Awardee: Annie Liontas

Primary Artistic Medium: Literary Arts


In unsettling times, we remember how the arts can connect and revive us. Love Spark aims to connect creative professionals and artists with their neighbors in Philadelphia who, during quarantine and periods of isolation, are unable to visit galleries, attend events, and participate in cultural programming. Writers, playwrights, musicians, visual artists, DJs, chefs, dancers and other artists will be invited to host one-on-one remote Zoom audiences with fellow Philadelphians. During these forty-five minute sessions, which will either be hosted online or held outdoors observing social-distancing guidelines, creative professionals and artists will a.) conduct skill-shares or invite their neighbor to participate in a collaborative experience b.) share an artifact or c.) participate in a Q&A about the artist’s work. Sessions might result in a writer reading a bedtime story to young children, a chef helping a neighbor prepare a meal entirely based on what’s in the fridge, a DJ building a joint playlist, a seamstress sharing a stitch, a dancer teaching a move, or a musician playing a set. During recruitment, artists will be invited to post brief introductory descriptions on Love Spark’s Instagram page. Artists will be compensated via grant funds and sessions offered at no cost to residents. If budget allows, Philadelphians will learn about Love Spark through Billy Penn, the Broadstreet Review, and will browse sessions and sign up directly through Instagram. Funding from this grant will support practicing artists and creative professionals, many of whom may be struggling financially in the current climate. especially after the elimination of the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. Online sessions can be recorded and excerpts shared via an Instagram archive. Artists will be recruited with the help of Blue Stoop and other community organizations.

Philadelphia boasts a robust community of writers, visual artists, dancers, and filmmakers—from Fringe Arts to Blue Stoop to Asian American Arts Collective. These one-on-one Love Spark sessions are devoted to fostering creative engagement in real-time and connecting artists to members of the community through performance, story, skill-shares, and conversation about theory and ideas. The forum safely encourages intimate cultural exchange between individuals and art in a time when many people feel apart, while recorded sessions document the exchange and invite a broader audience to participate. We especially seek to enfranchise those who may be isolating alone and community members who may in the past have been unable to participate in cultural exchange because of work or family commitments (or otherwise lacked access). In the absence of financial support from the City, and with the recent elimination of the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, Love Spark seeks to join arts initiatives responding to cuts in programming. We will compensate practicing artists via the grant while simultaneously making the arts available for free to residents during quarantine and the ongoing fallout of COVID-19. We expect to initiate this program in early winter and hope to extend it through 2021.