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New Ruth Arts Foundation awards grants to five Philadelphia arts groups, Tom Devaney’s ‘Bicentennial City’ on WHYY-TV, Plus a video on gun violence panel, and help Philadelphia’s search for the right Harriet Tubman memorial

It's summer! But there's still news, even in the art world. Biggest today is the announcement of a new foundation, The Ruth Foundation for the Arts (Ruth Arts), an initiative expanding on the work of the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II, member of the midwest Kohler family and long-time Director of the Kohler Art Center who supported the arts throughout her life. The nationally-focused foundation, based in Milwaukee, today awarded $1.25 to 78 nonprofit arts organizations nominated for the grants. Artblog is happy to share this great news and we congratulate the 5 local groups chosen for the new grants: Ballet X, Blackstar Projects, Taller Puertorriqueño, Twelve Gates and The Clay Studio. In other news, two videos we recommend for this hot weekend, and a call from the city for citizen participation in shaping the choice for the new public art Harriet Tubman statue.

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Philadelphia city hall captured from north broad street, with PAFA's paintbrush sculpture visible on the right amongst the tall city buildings.
City Hall, Philadelphia, pictured from North Broad Street. Photo courtesy M. Edlow, Visit Philadelphia

NEWS

Ruth Foundation for the Arts (Ruth Arts) debuts $1.25M national grant initiative including grants to five Philadelphia nonprofit cultural organizations

[Congratulations to all the Philadelphia recipients of the new Ruth Arts awards! While a search today does not turn up a website for The Ruth Foundation for the Arts, there’s an enlightening article in today’s NY Times that includes this quote about the new foundation’s impact on the nations’ arts community: “The foundation, based in Milwaukee, is planning to give away between $17 to $20 million a year. ‘They will be right up there at the top,’ said Joel Wachs, the president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. His foundation gives away around $17 million a year, he said.” Read the full article here.]

Milwaukee, WI — June 30, 2022 — Today, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts (Ruth Arts) is pleased to mark its debut in the landscape of arts philanthropy with the announcement of its inaugural grantmaking cycle. The new foundation is supported by a bequest of $440 million from the late Ruth DeYoung Kohler II, and expects to award grants totaling more than $17 million annually.

The first class of Ruth Arts grantees — an initial round of funding that precedes the regular giving cycles that the organization will embark upon later this year — includes 78 nonprofit arts organizations that have been awarded a total of $1.25 million in funding. These individual grants range from $10,000 to $50,000 each.

The Foundation is led by Executive Director Karen Patterson, who was most recently Director of Exhibitions at The Fabric Workshop and Museum and Senior Curator at The John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts, alongside Program Director Kim Nguyen, former Curator and Head of Programs at CCA Wattis Institute. Under their leadership, the grantmaker will seek to explore new possibilities in arts philanthropy that safeguard creativity and take a people-centric approach.

“I am honored to continue Ruth’s exceptional legacy in such an impactful way,” said Patterson. “She has shown us that a thriving art community requires support for the entire ecosystem: from exhibition spaces, to festivals, to archives, to art environments, to residencies, and to school programs. We are truly a multidimensional field. We rely on one another. And none of these things would be possible without artists.”

Built from the inspiration and bequest of Ruth DeYoung Kohler II, a lifelong advocate for the midwest’s artistic community, Ruth Arts embraces the ethos of the region while operating at a national scale. The organizations funded in this initial round of grantmaking come from 29 states and range widely in size. In keeping with the spirit of Ruth Arts, which places a particular emphasis on the support of creativity in all its forms, with a focus on the unconventional and exciting, grantees were not confined to particular fields or genres of work, and span a broad spectrum of culture-making.

Ruth Arts launches with a unique artist-driven nomination process for this initial round of grants, which was guided by a group of nearly 50 artists. These artists, drawn from across the country and at all stages of their careers, were asked to propose organizations they felt had deeply influenced their own engagement with art, presented visionary community programming, and
connected deeply with artists’ processes. The grantees were then drawn from these nominations.

The artists who participated in the process include: Sarah Braman, Nikesha Breeze, Mel Chin, Andrea Chung, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Nicholas Galanin, Kati Gegenheimer, Michelle Grabner, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Heather Hart, Dyani White Hawk, Kahlil Robert Irving, Roberto Lugo,
Guadalupe Maravilla, Woody De Othello, Ebony G. Patterson, Gala Porras-Kim, Tammie Rubin, Rose B. Simpson, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Lisa Stone, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Thomas Gibson, Nari Ward, Didier William, Saya Woolfalk, and Samira Yamin. Others chose to remain anonymous.

