collaborate with Al-Bustan Tahkt Ensemble as part of the group’s concert series in Spring 2015-16.

Artists U ($25,000): Helping artists build a sustainable practice with advanced workshops on strategic planning, grant writing and more

BalletX ($100,000): Celebrating 10 years with a retrospective of BalletX works that culminates in a world premiere by renowned choreographer Kevin O’Day, in addition to presenting 10 pop-up performances around the city

BlackStar Film Festival ($50,000): Celebrating cinema focused on work by and about people of African descent by supporting the 2015 Black Star Film Festival

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program ($100,000): Bringing 14 internationally renowned contemporary artists to Philadelphia to create a new series of public artworks that explore the city’s urban identity

Curtis Institute of Music ($135,000): Expanding the ArtistYear fellowship, which embeds professional musicians in the community for a year of service in arts education

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance ($75,000): Engaging teens in the arts by expanding STAMP (Students at Museums in Philly), which offers youth free access to museums and cultural events, to include a rewards program that encourages repeat visits

Fresh Artists ($50,000): Inspiring Philly kids with “Cool Jobs,” a three-day career expo in fall 2015 introducing seventh graders to careers in the creative economy by working with successful working artists, designers and makers

Heidi Saman ($30,000): Raising Philadelphia’s profile as a hub for independent filmmaking by supporting the post-production and festival run of Knight Sundance Fellow Heidi Saman’s “Namour”

INVISIBLE RIVER 2015 ($25,000): Bringing attention to the Schuylkill River and the Philadelphia watershed through a free public art and boating festival that takes place in, on and above the river in Fairmount Park on Aug. 29

Kimmel Center ($150,000): Fostering artistic innovation by expanding the center’s “Underground Residencies” to include a new residency exploring the art of cabaret and jazz

Koresh Dance Company ($15,000): Showcasing Philadelphia’s top and emerging dance companies at the Come Together Dance Festival, which juxtaposes distinct styles by staging modern dance alongside tap, hip-hop, ballet and others  

Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble ($40,000): Celebrating Caribbean culture with “Danzas de Cuba,” an Afro-Cuban dance showcase and workshop series in celebration of Kulu Mele’s 45th anniversary in 2014

Opera Philadelphia ($150,000): Presenting in September, in collaboration with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, “ANDY: A Popera,” a genre-bending, site-specific cabaret opera inspired by the legacy, artistic process and fame of Andy Warhol

Pennsylvania Ballet Association ($10,000): Inspiring audiences with the company premiere of “Canvas,” a mix of classical and contemporary dance by renowned choreographer Larry Keigwin

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts ($25,000): Celebrating Philadelphia’s jazz legacy with a yearlong series of major jazz concerts and master classes, in honor of the Clef Club’s 20th anniversary, culminating in an event in November 2015

Philadelphia Fringe Festival ($100,000): Engaging Philadelphia with the 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, a forum for cutting-edge dance, theater, visual arts, music and spoken-word performances set in venues across the city.

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center ($50,000): Engaging the city with innovative contemporary photography exhibitions and workshops running through August 2015

Philadelphia Young Playwrights ($15,000): Sharing the voices of Philadelphia youth by capturing student-written monologues and playwright testimonials on video so they can increase exposure and create deeper conversations around topics facing the region

Play On, Philly! ($100,000): Supporting the launch of the POP Academy program this fall, which expands POP’s K-8 programming into high school to engage Play On graduates in mentoring younger musicians

Play On, Philly! ($25,000): Strengthening Play On, Philly! and other El Sistema-inspired music programs for youth by supporting the national El Sistema Symposium in Philadelphia earlier this year, in addition to knowledge-sharing and collaboration

The Wilma Theater ($60,000): Supporting talent development in Philadelphia’s theater community with “The Wilma Hothouse,”  a series of master classes and workshops led by internationally renowned theater instructors in movement, voice and other advanced techniques

Vox Populi ($100,000): Elevating this art space’s popular First Friday event by presenting the work of more than 150 local, national and international artists

For continuous updates on Knight Foundation’s arts program, connect on Facebook and via @KnightArts on Twitter.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Media Contacts:
Marika Lynch, communications consultant
Knight Foundation
(305) 908-2677
[email protected]