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Philadelphia Cultural Fund to Award $2.68M to 339 Arts Organizations Across the City

Friday, March 29, 2019

PHILADELPHIA—(March 26, 2019]—On March 26 and 27 at City Hall, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund will announce the recipients of its 2019 Art & Culture Grants. The awards total $2.68 million and will provide 339 organizations with operating funds. Resourced through the City budget, the Cultural Fund supports the largest and broadest community of arts and cultural organizations in Philadelphia. This year’s grantee list is the largest in its 28-year history and a 19 percent increase since 2016.

Recipients range from the small all-volunteer Lest We Forget Slavery Museum based in Germantown that utilizes its rare, authentic-period artifacts to educate and create awareness of the impact of  slavery and its continued effect on American society overall to the Franklin Institute, one of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. Forty-seven percent of grantees have budgets of less than $150,000; of those most have few, if any, paid staff. “In many cases, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund is literally the fuel keeping the lights on so that our most creative residents can do their best work,” said Philadelphia Cultural Fund executive director Barbara J. Silzle.

Twenty-eight organizations are first-time applicants. “Because we assist so many grassroots organizations, our grants help keep the ‘culture’ of culture growing in Philadelphia.”

Grant recipients are located in every City Council district. Those located in Council Districts 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 will attend the March 26 ceremony, and those in Districts 1, 4, 6, and 8 will attend on March 27. The Mayor, City Council members and other city officials will be in attendance.

“It’s the work of organizations like the Philadelphia Cultural Fund that helps distinguish Philadelphia as a place of diversity of expression and excitement,” Mayor Jim Kenney stated. “I’m proud that in addition to benefitting established Center City institutions, the City can meaningfully support arts and culture in neighborhoods from Mayfair to South Philadelphia and Cobbs Creek to Pennsport.”

At the March 26 ceremony, the Cultural Fund also will present the Councilman David Cohen Award for 2019 to PHILADANCO!, The Philadelphia Dance Company. The non-cash award recognizes an arts and culture organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to social and economic justice through its mission, programming, art-related work product, or services offered. “The power of the arts to bring people together is something I’ve seen in my district and across the city,” stated Council President Darrell L. Clarke. “The late David Cohen understood that well, and PHILADANCO! and its leader and national treasure Joan Myers Brown are such deserving recipients of this award.”

“I called my company The Philadelphia Dance Company – PHILADANCO! – because I wanted to represent my city to the world, but I’m so humbled to accept for this hometown award,” said Founder/Executive Artistic Director Joan Myers Brown.

At the March 27 event, the Cultural Fund will recognize Councilmember-at-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown for her long support of the arts and culture community though legislation and board and community service.

Community Impact is the most heavily weighted element of evaluating applicants. Cultural Fund grantees forge authentic ties with their communities through their programming; more than 50 percent serve Philadelphia’s pre-K and school-age children, both in and out of school. For example, Commonwealth Youth Choirs’ “Find Your Instrument” vocal arts program provides the only music program offered in several of its partner schools.

The 339 grants resulted from a peer review process, featuring review panels comprised of more than 110 volunteers of many arts professions, including artists, administrators, and educators. The panels evaluated and scored grant applications and conducted site visits. Applicants are encouraged to receive their panel’s anonymous feedback from Cultural Fund staff to strengthen the organization and their future grant applications.

“Besides the number of grants, the breadth of artforms and practices and the range of communities served demonstrate that the arts are thriving across Philadelphia,” noted Silzle. “I want to encourage everyone to further support these organizations with your actions. Go to that gallery, see that play or performance, take a class, volunteer and make a financial contribution. Part of what we at the Cultural Fund underwrite is making these experiences accessible. Make art and culture part of your life.”

CLICK HERE to see the full list of grant recipients.

About the Philadelphia Cultural Fund
Established in 1991 to support and enhance the cultural life and vitality of the City of Philadelphia and its residents, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, through the combined efforts of the Philadelphia City Council and the Mayor, promotes arts and culture as engines of social, educational and economic development and has played a key stabilizing role for numerous organizations by providing muchneeded general operating funding. Learn more at

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