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Social Impact Commons

4/25/2022 |

The Philadelphia region is home to hundreds of arts and heritage properties. Challenges faced by organizations holding these assets include ongoing reliance on contributed income and a lack of capacity to manage and maintain their properties. This is financially unsustainable and too often leads to problems with physical stewardship. In response, Social Impact Commons formed the Cultural Equity Realty Trust (CERT) as a community-based, nonprofit development organization with the purpose of developing, activating and sustaining arts and heritage real estate through direct community stewardship and ownership. CERT will develop a portfolio of properties under common management whose diversity in income streams and balance sheet holdings can act as a platform for increased stabilization and efficiency for the arts and heritage community with regard to its real property.

Reimagining Theater for Changing Times

12/10/2020 |

Grants were awarded to the Wilma Theater, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret and The People’s Light & Theatre Company for projects that reinvent how performing arts organizations can present work at a time when social distancing has caused many to cancel their 2020 seasons. These companies are considering how to not only safely present to audiences but are also being thoughtful about incorporating social justice issues into their programming and engaging diverse audiences. While many organizations have pivoted to online programming by providing access to previously recorded or live material or Zoom-style conversations and webinars, these projects stood out for their willingness to be daring, think creatively, work collaboratively and share their learning broadly about new models that can be used throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Wilma Theater

12/10/2020 |

Since the coronavirus has created a barrier between audiences and live theater performances, theater companies across the world are looking for solutions to continue engaging with their audiences. The Wilma is seizing the opportunity to reimagine how they make theater and how they might take the lessons learned during the pandemic and change the field at large. Recognizing that audiences crave live theater while needing to stay at home, they are exploring a hybrid model of theater-making for the next season that marries the digital world with live performance. The Wilma envisions a multifaceted approach that involves altering their physical space on two levels: (i) embedding HD cameras throughout the theater to film productions and livestream them while (ii) changing the audience configuration of the auditorium to provide a safe, socially distanced experience.

The People’s Light & Theatre Company

12/10/2020 |

Given their deep community connections and variety of existing programs, People’s Light has the capacity and experience to test unique methods for entertaining the community where they are. They will roll out newly developed socially distanced programming, (which may include the Beards truck as a potential approach) providing new experiences to their community partners that are immediate and timely. If successful, these models of community-based delivery will allow them to be more responsive to current events and community needs and to honor the experiences of community members, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Others will be able to learn from these experiments, as COVID-19 wears on and into the future.

 

The Bearded Ladies Cabaret

12/10/2020 |

COVID-19 social distancing restrictions have made anything but the smallest gatherings impossible for the foreseeable future. As an organization used to presenting cabaret style performances in small venues, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret (“Beards”) quickly shifted from delivering programming inside to taking it outside. Joining forces with other organizations throughout the region, they are developing a mobile arts venue that will bring diverse, small-scale experiences to open spaces in neighborhoods. The truck will open out into a stage complete with speakers and other technical equipment, transforming into an alternative performance space for the Beards and their partners. At a time when social justice is at the forefront of conversation, people are looking to engage with each other in new ways. The arts can help to accomplish this. This mobile venue will serve as a forum for connecting with people in their own neighborhoods, providing an opportunity for broader engagement and access.

Philadelphia Learning Collaborative

8/11/2020 |

Barra’s investment in The Philadelphia Learning Collaborative (PLC) aims to further embed the innovative education approaches the Foundation has previously supported. Through a “thematic review,” in 2018 Barra looked back at several investments it had made in new school models including Science Leadership Academy, Building 21, Vaux Big Picture and the Workshop School and found that there were challenges to embedding these approaches into practice. These schools (and others) came together to address their need to strengthen the student-centered deeper learning practices in their schools and spread the innovation to other public, independent and charter schools interested in implementation. The PLC is an efficient way for the schools to collectively address these challenges as well as some of the obstacles they face working with colleges and universities to build a pipeline of educators prepared to teach at their schools, professional development, authentic assessment and establishing real-world connections for learning beyond the classroom.

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