Our neighbors are experts on our community’s gifts and challenges — and art and artists can amplify and creatively apply that expertise.

SPACES brings our neighbors’ insight together with artistic practices and partners from many sectors to create a more equitable neighborhood.

SPACES invites outstanding artists from around the world to live and work on our campus in North Philadelphia for up to 9 months. They’re matched with a team of community members (Neighborhood Artists), who are paid as collaborators for the duration of the residency. Together, the residency teams identify gifts and challenges in the neighborhood, and create an arts-based response using the artists’ media and the residents’ expertise.

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Program Goals

We want artists to explore ways to create, expand, re-contextualize, construct, or destruct space. What do we mean by “space”—physical space (public art, gardens, parks, structures, studios), mental space (freedom to imagine better and healthier futures) and socially constructed space (realities that are man-made, such as poverty, blight, gentrification, unemployment.) In doing so, we hope to creatively investigate the correlation between space, opportunity and the power of envisioning the future—specifically for, and with, a community that has historically been marginalized on the basis of race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, and/or citizenship status.

Inviting dialogue. Gathering together. Sharing space, meals, or music. In how many unique and compelling ways can you, as an artist, help make connections, spark conversation, and collect stories and ideas? Our vision for SPACES embraces two important objectives for community engagement:

Create opportunities for interaction and collaboration that are communal, visible and evocative.

Leverage the connections we share with one another, our experiences with the past and present, and our desires for a better future as a springboard for enacting change.

SPACES seeks to confront notions of what it means to receive and share information—dismantling the power dynamics of who is “qualified” to possess and translate knowledge. In this residency, our neighbors share ideas with artists, and vice-versa; artists and neighbors share those ideas and work processes with people all over the city and vice-versa. We’re hoping to pioneer a different way to exhibit and foster art-based discovery that is a direct result from what is created at The Village. Resident artists will convene dozens of arts, cultural and community organizations throughout the city—on front stoops and in museums—to speak about, and show, their work/process. No two lectures/talks/workshops will be the same. Your experience with the audience will be one of a kind—never duplicated and existing entirely within the space that you all create, collectively, through conversation.


Our community needs space. We are bordered by an ever-growing higher education institution, corporate conglomerates, and the rapid gentrification of neighborhoods in lower North Philadelphia. These realities add up to tremendous socio-economic challenges for our community.

The neighborhood is ripe for change. After decades of depopulation and disinvestment, a diverse range of stakeholders—including City agencies, elected officials, foundations, business owners and residents—are now investing substantial financial and human capital into the neighborhood. SPACES weaves together the efforts of these various development initiatives. We use arts and culture as a powerful and constructive tool for community engagement and transformation.

Artist Residences

Visiting artists will stay in one of two hand-crafted, rehabbed rowhomes in the Village Heart. They share a street with our administrative offices, Clay Studio and Digital Arts studio, as well as our beloved neighbors.

2512 N. Alder Street
The 2512 Artist Residency was totally rehabbed from a vacant shell in 2013 by PhillyEarth Director Jon Hopkins and Village student Nestor Rodriguez using reclaimed materials. It features reclaimed flooring and siding as the walls and ceilings. An artist favorite feature is our wall of cabinets, some of which house light switches, or surprises left by past artists! Outfitted with a full kitchen for Amber Art and Design’s Village Table residency, the home doubles as a community kitchen when needed for events.

2509 Artist Residence
This row home features a striking sculptural staircase designed by a local architect in collaboration with Lily Yeh. In past residencies, it’s been home to Dutch artists Haas and Hahn and local music producer King Britt. Its most recent color scheme of royal blues and greens was created to suit King Britt’s eclectic style. One key feature: the gold velvet armchair, a great place for conferences or contemplating.

Organizational Background

The mission of The Village of Arts and Humanities is to support the voices and aspirations of the community through providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. The Village inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that encompass arts and culture, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage and respect the environment.

Our legacy is anchored in artist-facilitated community building. More than 40 years ago, Arthur Hall erected the Black Humanitarian Center near the corner of 10th and Lehigh in North Central Philadelphia (now The Village’s main programming building). For Arthur Hall, creating space for people in the neighborhood to read, dance, sing and make music, was a crucial part of each resident learning and celebrating the community’s culture and heritage. Twenty years later, artist Lily Yeh continued growing spaces in the neighborhood, in the same spirit of communal care and compassion. For Lily, the beautification of physical space catalyzed positive mental and emotional shifts in the way that residents viewed their own lives and the health of their neighborhood. Using social art practice, both Arthur and Lily—the Village’s first artists in residence—encouraged people to believe in, and help build, a more beautiful and just future for themselves and their families.

Today—40 years after Arthur Hall taught his first African dance class, and 27 years after Lily Yeh taught children how to grout a mosaic—The Village continues to create SPACE.


SPACES is generously supported by Artplace America, the Knight Foundation, the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

SPACES program written and designed by consultant Desiree C. Thompson, for The Village of Arts and Humanities.

SPACES is a program of The Village of Arts and Humanities, a 501c3 organization in North Philadelphia.

SPACES logo created by graphic design artist, Gina Swindler.