Message from the President: Lightbox Film Center to join UArts

October 14, 2019

Originally sent via email

Dear Colleagues,

I write with exciting news for the University and for the Philadelphia cultural community. The Lightbox Film Center, which has been a program of International House Philadelphia (IHP) for more than 40 years, will transfer from IHP to University of the Arts starting in January 2020. 

As you may recall, IHP announced plans to sell their building and embark on a broad repositioning strategy for the organization earlier this year in April. At that time, IHP also began the search for a future home of the Lightbox Film Program. 

I am delighted to share that University of the Arts is that new home.

Lightbox will join UArts as a university-wide center, fostering collaboration across our seven schools while continuing to engage the broader public. The transfer will allow Lightbox to continue to present an unparalleled slate of repertory, nonfiction, experimental and international cinema to Philadelphia audiences, while drawing upon and leveraging our creative community. 

As a part of this transfer, Lightbox's current chief curator Jesse Pires will join UArts as the director and curator of Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts beginning in January. Following the conclusion of screenings at IHP’s Ibrahim Theater at the end of the year, the program will relaunch in February 2020 with regular screenings on our campus.

As you know, we have already committed to building a purpose-designed screening room in Gershman Hall, which will become the primary home of Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts. In the interim, the Lightbox program will operate out of the Levitt Auditorium, and benefit from presentation opportunities off the silver screen within our many galleries and stages.

And while Lightbox has thrived for 40 years, our own Film program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. Together, the two bring 90 years of film experience to the Avenue of the Arts, and build upon two legacies that already share significant overlap and influence. Our own Wendy Weinberg, dean of the School of Film and Associate Professor, formerly served as the workshop coordinator for the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association as well as pre-screener and committee member of the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema in the 1990s, both of which were initiatives founded as a part of Lightbox, then known as the Neighborhood Film/Video Project. 

This announcement also comes on the eve of a pre-existing collaboration between Lightbox and UArts: the opening of Dream Dance: The Art of Emschwiller, which is the first major monographic exhibition of artist's groundbreaking work in film, video and visual art curated by Jesse Pires of Lightbox and funded by Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The project is set to open on October 18 at both Lightbox as well as our own Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery where the artist's paintings, illustrations and archival materials will be on view (more information at lightboxfilmcenter.org/dreamdance).

As Wendy has shared, we can only begin to imagine the collaborations and impact that Lightbox will bring, and I invite you all to join me in celebrating this momentous addition to the UArts community. 

-David