While grants will remain on an invitation-only basis for a twice-annual cycle as the foundation grows and develops, Ruth Arts will continue to work with artists to guide and inform its programming, and will host their artist nominating processes on a regular basis.

These leaders and visionaries across the arts, alongside Ruth Arts’ Board of Trustees—composed of some of Kohler’s beloved friends and advisors—serve to navigate Ruth Arts through the evolving arts philanthropy landscape while keeping the organization anchored in its values and origins.

Philadelphia awardees of the inaugural Ruth Foundation grants:
● Ballet X
● BlackStar Projects
● Taller Puertorriqueño
● The Clay Studio
● Twelve Gates

VIDEO EVENTS

Bicentennial City” film airs on WHYY TV 12 JULY 2, 7:00 PM

Artblog Bicentennial City Screen Shot
Screen grab of sign that appears in the film “Bicentennial City,” directed by Thomas Devaney, Matthew Suib, and Aaron Igler. Produced by Haverford College’s Hurford Center/VCAM DocuLab Program and Greenhouse Media.

From Tom Devaney, producer/director of the film…

I am excited and grateful that our film Bicentennial City is going to air on WHYY TV12 this Saturday July 2nd at 7:00 pm.

We’re proud that several of the stories explored in the essay film continue to be relevant. One is about the Save Chinatown Movement. It has been in the news recently as President Biden’s infrastructure bill has allocated $1 billion to reconnect neighborhoods that were bisected by highways. In Philly, the City is taking steps to cap sections of the Vine Street Expressway that cuts through Chinatown.

And I know a lot of people may not be feeling in a very patriotic mood this July 4th—for good reason—we’re a pretty damn fractured country. The film directly explores some of these vexing quandaries.

There are also stories related to the Ben Franklin Parkway, which connect to conversations about reimagining the Parkway.

See the 30-second trailer here.

About Bicentennial City:
Directed by Thomas Devaney, Matthew Suib, and Aaron Igler. Produced by Haverford College’s Hurford Center/VCAM DocuLab Program and Greenhouse Media.

Featured interviews include Public Historian Kenneth Finkel, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Pennsylvania Folk Life Festival Coordinator (1976) Ann Mintz, Independent Historian Francis W. Hoeber, Community Activist Mary Yee, Urban Historian Nathaniel Popkin, Artist and Educator Leroy Johnson, Jeweler and IMPresario Henri David, and Supreme Court Principal Justice Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation Rev. J. R. Norwood.

The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral panel on “Souls Shot Portrait Project” and gun violence remediation

From Thomas Lloyd, Canon for Music and the Arts, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral –

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral is honored to release a video of last Sunday’s panel discussion at the closing of our most recent Souls Shot Portrait Project exhibition. We have added in photos of many of the inspiring works in the show to go along with the thoughtful reflections and calls to action of Laura Madeleine, Founder and Curator, Souls Shot Portrait Project; Maxayn Gooden, Founder/President of Jahworld18 and Women Of Valor74; Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, Philadelphia; and our Dean Judy Sullivan as moderator.

OPPORTUNITY

Help Philadelphia decide on the look and feel of its new Harriet Tubman Statue

The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) invites Philadelphians to participate in the development of Philadelphia’s permanent Harriet Tubman statue that will be located on the North apron of City Hall by November 2023.

Philadelphians are invited to complete the public input survey of seven (7) questions by Wednesday, July 13 before 5:00 p.m. The information gathered through the online public survey will help determine the theme and messaging of the permanent Harriet Tubman statue to make it unique to Philadelphia and inform the physical design and statue’s text. Click here to find the project background and some key highlights of the history of Harriet Tubman.

Philadelphia’s permanent Harriet Tubman statue will be a continuation of the temporary Harriet Tubman: The Journey to Freedom statue that is traveling across the country and left City Hall at the end of March 2022. The permanent Harriet Tubman statue will give Philadelphians an opportunity to connect with one another, understand our histories, and celebrate underrepresented stories in our public spaces.

Photograph portrait of Harriet Tubman, a Black woman wearing a brown or gray robe over a black blouse, and a dark scarf with white patterns wrapped around her hair.
Harriet Tubman (1895), Photographer: Horatio Seymour Squyer, 1848 – 18 Dec 1905 – National Portrait Gallery – image from Wikipedia, Public Domain.
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