PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) has been approved for a $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) Grants for Arts Projects award to support cultural programming for A Peaceful Place: From Burying Ground to Playground. OACCE’s awarded project is among 1,073 projects across America, totaling nearly $25 million, that were selected during this first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.
A Peaceful Place: From Burying Ground to Playground will be a collection of multidisciplinary cultural commissions responding to the history of the Bethel Burying Ground, the first independent cemetery for African Americans in what was once a center of Philadelphia’s Black community and is now a playground in the predominantly white neighborhood of Queen Village, Philadelphia. The awarded project is an opportunity to tell these stories through a diversity of artistic disciplines while engaging Philadelphians around this history leading up to the unveiling of the Bethel Burying Ground Public Art Memorial.
“The City of Philadelphia greatly appreciates the NEA’s support, especially during such a challenging year for the arts sector,” said Mayor Kenney. “This award will support the City’s vision to engage Philadelphians around the essential history of Philadelphia’s African American community through the commissioning of these cultural programs, coinciding with the development of the Bethel Burying Ground Public Art Memorial, which has been years in the making.”
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support OACCE’s project, A Peaceful Place: From Burying Ground to Playground,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”
OACCE’s awarded project will respond to the history of the Bethel Burying Ground and inspire multidisciplinary cultural commissions that reflect stories of ambition, lost identity, and larger tensions that will be told citywide. The project will bring a culture and community of the past into the light of the present, celebrate the lives of the interred, and educate Philadelphians about the burying ground and the role of African Americans in the shaping of Philadelphia. For more on the history of the Bethel Burying Ground Historic Site and information about the Bethel Burying Ground Memorial Project, visit creativephl.org.
“The NEA Grants for Arts Projects award will support the City’s ongoing Bethel Burying Ground initiatives to raise awareness about these complex and under-told stories of Philadelphia’s African American community through artistic perspectives,” said Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer. “We greatly appreciate the support of the NEA and look forward to the growth our community engagement process through this project.”
For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.
About City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) closes the gap in access to the arts for all Philadelphians and is committed to equitable support of culture and creativity throughout the city’s neighborhoods. OACCE supports free cultural programming; creates opportunities for local artists and creative organizations; connects Philadelphians to quality arts experiences; and preserves the City’s public art assets. For more information about the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, visit CreativePHL.org and follow @CreativePHL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.