Partners for Sacred Places, founded in 1989, works to build the civic value of historic sacred places and the capacity of congregations to better serve their communities as anchor institutions, helping to shape vibrant, creative communities. Partners brings together a national network of professionals across disciplines and community sectors to develop and implement model projects that advance the health and preservation of sacred places. With a national presence and offices in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Partners fosters the active community use of historic sacred places in all 50 states and builds the capability of their congregations through training programs, research, fundraising assistance, and assessments. In 2017, Partners received Center funding for Playing and Preserving, an interdisciplinary project to build artistic collaborations and civic energy around Philadelphia’s historic sacred places and their pipe organs. In 2018, the organization received support for Grounds That Shout! (And Others Merely Shaking), a series of performances, curated by choreographer Reggie Wilson, exploring the African American religious experience and Philadelphia’s historic religious sites.
Partners for Sacred Places will collaborate with Philadelphia Contemporary and award-winning choreographer Reggie Wilson to present Grounds That Shout! (And Others Merely Shaking), a series of performances exploring relationships among religion, movement, race, and the body, with a focus on the African American religious experience and the specific context of Philadelphia’s historic sacred spaces. Wilson will curate performances by Philadelphia-based artists at religious sites along the Lombard Street corridor—host to a unique density of historic churches—highlighting both the broad narrative history of these spaces and their present-day status in a rapidly changing city. The project extends Wilson’s recent work with New York’s Danspace Project interrogating the history of St. Mark’s Church. Danspace’s Judy Hussie-Taylor will serve as a curatorial advisor to Wilson as he brings these concepts to Philadelphia. The series will conclude with a week-long residency by Wilson and his Fist and Heel Performance Group at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.
Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.