Philadelphia arts groups to lift diverse voices with $923,600 in funding from Knight Foundation – Knight Foundation

Philadelphia arts groups to lift diverse voices with $923,600 in funding from Knight Foundation

Eight organizations will bring high-quality programming to Philadelphia and its many neighborhoods

Photo courtesy of the Asian Arts Initiative. Photo by Andrew Tran.

PHILADELPHIA – March 7, 2018 – From diversifying arts board leadership to commissioning 25 Asian-American artists to create site-specific works, a range of projects from nine Philadelphia arts organizations will receive $923,600 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The groups are large and small, ranging from the Kimmel Center to the experimental performance group Swim Pony.

Many of the organizations lift the voices of the city’s cultural communities through high-quality arts experiences, like the Philadelphia Photo Art Center, which will expand its successful community programming with new Knight funding, and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, which is chronicling the history of cabaret as an art form.

“The arts bring us together like little else, helping to form those shared experiences that build community,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts. “These eight organizations are doing that by bringing high-quality programming to Philadelphia and its many neighborhoods.”

The organizations receiving funding include: 

  • Kimmel Center ($20,000) – Bringing the latest in contemporary performance to Philadelphia with the U.S. premiere of Asphalt Piloten’s Tape Riot, which pushes against traditional boundaries by infiltrating urban public spaces and delivering a totally unexpected and unique experience combining music, dance and graffiti.
  • Swim Pony Performing Arts ($31,200) – To support innovation in the arts by analyzing audience data from The End – a month-long performance piece experienced via text message – and finding ways to improve the piece.
  • Arts + Business Council ($25,000) – To diversify board leadership in the arts by providing scholarships for minority leaders to attend the Arts + Business Council’s Business On Board program, which teaches leadership skills, board governance and best practices, and then matches organizations with future board members.
  • Asian Art Initiative ($100,000) – To bring the work of contemporary Asian-American artists into the community by commissioning 25 of them to create new multimedia artworks based on the immigrant experience.
  • CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia ($22,400) – For the Past Present Project to present a site-responsive exhibition featuring artists Roberto Lugo and Leo Tecosky at the historic Hamilton Mansion at The Woodlands, using a piece of 19th century carved graffiti preserved at the site as a point of departure
  • University City Science Center ($50,000) – To reimagine connections between the arts and sciences fields by funding a residency at the Philadelphia Science Center that pairs professionals in both fields in the creation of new works.

In addition, three arts organizations will receive multiple-year funding to help expand their ability to provide high-quality programming:

  • Bearded Ladies Cabaret ($175,000) – To develop “The Poison Cookie,” an interactive website and performance piece on the role of the cabaret as art form, and to expand this performance ensembles’ programs for emerging artists and use of interactive technology to engage audiences.
  • Play on Philly ($250,000) – To foster artistic excellence in music education and develop more diverse orchestral talent through multi-year support of Philadelphia’s signature classical music training program for young artists of color.
  • Philadelphia Photo Arts Center ($250,000) – To increase access to contemporary art and photography by providing multi-year support for the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center to expand its community programs and curatorial work.

“These partners help to showcase Philadelphia as a world-class art and culture city. They demonstrate the power of art to connect people to place and each other,” said Patrick Morgan, Knight Foundation’s Philadelphia program director.

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,


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]

Leo Tecosky, Tughra, neon, 2016. The Woodlands, interior view, Photo by Ryan Collerd. Roberto Lugo, The Expulsion of Colin Kaepernick and John Brown, Porcelain, china paint, luster, 2017, Image courtesy of Wexler Gallery