Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures grant funds BIPOC LGBTQ+ art

A collage of Philadelphia's Cultural Treasures' 2024 grantees.
A collage of Philadelphia's Cultural Treasures' 2024 grantees. (Screenshot: Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures)

Several Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures Artist Fellowships are going to LGBTQ+ initiatives. Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures is an initiative funded by The Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage, William Penn Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, Wyncote Foundation and the Barra Foundation. The program will be giving more than $1 million in grants to 39 BIPOC artists and BIPOC-led organizations. 

PGN spoke to the artists and organizations behind three of the LGBTQ+ initiatives that received grants. 

Ivonne Pinto García 

Ivonne Pinto García is an artist and community organizer, originally from Puebla, Mexico. She came to Philadelphia 18 years ago and has been involved with many local organizations including Puentes de Salud. 

She is using the traditional Mexican game of Loteria as a way to help families in the Latino community learn about the LGBTQ+ community. 

She explained through her friend and interpreter, Eric Cesar Morales, that, “Living in a Latino community, it’s important that we begin to talk about topics that we once considered taboo, without any concern about where it comes from, or your previous inclinations… I want to help other parents learn about LGBTQ communities so that we can make our culture more inclusive.” 

She has pushed back on people who’ve questioned why she wants to do this if she’s LGBTQ+ by saying, “I’m not. But I have people in my family [that] I love who are extremely close to me. And I want to make sure our community loves them too.” 

Loteria is a board game similar to bingo, that uses boards with different images on them instead of the numbers and letters you would see on a bingo board. It also involves a singer or caller who recites verses that are associated with the different cards as they announce the card. The caller can also make up their own poems to go with the cards.

“Not all of the poetry they recite that they sing is about love. Sometimes people can create verses that talk about protest, that share strong messages to enact change,” Pinto García said. 

The cards and poems for her board are being designed by queer Latine artists and artists who are allies to the queer Latine community. The grant will go toward paying those involved in the project.

jaamil olawale kosoko 

While some grants are going to the creation of new art, jaamil olawale kosoko is among the artists using the grant money to preserve their previous work. The (CHRYSALIS) Archives will compile 20 years of their transdisciplinary artwork into an online database. 

During the pandemic, olawale kosoko noticed a shift in media and how different data is being stored, distributed and preserved vs. 20 years ago. 

“So it becomes and it feels really urgent now at this stage in my career to do this work of translating and upgrading essentially from older forms of media to newer media forms,” explained olawale kosoko. 

“You know, as a member of the queer community, I know how integral it is to preserve our stories. So often I think Black queer narratives specifically, are omitted, erased. And so this is my opportunity to really situate my work in a larger cultural context and distribute it, share it with other people as well,” they added.

The grant from Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures will allow them to hire an archive assistant to help organize their work into an online database.

Since their artwork is in many different forms, including VHS, High Eight, and paper materials like flyers, this process will not simply involve uploading the work online. Even the art that lives in a digital format will all be made high definition before being put in the archive.

In addition to archiving their work, they mentioned that the database will make their work more accessible to everyone, and specifically mentioned those with disabilities. 

Olawale kosoko describes their work as, “asking a much deeper question around Black life, Black queer life, what it means to sort of conjure and create possibilities where there have historically been none.”

They admit that without the grant, they wouldn’t be able to complete the database. Olawale kosoko called the funding circuit for the arts nationally, “dire.”

“It can oftentimes feel as if there’s so little support for that integral work that we do as artists,” they said. They explained that this work is integral to reminding people of how to live lives outside of the pressures of capitalism.

“So I think it’s integral to support, to center artists of color. It’s deeply needed and mandatory and urgent. And it needs to continue. It’s imperative that it continues,” said olawale kosoko.

The Young Artist Program 

The Young Artist Program (YAP) is a free art and social justice program for BIPOC LGBTQ+ people in Philadelphia, ages 14-25. 

The Philadelphia’s Treasures grant will allow the organization to “enhance its operational capacity” in ways that would be more difficult to achieve without it. 

“This will enable the dedicated team to devote more time and energy to the mission of YAP, expanding its reach through additional collaborations and developing more comprehensive programming and events,” said a spokesperson from YAP. 

The spokesperson added, “The increased capacity will also facilitate greater involvement in community events and the establishment of new partnerships. This means not only continuing signature events like Gay Field Day, but also exploring new opportunities for engagement and collaboration. These initiatives are vital for promoting YAP’s mission of inclusivity, creativity and community empowerment.”

The grant will also help the organization expand the programming that it offers. 

“In essence, the grant is not just a financial boost; it’s a catalyst for growth and development within YAP, allowing us to realize our vision of fostering a vibrant community where art and activism converge to create meaningful change. Without it, our capacity to extend our reach and deepen our impact would be constrained, hindering our efforts to fully support and empower the youth we serve,” the spokesperson said. 

Like olawale kosoko, the spokesperson from YAP spoke about the importance of having art funding specially for people of color, stating that it could help address systemic issues and create more equitable opportunities.

“Targeted funding empowers underrepresented voices by providing the resources needed to amplify diverse perspectives and talents that are often marginalized in these fields. This not only enriches the cultural and entrepreneurial landscape with innovation and creativity but also ensures that a wide range of human experiences and narratives are represented and celebrated,” they said. 

The full list of projects can be found at

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