William Penn and Mellon Foundations Give $8 Million to Philly Arts and Culture Groups Hit by COVID-19

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

William Penn and Mellon Foundations Give $8 Million to Philly Arts and Culture Groups Hit by COVID-19

Two major backers of arts and culture in Philadelphia have teamed up to award $8 million in COVID-19-related relief for the sector.

The $4 million each from Philadelphia’s William Penn Foundation and the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will be distributed to a cross section of area arts groups — large and small, both community-based and internationally known. The Philadelphia Orchestra and Barnes Foundation are receiving $400,000 each. North Philadelphia’s Village of Arts and Humanities is on the list for $200,000.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, a small and relatively young company, is receiving $100,000 — a sum that is about a third of its annual budget, which makes it a “very major deal,” said Katie Moore, the company’s business director.

“That will have an incredible impact on our ability to sustain annual programs and also on our ability to not just get to the light at the end of the tunnel but also past it,” said Moore, referring to the pandemic’s conclusion. “We want to be around for decades.”

The arts-funding package going to 37 groups is the most recent assembled by William Penn since March, when the pandemic emptied museum galleries and concert halls — and drained coffers. The goal was to get funding into the hands of groups quickly, “supporting organizations that need it right now,” said Judilee Reed, director of the William Penn Foundation’s Creative Communities program. “I know we haven’t solved every problem through these grants, but I do know just from emails we received from organizations and their leadership and staff how deeply meaningful [the support] is.”

As it has done with other arts-relief initiatives, William Penn this time pulled in additional philanthropic muscle. Mellon was a natural partner since it was already one of the largest funders of arts and culture in Philadelphia. “It felt like a model that we should explore with a city that is important to us historically,” said Mellon Foundation arts and culture program officer Susan Feder...

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