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

Tom Gralish, Inquirer Staff Photographer

Updated: Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 3:01 AM

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.

Sara Narva in motion at the Crefeld School, where she teaches dance and theater. She is also an instructor with the Philadelphia Dance Projects DanceTAG (Teaching Artists Group), a collegial gathering of teaching artists for movement ideas, information, discussion and networking. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Formerly incarcerated women display wet sheet castings of their faces, art that will be part of a "Women in Reentry Day" symposium, set for May 13 at the Village of Arts and Humanities in Germantown. Taking part in the People's Paper Co-op project are (front row from left): Toni Brown, Carmelita Bird, Tonya Randolph, and Jonquil Brown; (back row from left): Faith Bartley (also a fellow with PPC) and Rosa Mcknight. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Carmelita Bird (left) and Jonquil Brown compose poetry at the People's Paper Co-op art workshop with help from artist, activist and co-founder Mark Strandquist (with laptop) as part of the SPACES residency program at the Village of Arts and Humanities. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The People's Paper Co-op program helps formerly incarcerated individuals develop "works of art that connect the voices and visions of those in reentry with those in power." TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Sunny Li (left), 13, and Andy Ni, 12, take part in a Social Practice Lab recording workshop at the Asian Arts Initiative. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Sound artist Rachel Ishikawa (rear, right), the Asian Arts Initiative Social Practice Lab's artist-in-residence with her workshop students on an outdoor recording session. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Ishikawa's students record sound under the Reading Viaduct. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Wedad Abughoush shows off her artwork at the Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture after-school Arab arts program at John Moffet Elementary School. The program engages students of diverse ethnic backgrounds, teaching Arabic songs, drumming, music skills, as well as participation in a variety of visual art projects. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture program director Max Dugan (right) warms up with students at Moffet before their music teacher arrives for their Arab arts after-school program. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Felicita Miranda (left), of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, and Bill Summers, with Townwatch, pause for a photo at a workshop hosted by HACE, a nonprofit that was started in 1982 to respond to the need for economic empowerment in the Latino community.
HACE hosts a workshop for neighborhood artists and craftspeople with the goal of elevating the roles of arts in their community, facilitated by Just Act and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Neighborhood residents move into the center of their roundtable desks at the end of the workshop at HACE, "Arts-Powered Places: A Grassroots Creative Placemaking Project." TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Shirley Road Productions producer/director Frances McElroy with her current film, "Black Ballerina," a one-hour documentary for public television. Like all of these arts groups, the film maker received some NEA funding for part of the project which showcases the challenges and achievements of professional classical dancers of color. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Tamar Speightz (left), 18, and Daniel Sinyal, 15, pose with their cardboard and plywood prototypes of modular shelving they are making in the wood shop at Tiny WPA, a nonprofit that aims to engage the community through design thinking and building. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Sinyal (left) and Speightz build their shelves, through the program's year-round training in design, collaboration, leadership, fabrication, and entrepreneurship. TOM GRALISH / Staff Phographer
Photo Gallery: NEA Funded Arts Groups

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.

Tom Gralish, Inquirer Staff Photographer

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