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New 5 Million Dollar Fund For Dance Only Requires A One Page Application


The Afoo Foundation for the Arts has recently announced the creation of a new 5 million dollar fund for the support of dance in the Philadelphia region. Spokesperson Loretta April Persey went on to explain, “We recently came to the realization that this area of the arts, dance that is, has been greatly underfunded for so many years. We hope our efforts will close that gap.”

There have been other foundations offering funding for dance in the region, but what makes this program so unique is that it only requires a single one page application. Persey continues, “We wanted an application that was truly indicative of the work, rather than people actually tailoring their responses to the grant. So our application is about simply giving us your basic information – name and contact information, amount requested and then just describing in your own words your dance project”.

Dance companies as well as individual dancers can now go online and simply fill out this one page form and get a response in less than 24 hours as to whether they are funded or not, as well as the exact level of funding offered. “We did not want to have people waiting months after filling in an application to know if they could move forward with the project or not. Plus, this really cuts down on all the boring committee meetings, pouring over financial statements and debates about the relevance of the dance work, etc.” said Persey.

When asked about the criteria for selecting artists, Persey seemed a bit more hesitant in her response. “To begin with, we would rather fund a lot of smaller projects versus those six figure projects. While both have relevance, we like to spread the wealth around and that way have more work being created by more folks. After that, we just randomly pick from the application pool. But truth be told, we do have our favorites, doesn’t everyone?”

Persey admitted that her favorite pieces “have lots of pedestrian movement, you know where they just keep walking back and forth on stage. It is very soothing and really cuts down on how much energy a dancer has to use on stage. In these days of going green and cutting back on energy use, this sort of thing is critical. We like to think that our foundation supports a “green culture” as well. It is important to be environmentally conscious.”

When probed about the reasoning behind creating this new fund, Persey admitted, “Frankly, we got tired of seeing so many dancers on the streets. They call it site-specific work but we knew that they just could not afford to be in a theater. So we thought it would be beneficial to the city to do something about the theaterless dancer situation. And frankly, I just got tired of getting all these kickstarter emails and updates asking for a ten dollar donation. Seemed easier to just start a fund.”

Well, we can all dream can we not! – APRIL FOOLS!

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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