Percent For Art

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PHDC and the Knight Foundation Announce ART IS ESSENTIAL

Public Art to Empower, Connect and Engage Communities
Contact: Jamila Davis, PIO, Department of Planning and Development & PHDC,
PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 15, 2020

PHDC announced today the launch of a new initiative titled ART IS ESSENTIAL. This program, made possible with $150,000 of public funds and $150,000 from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, supports local artists who are interested in re-imagining community-based public art in Philadelphia.

ART IS ESSENTIAL is a first of its kind, multi-phased program designed to create high-quality, artist-driven and community-informed public art. Artists from across Philadelphia will reimagine how we engage with each other and our communities.

“From the pandemic to confronting the deep impact of racism and inequality, we are asking artists to help us explore and understand our present reality,” said Greg Heller, Senior Vice President of Community Investment at PHDC. “We want to lift up unheard and underrepresented voices across our communities and let artist-led ideas show us new ways to engage, connect, debate, and shape our future.”

Submissions for the first phase for Philadelphia-based artists at any experience level, working in any medium are now closed. The requirement was that applicants address the central question of “What does engagement mean today?” A review committee of diverse arts professionals will select 100 exemplary proposals to receive awards of $1,000 each. Later phases will utilize the remainder of program funding to further develop and implement community-centered concepts from the 100 selected proposals.

“Through their work, artists contribute to a community’s culture, connectedness and healing during challenging times”, said Victoria Rogers, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation. “By empowering local artists to create community-centered public art in Philadelphia, we are connecting them to each other and their city when it’s needed most.”

Information can be found at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

About PHDC
PHDC is Philadelphia’s full-service community development organization. Its work includes home repair programs, rental assistance, reactivating public land, and financing affordable housing with the goal of building equitable communities. Each PHDC initiative supports amenities that make Philadelphia neighborhoods great places to live.

2020 Percent for Art Committee Members

Margot Berg
Duane Bumb
Ignacio Bunster

Peter Crawford
Ofelia Garcia
Germaine Ingram

Christine Marsal
Nancy O’Donnell
Laura Spina

With questions or for more information contact Katherine Liss at

Percent for Art Policy (April 21, 2021): Review the full Percent for Art Program policy.