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Choreographer Jumatatu Poe '04, Filmmaker Tayarisha Poe '12 Honored by Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

Jumatatu Poe '04 and Tayarisha Poe '12


Among The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's 53 grants this summer in support of the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists are siblings from the Swarthmore community.

Assistant Professor of Music & Dance Jumatatu Poe '04 received a Pew grant, while his filmmaker sister Tayarisha Poe '12 received a Pew fellowship.

Project grants for events, exhibitions, and performances are awarded in amounts up to $300,000 and are designed to support cultural programs and experiences presented by Philadelphia-area artists and organizations for a wide range of audiences. The 2017 awards total more than $10.3 million and provide funding for 12 new Pew fellowships, 39 project grants, and two advancement grants.

For Tayarisha, news of the fellowship came while she was on a mountain in Utah, where she was spending time as a Sundance Director Lab fellow.

"I was standing next to a boulder by the river because it was the only place to get any cell reception, and I was so excited by the news that I nearly fell into the water," she says. "It's a privilege to be a part of a group of people with such brilliant notions about how the world works, and who put into practice those notions that they preach. I feel honored, and a boundless excitement to continue creating."

With her fellowship, Poe plans to continue her work with multi-media storytelling and helping others incorporate artful practices into their every day lives.

Jumatatu's grant from the Pew Center will support his new work, Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Formation, which derives from J-Sette, an explosive dance style borne from drill teams in the South, and the rhythms of pop and club music.

"My work, especially this current series," he says, "centers performance forms emerging from Black queer ingenuity." 

With live-constructed music and media design, Formation confronts historic imaginations and limitations of both: art institutions centering white aesthetics, and outdoor spaces within predominantly black neighborhoods.

Jumatatu is no stranger to the The Pew Center, as this is his fourth grant and had previously been awarded a fellowship. Along with the Pew grant announcement came news of him receiving a MAP Fund award, as well as a NEFA National Dance Project production grant.

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