Faces of Philly arts groups on Trump’s budget chopping block

Sunny Li (left), 13, and Andy Ni, 12, take part in a Social Practice Lab recording workshop at the Asian Arts Initiative, one of the Philly arts groups that would lose federal funding if the NEA and other agencies get axed under President Trump’s proposed budget. MORE PHOTOS IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW

UPDATE, MAY 1, 2017: The spending bill that Congress hashed out over the weekend spares - at least for the next five months - the National Endowment for the Arts.

As President Trump’s proposed budget slashes “discretionary” social spending, like funding of the arts, we look at the beneficiaries of some of Philadelphia’s community-focused groups that receive National Endowment for the Arts funding.

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance reports that since 2012, 98 Philadelphia organizations have received a total of $7.7 million from the NEA.

But these local arts organizations, with less than $25,000 each in funding from the NEA, provide programs from prison art therapy to learning to play the ”doumbek,” an Arabic goblet-shaped drum, and serve constituencies that cut across socioeconomic, cultural and racial lines.

Philadelphia Dance Projects Executive Director Terry Fox explains that the NEA is not a steady stream of operating support. But, she says, “it is highly competitive and getting a grant really raises an organization’s profile and certainly indicates that a panel of national peers considers what you are doing is worthwhile.” This “seal of approval,” she says, impacts everyone, including audiences who then can see the work or benefit from the support of these projects.

Links to some local NEA -funded arts groups:

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture: Arabic for “The Garden,” offers structured exposure to the language, art, music, dance, literature, and natural environment of the Arab world.

Asian Arts Initiative: a resource to the greater Philadelphia Asian American community through workshops, exhibitions, and performance.

HACE:  the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises combats community deterioration through economic development initiatives that address commercial revitalization, employment opportunities, the creation of safe affordable housing, and the provision of support services.

The People’s Paper Co-op:  an ongoing initiative by the Village of Arts and Humanities that transforms the narrative of re-entry connecting formerly incarcerated individuals together with artists, civil rights lawyers, and other city-wide partners.

Philadelphia Dance Projects: supports contemporary dance through projects that encourage artists and audiences to more fully participate and engage in the experience and pursuit of dance as an evolving form.

Shirley Road Productions: an independent non-profit video/film production organization creates educational and cultural programs that are innovative in content, point of view and production.

Tiny WPA: inspired by the New Deal Works Progress Administration, which paid for civic improvements and art during the Depression, Tiny WPA engages youth and communities through design thinking and design building.

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