Lit Up Again!

Illuminate the Arts grants The Local with another round of crucial funding

When Philadelphia Council announced a special grant in 2021 to provide a lifeline to community artists and creatives, we were overjoyed to find ourselves awardees later that year. We immediately invested the money in freelancers, grant writers and equipment upgrades that have juiced our productivity in many new and exciting ways that, frankly, we are only just beginning to get on top of.

It’s a great “problem” to have, though, and we could not be more thrilled or thankful to be in this position! Huge gratitude to Philly City Council, especially Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson who pushed the city to value and support arts and culture. Illuminate the Arts seeks to award applicants who demonstrate the most need in providing for underserved communities. In the first round, a total of $1 million was distributed to about 650 various artists and organizations.

This time around, the grant was raised to $1.5 million, expanding the number of awardees to 934, which amounted to 81% of all eligible applicants (the dollar amount awarded also increased). Fyi: this money comes from the City Council’s General Fund, via the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, which was created in 1986 by Mayor Wilson Goode to support art/culture/creativity as a public asset.

In addition to grants, OACCE offers a ton of programming, from community events to classes, workshops, performances, exhibitions, and more. They were behind that survey on the Christopher Columbus statue on Marconi Plaza. They even produce Arts Access TV on local channel 64, where any city resident can have their videos featured for free.

Follow @creativePHL to keep posted on all the great cultural and artistic opportunities available in the City. And please consider checking in with us here at The Local, to share your experiences so we can inform and hopefully inspire more Philly artists (and art appreciation!). Fun Fact: you don’t have to be a professional to submit your words or images for publication in our pages – and you’ll even get paid if printed.

We say this a lot but it’s so true: a free paper is a special sort of public space, where all different voices can find expression and validation. Our city is so segregated, with digital divides growing every day. This spring, our 2021 Illuminate the Arts grant helped us break from our geographical boundaries to become the city’s first grassroots collaborative newspaper. With 2022’s award, we’re looking forward to building out on this new foundation with a growing team of passionate neighbors serving communities that need it most. (View the list of 2022’s grantees here)

Big thanks to Councilmembers Thomas and Richardson, and to all City Council. And so much love for our readers and followers – we appreciate every page-turn, every click, every comment. Please keep your feedback coming! Call us 267-428-3520 or email or DM us on Facebook or Insta.

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