History and Mission
Painted Bride Art Center brings together artists, audiences and communities to push the boundaries of how we create and experience art. We cultivate an environment for critical dialog and playful exchange to transform lives and communities.
Founded in 1969 by a group of visual artists who had recently graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, the Painted Bride Art Center is a presenting arts organization located in Old City, Philadelphia. The Bride is part of the Alternative Art Space movement, which is a small genre of cultural organization in America that grew from a movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This movement sought to establish organizations where artists had greater control over the presentation of their work and were able to present the work of the underrepresented in commercial or larger established institutions such as women, people of color, gay and lesbian artists and the disabled. The Bride has evolved into an innovative, internationally recognized, artist-centered, multi-disciplinary institution.
The artistic goals of the Bride are to: provide a laboratory for “exchanging and exploring” ideas; support the creation of new work; collaborate and work with Philadelphia artists in creating and presenting new work; showcase new work that provides opportunities for community exchange and encourages activities and dialog beyond the stage or gallery; expose audiences to a deeper understanding of the artistic process; and advocate for artists and assist in furthering their careers.
As a risk-taking and innovative presenter of the arts, the Painted Bride offers a wide range of work – from the cutting edge to that which is simply new to Philadelphia. Spotting trends in the making, the Bride supports independent artists and the artistic process by commissioning new works and providing a forum for artists to gain synergy from each other’s energy. As the avant-garde has evolved to include more issue-oriented work, so have the efforts of the Bride evolved. The Bride is especially committed to Philadelphia-based artists and to linking them to community groups and issues.
The Bride’s core programs include world premieres, substantial commissioning support, and new work that challenges artists to further develop their work while also daring audiences to experience these artistic voices. The Bride cultivates sincere engagement between artists and audiences by providing access to the creative process through workshops, open rehearsals, discussions, interviews and program notes. We continue to support Philadelphia’s dynamic artistic community as well as international artists that travel from far distances to perform in the Bride’s intimate, yet world-class, theater.
For 40 years the Painted Bride Art Center has remained an artist-centered space committed to the artistic process, the artist’s role in the community, and diversity. The Bride continues to address the needs of the Philadelphia’s artistic communities while remaining a strongly mission-driven organization.