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’ interdisciplinary project Playing and Preserving will build artistic collaborations and civic energy around Philadelphia’s historic sacred places and their pipe organs. At the outset of the project, Partners will engage expert organ builders, organists, and Curtis Institute of Music students to survey 50 historic pipe organs in the Philadelphia area, assessing each instrument’s construction, age, and condition, along with capturing data on each congregation. The findings, including audio recordings of the pipe organs and photos of the sites, will be charted in a digital database available to the public. Partners will then select one of the sacred sites as a pilot space for community programming. In collaboration with Astral Artists, Partners will create performances and workshops that will integrate the history of the site and its surrounding community with live pipe organ music. Additionally, Partners will conduct a training program to help 10 congregations develop knowledge and skills for preserving their historic instruments.
Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.