Forman Arts Initiative and Philadelphia Foundation Announce Art Works Grant Winners

Forman Arts Initiative and Philadelphia Foundation Announce Art Works Grant Winners

 Four individual artists and five cultural organizations will participate in the $3 million program to support arts and culture in Greater Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA – July 21, 2021 – Today the Forman Arts Initiative (FAI) and Philadelphia Foundation announced the inaugural winners of Art Works, a new $3 million five-year grant program for community-based organizations and emerging artists. Four individual artists will each receive two-year unrestricted grants of $10,000 per year, while five community-based organizations will receive two-year unrestricted grants at least $50,000 per year. This first class of winners represents the innovative and creative work happening in communities across the region, and highlights the talents of our cultural sector.

“The breadth and quality of the applications really excites us,” said Jennifer Rice, co-founder of the Forman Arts Initiative, which, along with Philadelphia Foundation, launched Art Works as its first program. Art Works is specifically designed to support arts, culture and creativity working in partnership with under-served communities. “These artists and organizations are creating work that puts Philadelphia in a class by itself, and they represent of our city’s deep and diverse creativity.”

“The selected artists and organizations are creating some of the most novel, challenging, inspiring work anywhere,” added Pedro Ramos, President and CEO of Philadelphia Foundation. “We asked each applicant to demonstrate a commitment to incorporating community perspectives into their work, and the wide scope of views we received surpassed all of our expectations. Across disciplines and mediums, they collectively represent Philadelphia’s rich, diverse communities. It’s a privilege to have such talent in our first Art Works cohort.”

The inaugural class of winners includes:

Individual Artists

José Ortiz-Pagán has worked as a printmaker, sculpturer, painter and performance artist.
Through his work, Ortiz-Pagán strives to facilitate community change, and he has previously worked with the Philadelphia Folklore Project, the Fleisher Art Memorial, and the Trust for Public Land in Philadelphia.

Jorge Rullán Fantauzzi is a talented choreographer whose work has appeared in 14 performances for Festival Ballet Providence, Philadelphia Dance Theatre, and the Cincinnati Ballet Second Company. Fantauzzi’s most recent project with the Brooklyn Center for the Arts helped provide access to classical art forms for underprivileged youth.

Sabriaya Shipley is an educator, poet, playwright and performance artist whose work centers around supporting Black and Brown youth. Her impressive resume includes working on nine theater credits in the Philadelphia area; overseeing Griot Girls, a youth writing collective for young Black girls; and serving as a literacy program director for North Philadelphia’s Tree House Books.

Tshay Williams is a filmmaker and screenwriter who focuses on making portraits that celebrate Black lives. Williams has worked with a number of community-oriented media organizations including BlackStar Film Festival and Scribe Video Center. She is in development on her debut narrative short WITH MY OWN HANDS.

Community-Focused Organizations

Bearded Ladies Cabaret is a group of cabaret and drag performers who draw inspiration from traditional theater, dance and opera to provide audiences with an intersectional experience of popular culture, sexuality, gender and artistic invention.

Big Picture Alliance engages, educates and empowers Philadelphia youth through filmmaking and digital media arts learning experiences.

BlackStar creates the spaces and resources needed to uplift the work of Black, Brown and Indigenous artists working outside of the confines of genre. They do this by producing year-round programs including film screenings, exhibitions, an annual film festival, a filmmaker seminar, a film production lab, and a journal of visual culture.

Twelve Gates Arts is focused on uplifting South and West Asian diasporic artistic voices within the local cultural landscape.

Scribe Video Center is dedicated to teaching the art of media-making and exploring the use of video both as an artistic medium and as a tool for achieving progressive social change.

Grant recipients are available for interviews. Their work can be viewed here.

The Forman Arts Initiative will also provide organizational grantees with access to host co-operative education students from Drexel University to enhance their organizational effectiveness. These placements, administered by Drexel’s Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships, provide students with meaningful work experience in the arts and culture sector.

Grantees were selected from more than 100 submissions by a nine-member committee composed of community advisors and FAI and Philadelphia Foundation principals and staff. The selection committee included:

Thom Collins (Executive Director and President, The Barnes Foundation)

Jamie Brunson (Executive Director, First Person Arts)

Jaime Frankfurt (Art Advisor)

Anne Ishii (Executive Director, Asian Arts Initiative)

Maggi Kirk (Development and Donor Services Officer, Philadelphia Foundation)

Pepón Osorio (Artist)

Pedro Ramos (President and CEO, Philadelphia Foundation)

Michael Forman (Co-Founder, Forman Arts Initiative)

Jennifer Rice (Co-Founder, Forman Arts Initiative)

About Forman Arts Initiative:

The Forman Arts Initiative (FAI), founded by Michael Forman and Jennifer Rice, is a new organization dedicated to supporting community-based arts and creativity in Philadelphia through programming, convening and advocacy. In the coming years, FAI will serve as a platform to connect, mentor and support artists and organizations around Philadelphia to deepen and to grow the rich cultural heritage of Philadelphia’s communities. More FAI initiatives for the city will unfold in the coming months and years. For more information visit

About Philadelphia Foundation:

Founded in 1918, Philadelphia Foundation strengthens the economic, social and civic vitality of Greater Philadelphia. Philadelphia Foundation grows effective philanthropic investment, connects individuals and institutions across sectors and geography, and advances civic initiatives through partnerships and collaboration. A publicly supported foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation manages more than 1,000 charitable funds established by its donors and makes over 1,000 grants and scholarship awards each year. To learn more visit

Contact Information:
Forman Arts Initiative
Kate Wilhelm, Ceisler Media or 856-304-7232

Philadelphia Foundation
Melissa Fordyce or 856-430-4661