A community revitalization program using art as vehicle for engagement and change

The Village of Arts and Humanities uses innovative arts-inspired programs to create place, build self-esteem, and foster community in north Philadelphia. In a neighborhood facing many challenges, the project has created a series of “living sculpture” art parks, restored several buildings to create community space, and engaged neighborhood children in building a community park. The village offers arts education and vocational training for youth and adults as well as other programs that serve the over 10,000 primarily low-income African-American residents.

Village of Arts and Humanities is ‘bold and absolutely spectacular’ in the way it involved people doing things with their own hands in their own community.

2001 Selection Committee

A private, nonprofit community-based organization, the Village of Arts and Humanities began in 1986 as a summer project for local youth. It has since grown into a major provider of arts-inspired programs that focus on beautifying physical spaces to create shifts in the way residents view and value their neighborhood and themselves. A tree farm teaches important environmental lessons, and a theater gives participants the opportunity to share their stories and heal through self-expression. It remains a highly democratic grassroots organization, emphasizing empowerment and possibility in all of its endeavors.