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WebPanel_Applied Storytelling(2)

Stories can heal. Stories can build community. Our Applied Storytelling programming places first person storytelling at the forefront of the healing process and uses it as a vehicle to build stronger communities around the issues facing us all.

FPA is regularly engaged by a diverse range of organizations to create customized storytelling programs, which tackle specific issues of concern to our partner communities. These stories are then shared with the public through the First Person Arts Podcast, YouTube Channel, press coverage, and live artistic performances.

Applied Storytelling brings together instructors, actors, artists, musicians, neighbors, and friends to celebrate triumph over adversity, and further our partners’ strategic initiatives creatively.

We’re proud of this work, and we can do it for you. If you’d like to have us design an Applied Storytelling project for your group, please contact Neil Bardhan at neilb@firstpersonarts.org.

Some of our past Applied Storytelling work includes:

BEyond Expectations: Engaging Males of Color (2015-2018) This one-of-a-kind storytelling series is a co-production with the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services designed to forward the vision of Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr. by promoting mental wellness for males of color in Philadelphia through storytelling. Celebrities and everyday males of color perform stories shatter misconceptions and celebrate resiliency. More info here.
I Want to Be: Stories Inspired by Jerry Pinkney (2019) This evening of storytelling is inspired by the visual narratives of Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney. Themes of resiliency that weave through Pinkney’s works provide a specific prompt for the invited storytellers. First Person Arts’ mission is to transform the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art that fosters an appreciation for our unique and shared experiences.
Freedom Seder Revisited (2014-2018) Each year since 2014, FPA has been engaged by the National Museum of American Jewish History to create artistic content for its annual Freedom Seder event. Inspired by the original 1969 Freedom Seder, where hundreds of people of all backgrounds gathered to explore and celebrate freedom in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, this communal event invites you to the Passover table for an exploration of freedom in America today.
Composing Our Lives (2015, 2016) In 2015 and 2016, FPA has had the privilege to work with some of the world’s best young classical musicians from Curtis Institute of Music to create two unique musical storytelling performances. First Person Arts worked one-on-one with exceptionally gifted students enrolled in Curtis Institute of Music to help them see themselves as storytellers, learn the facets of story structure, and incorporate their newly developed skills into fusion performances.
Sib Slam (2016) Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities engaged FPA to develop and lead a brand new series of storytelling workshops for individuals with disabilities and their siblings. This workshop series culminated in a live storytelling performance featuring true tales about how disability affects families.
Translation Slam (2015) Programs engaged FPA to reach beyond linguistic divides, and present an evening of personal storytelling spanning a variety of languages. Performed stories were all translated into English, allowing storytellers and audience members to explore our unique and shared experiences, wherever in the world, we come from.
Philadelphia Museum of Art StorySlams and Features (2012-2015) The Philadelphia Museum of Art has put storytelling as an art form on display in its renowned museum annually since 2012. First Person Arts has presented multiple themed storytelling competitions and curated storytelling events for the museum.
Coming Out Together (2014) Navigating the religious landscape can be especially difficult for the LGBT community, but not all experiences are quite as bleak as you’d think. For this event with William Way Community Center, LBGTQ and ally speakers from a variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds gathered to share uplifting stories about finding acceptance within their faith communities.
Beyond Sustenance (2014) First Person Arts teamed up with the African American Museum in Philadelphia on Beyond Sustenance, a series designed to explore the connections between African-American agricultural and culinary traditions. Beyond Sustenance used storytelling, fine arts, workshops, and food events to illuminate ways in which African-American agricultural heritage extends beyond the basic functions of providing food and nourishment.
Turning the Page: From Foster Care to Self Care Valley Youth House’s Achieving Independence Center engaged storytelling experts from First Person Arts to work with their youth aging out of the Philadelphia foster care system in 2013. By learning to tell their own personal stories, youth experienced the healing qualities of storytelling and gained skills in public speaking, story structure, writing, and live performance.
We Rise (2012) A collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and Achieving Independence Center, FPA created a performance for the 11th Annual First Person Arts Festival featuring Philadelphia youth aging out of the foster care system and members of South Philly’s growing Bhutanese and Burmese populations.
Finding the Light Within (2011) A collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities, this performance-based in community writing was designed to de-stigmatize mental health issues by paying tribute to the real-life stories of those lives have been touched by suicide. Finding the Light Within premiered at the 2011 First Person Arts Festival to a packed house.


Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: Windfall
  • Date: August 27, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: CSZ Philadelphia
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107