The Velocity Fund offers artists funding—and a voice

The Velocity Fund
Cesar Viveros, 2021 Velocity Fund Grantee, Collaborative artwork at Iglesias Gardens.
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The City of Brotherly Love is full of artistic expression — it’s engrained into what makes Philly truly special.

And through visual art, performance art, and spoken word, one organization—Philadelphia Contemporary—is dedicated to connecting the people and places of Philadelphia through art and partnership. In fact, that’s their whole mission, and it’s made possible through activations like the Velocity Fund. 

In short, the Fund has just launched its fifth year of funding for Philadelphia artists with an open call for innovative projects. The application is free, and is now available online via Submittable.

What does it exactly do? As a release states, since 2018, the Velocity Fund, which was established with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, has supported 52 projects by Philadelphia-based artists with grants of up to $5,000 paid directly to the artists. Projects have ranged from alternative phonebooks to traveling cabarets, community ceramics to speculative time portals, and documentary film projects to environmental sculptures.

“Sometimes we artists feel isolated when building our practice and believe that no one is paying attention, but sometimes, fortunately for us, there are foundations that work with honest, clever, passionate people who help them see clearly who is in the field, working hard, artistically motivated by this inner force needed to transform things around us for the greater good. Velocity Fund is giving that much-needed support with a direct process where you only have to show who you truly are,” shares Cesar Viveros, Public Artist/Community Activist, and a 2021 Velocity Fund Grantee in a statement.

In its tenure, the Fund has created an opportunity for creatives to do what they do best. But it’s also a way to show support to the arts, something that influences our daily lives more than one would think. Anyone interested in applying for the fund can submit projects—which should be experimental in nature and explore collaborative processes between artistic genres— by Monday, June 6, 2022. 

“The Velocity Fund helped me take myself seriously as a producer and small business. With their support, my company, Dusky Projects, was able to complete the second season of our podcast and continue to employ women in voice over, sound direction and design. The Velocity Fund helped me further my mission of creating opportunities for women of color in horror and sci-fi,” states Wi-Moto Nyoka, Horror/Sci-fi Writer and Arts Educator, and a 2021 Velocity Fund Grantee.

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This year, the Velocity Fund will offer a series of free information sessions both online and in-person alongside community partners to add to the experience. Partners include The Leeway Foundation, CFEVA, Philadelphia Folklore Project, Vox Populi, Sach Center for Arts Innovation, TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image, Icebox Project Space, NextFab, and uCity Science Center’s Venture Cafe.

What these sessions offer is an opportunity for the Velocity Fund team to answer any questions about the application process and to introduce past and current projects (the latest listings can be found on their News/Events page.) Registration for those events can also be found online, though walk-ins are welcome. 

The first event will take place this Thursday, March 31, at 6 pm. This will be a hybrid event both in-person (at Venture Cafe, 3675 Market St.) and online, and it will feature Wi-Moto Nyoka, who also hosts the podcast ‘Black Women are Scary.’ The next event will be hosted by the TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image and Icebox Project Space at the Crane Arts Building (1400 N American St.) on April 22 at 4 p.m., and an online event will follow on April 27 with The Leeway Foundation at 5 p.m. 

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A full list of events in months to come can be found online. 

“Philadelphia Contemporary is deeply grateful to the Andy Warhol Foundation for their decades-long commitment to supporting emerging artists,” says Harry Philbrick, Founding Director of Philadelphia Contemporary. “We are honored to be able to partner with them to help administer the Velocity Fund, which is amongst the most impactful programs serving the diverse and talented artists practicing in our city.”

To find out more information about Philadelphia Contemporary and The Velocity Fund, visit philadelphiacontemporary.org

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