Folk Art & Social Change Residencies

The Philadelphia Folklore Project develops our programming (concerts, exhibits, workshops, etc.) as a result of a multi-year process working in collaboration with artists and community groups. These collaborations range from a couple of years to a decade or more. In them, PFP staff first undertake ethnographic field research to identify significant folk and traditional artists and to understand community dynamics. With the community, we develop a vision and establish goals for a project, then continue to refine, implement, and assess program specifics. While this community driven work has always been at the core of our methodology, in 2011, we officially formalized this process into our Folk Arts and Social Change Residency Program, which is designed to help develop, support, and empower artists through community-generated, socially conscious projects,

In these residencies, artists develop public exhibitions and performances that offer their own communities and diverse visitors creative insight into community-based folk cultural traditions. Residency artists draw on folk art traditions and their own experiences to shine a light on under-recognized local histories and to work against racism, poverty, anti-immigrant sentiment, violence against women and children, and other social struggles. These projects create opportunities for folk artists to gain skills in documentation, analysis, event planning, and they provide them with the tools and resources to develop their work while sharing community arts and histories rarely publicly acknowledged. In this way, PFP helps artists build capacity for art in local communities, increases engagement with traditional art across generations and communities, and advances our mission of folk arts for social change.

Listed in this page are some of our more recent Folk Arts and Social Change Residencies, as well as ones dating back to the inception of our organization. Each residency shows the documentaries, articles, and events inspired from the collaborations, and, of course, features the artists who were at the heart of all this work.

Current Residencies

Porch Places, Street Spaces

Porch Places, Street Spaces documents and advocates for the deeply traditional and emergent creative ways Philadelphians utilize space on porches, stoops, roofs and streets to

Gamelan Gita Santi

In the summer of 2019, the Philadelphia Folklore Project commenced work with the Indonesian community, concentrated in South Philadelphia, around the practice of traditional music and dance through the Gamelan Angklung Workshop taught by Tom Whitman. The project is in partnership with Modero & Company (Philadelphia-based Indonesian dance ensemble).

Past Residencies

La Ofrenda: Beauty Made Visible

Across diverse communities and throughout the world, altars have been spaces for veneration and introspection. They are structures that assist individuals and communities during moments of celebration as well as during times of need or despair. The Philadelphia Folklore Project’s La Ofrenda initiative captures stories of hope, resilience, faith, fear, and strength that are pillars of home altar-making practices within Mexican immigrant communities in our city. Renowned artist César Viveros has collected the stories behind the altars of local community members as a way to preserve and celebrate a sense of belonging.

Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer

In this project, eleven extraordinarily accomplished musicians—all of whom happen to be women—convene in Philadelphia from across North America for a world premiere, one-time-only concert of new Klezmer music. These women, along with production designer and puppeteer Jenny Romaine, take center stage, sharing their spectacular and imaginative visions and voices, and breathing new life into a centuries-old tradition.

Losang Samten: Tibetan Sand Mandala

For ten years (2010–2019), the Philadelphia Folklore Project presented this annual residency with National Endowment for the Arts/National Heritage award winner Losang Samten at our gallery at 735 S. 50th Street in West Philadelphia during the last week of April. The public was invited to stop in to observe and ask questions as Losang created an intricate image of the Tibetan Buddhist universe out of colored sand.