In partnership with the People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC), Barnes West has been serving West Philadelphia with multifaceted arts programming since 2018. Barnes West is designed to enrich lives and communities through shared art experiences and access. The Barnes Foundation and the Peoples Emergency Center CDC jointly present multifaceted arts programming—building upon PECCDC’s LoLa 38 creative placemaking initiative and the Barnes’s community engagement work to connect art in service to communities where they are. This collaboration brings West Philadelphia residents, business owners, and artists together in celebrating culture, creativity, and community voice—highlighting lifelong appreciation of, and participation in, the arts and cultural life of our city.
In June 2021, Barnes West launched Everyday Places Artist Partnerships, offering opportunities for social-impact artists to engage community residents in art-making activities that would spark creativity, hope, and healing.
The five artists selected for 2021 were Keyonna Butler, Marshall James Kavanaugh, Jahwula Seapoe, Andrea Walls, and Karen Smith with Sistahs Laying Down Hands. The artists partnered with neighborhood businesses and sites—including a hair salon, a jewelry shop, restaurants, public parks, and community organizations—to build interactive projects that engaged and inspired West Philly residents and empowered them to share their own creative voices. The projects incorporated poetry, creative writing, drumming, photography, yoga, visual art, and upcycled fashion and helped more than 350 residents experience interpersonal connections through art.
Additional programmatic components of Barnes West include monthly Barnes Presents! programs, including performances, art presentations, and workshops, at two central public spaces in West Philadelphia neighborhoods. Barnes Presents! offers space and time for residents to celebrate culture, creativity, and community voice together. Barnes West also includes neighborhood-based art activities with community agencies, housing developments, and civic groups, such as virtual curator and artist talks, performances, and art-making workshops. Finally, early in the pandemic, Barnes West created and distributed more than 400 art kits to residents in West Philadelphia who were experiencing decreased overall engagement due to lack of internet access, at locations such as the PEC Food Pantry and Mantua Food Pantry, University Square Apartments and Stephen Smith Towers, and events such as the Juneteenth Lantern-in-Place Celebration.
Barnes West is committed to growing and deepening relationships within West Philadelphia neighborhoods through public programming that builds civic participation and strengthens community connections to art and culture. By introducing neighborhood pop-ups with a museum lens, integrating the Barnes’s curatorial and education teams in creative networking events for adults, and including more neighborhood sites to draw audiences to high-quality arts and cultural programming, Barnes West is creating a sustainable community presence and creative engagement within West Philadelphia.
Partners: People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation, One Art Community Center, Clara Muhammad Square, Imperial Caribbean & Seafood, Silk Tent, Kanvas Event Center, Center for Carceral Communities, La Pearl Beauty Emporium, and the New Africa Freedom Center.