PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation (The Sachs Program) at the University of Pennsylvania and the Paul Robeson House and Museum (PRHM) are thrilled to announce they have received a lead grant from the William Penn Foundation – $400,000 over 24 months – to launch a new collaboration to support West Philadelphia artists. The grant will support the creation of a West Philadelphia Community Arts Council. The Arts Council will distribute grants to community artists, organizers, and nonprofits. The council will also develop programming for the community and explore ways to collaborate with arts-based community initiatives and other community resources within Penn. The Paul Robeson House & Museum will also launch an Artist-In-Residence program for West Philadelphia artists.
The project has four key components:
- The West Philadelphia Arts Council, which is intended to establish ongoing dialogue about the resources needed to support arts and culture in West Philadelphia and to manage a sub-granting program that would directly support artists and arts activities within the community. A portion of the William Penn Foundation grant would support honoraria for the council members and cover any costs associated with their meetings.
- Arts Grants, which would provide direct support to community artists, organizers, and nonprofits for art projects and programming, with the idea that community members would have the agency and support to determine which projects and initiatives are granted resources within their own community. Grants will be distributed by the Paul Robeson House & Museum.
- Community Programming, which would come out of conversations between the Council, PRHM, and Penn Partners, focusing on the needs and desires of West Philadelphia community members to ensure the continued vibrancy of its arts and cultural community, leveraging resources from the University and integrating with existing Penn programs where appropriate.
- A new Artist-in-Residence program, which would enable the Paul Robeson House & Museum to invite Black artists from West Philadelphia to work in the apartment above the museum; engage with the content of the museum, which is important to the cultural fabric of West Philadelphia; and interact with the West Philadelphia creative community and the Penn community through a series of planned programs, dinners, convenings, and studio visits. It represents an opportunity for the museum to expand its role as a key hub for the arts in West Philadelphia and to ensure the connection between minorities through shared representations of the African diaspora.
“We are so grateful to receive this support,” said Janice Sykes-Ross, Executive Director of The Robeson House. “This collaboration allows us to deepen our commitment to creative expression, social justice, and the legacy of Paul Robeson through a direct investment in the artistic community of West Philadelphia.”
“We are thrilled to begin this critical work,” said John McInerney, Executive Director of The Sachs Program. “Our goal is to build on this critical investment and expand mutual aid partnerships between Penn and its surrounding communities, particularly through the arts and especially with The Robeson House.”
The Sachs Program and PRHM are adopting a community-dialogue-driven process for programming and grantmaking and are aiming to bring as many voices to the table as possible at each stage of the process. The goal is that the grant will not only provide much-needed support for local artists and artistic programming but also encourage other collaborations and investments in the creative vibrancy of West Philadelphia. Lead support for this project is provided by the William Penn Foundation.
About Paul Robeson House & Museum
Paul Robeson House & Museum (PRHM) is located in West Philadelphia and was the final home of artist, actor, and activist Paul Leroy Robeson. PHRM keeps Paul Robeson’s legacy alive by supporting the values he stood for—social and economic justice, racial equity, artistic excellence, and the power of art as a force for fundamental social change. PHRM is a museum, a hub for research on Paul Robeson, a center for the arts, and a community hub serving West Philadelphia and the world. Since 1984, PHRM has connected the community to the arts through workshops, gallery shows, author talks, and concerts and by providing free or low-cost tickets to other cultural organizations in Philadelphia.
About William Penn Foundation
William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region.
About The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation
The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation is a center at the University of Pennsylvania that provides grants and other forms of strategic support to artists, faculty, cultural centers, students, and other arts advocates at Penn and beyond. Our vision is that the arts at Penn are valued and embraced as a creative catalyst, driving innovation, inspiration, and action.
The Sachs Program supports a creative, culturally diverse, and pluralistic Penn community. We are committed to supporting individuals and groups from all races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, disabilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.