For 35 years, Mural Arts Philadelphia has been working to make the world a better place, according to its executive director, Jane Golden. However, as we face what she terms a "triple pandemic" of COVID-19, economic collapse, and racism, she said now more than ever it's really time to dig in.
That's why the nonprofit is committing $20,000 to annual fellowships for Black artists in Philadelphia.
"We see the genius and talent that resides in so many people in our city, and understand deeply the inherent racism and division, and lack of opportunity," said Golden. "We have to ask ourselves what does equity mean and how do we do our part to try to offer people a platform for expression and creativity and opportunity."
Like many other nonprofits during this time, Mural Arts has been grappling with the financial strain from COVID-19. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Red Bull, however, they were able to commit more money towards the project.
The Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists offers 20 local Black artists of any medium $1,000. But it’s not just about the financial help. Art connoisseurs Noah Smalls, Conrad Benner, and Ginger Rudolph will also help mentor the emerging artists.
"So we're going to be able to give them an opportunity to share their work across the Mural Arts channels, which includes networking with local and international artists, and all 20 of them are going to have personal dedicated personal sessions where we can try and help them out and determine their individual needs as artists," Rudolph explained.
She said it’s also about creating space and visibility to help more Black artists succeed.
"Here in Philadelphia, I find myself at a lack of being able to reach out for a lot of Black voices," Rudolph shared. "I know that they’re there but I realize that they have not been given the platform and they have not been able to express themselves in the right arena. It’s taken me a lot of time, a lot of networking to get to here I am so perhaps I can make it a bit easier for someone else."
To show their commitment, Golden said the fellowship will be offered annually. The deadline to apply is June 30.