Dear Friends of the Art Alliance,

Though our doors have been closed, we are so pleased to share that we’ve been able to leverage this unplanned pause in strategic ways.

As one who has the privilege of overseeing and working across university centers, of which the Art Alliance is one (others include Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Lightbox Film Center, and the Center for Immersive Media), I am continually inspired by the potential these initiatives hold not just today, but in five years, a decade, a quarter century or more, in our work to advance human creativity.

Though we were all disappointed to cut short the Pew-funded exhibition Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant Garde and postpone a number of planned projects this year, we have seized the opportunity to advance our next phase of renovations, made possible by the generous support of the Dietrich Foundation; the vision and leadership of President David Yager; and continued design expertise of Solomonoff Architecture Studio and JacobsWyper Architects. At this very moment, work is advancing to restore and enhance the grand stair and second-floor landing. The recent investments made by both the Dietrich Foundation and the university amid a global pandemic is a true testament to the legacy and future potential the Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts holds for our city and the region. Yet our work towards transforming the Art Alliance as a destination for contemporary creative practices across disciplines is truly just beginning.

Many may view the Art Alliance and its programs independently from the university, yet I have a unique position to see how they are interrelated, and how the scholarship, deep study, experiments and failures across a university devoted to all of the arts can and will shape a center like the Art Alliance. New understandings within the arts and even in our own histories can be achieved. New futures, methods and alternate approaches and renewed traditions within creative practice will be uncovered. Synergies among immersive technologies and analogue, haptic and embodied practices will be explored. The convergence of interests comes together in a unique way that only a university setting can afford.

Our team is currently hard at work examining and re-animating all the potentials of the Art Alliance. In addition to some of the stories featured here, we have also recently embarked on actively identifying resources and ways we can celebrate and gain new understandings from the archive of the Art Alliance, a true treasure not just for the city, but for the nation. With President Yager’s vision and understanding of what the Art Alliance can be in the future, we continue to seek partners to assist us in enacting the final phases of renovation, which includes making the building truly accessible to all and renovating the long-neglected residential quarters of the building, which represent new potentials and modes of engagement with artists. Conversations and planning continue for the eventual return of a restaurant. And above all, our curatorial team is hard at work, and in conversation with artists, imagining schedule of programs for when we return, which we hope will be at some point in the spring or summer of 2021.

Until then, view our installation of Carrie Mae Weems national project, Resist Covid Take 6!, which was recently reviewed in Forbes, and watch your inboxes for updates and virtual engagement programs over the coming months.

We are grateful for your continued interest and support during this incredible year.


Shelton Walker

Chief of Staff / Associate VP for Strategic Initiatives


Learn more about the Art Alliance.