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Our past programs transformed complainers into choristers, storytellers into salespeople, and random objects into works of art. While they may be on hiatus for now, you never know when we’ll bring them back. If you’re interested in learning more about these programs, or possibly presenting them in the future, contact Executive Director Jamie J. Brunson at jamiej@firstpersonarts.org

2013-14 – Philly reACTS

Sometimes an event happens on a local, national, or international scale that inspires us to get up and scream about it, cry about it, and speak our personal truth about it. Philly reACTS created an artistic forum for responding to major current events including the Trayvon Martin shooting and verdict and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. Philly reACTS was made possible by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

2011-13 – First Person Arts Presents

Sometimes you want to listen to the pros. First Person Arts Presents starred leading artists in storytelling, music, comedy, and more to share their incredible stories from real life. Past shows include RISK! with Kevin Allison at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Stripped Stories at Union Transfer, and Slam Nation during the 2011 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

2005-12 – Edible World

In an Edible World, food tells us a story. These programs let you savor amazing cuisine while hearing a tale inspired by that food. Past Edible Worlds have included brunch with celebrity chef and New York Times best-selling author Marcus Samuelsson, memoirist and James Beard-award winning chef Gabrielle Hamilton, food tours of Philadelphia neighborhoods led by Rick Nichols, a candy pulling demonstration with Ryan and Eric Berley of Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionery, and a night of storytelling about kitchens and the food, family, love, and life that fill them in partnership with the National Museum of American Jewish History.

2012 – Story Market

When creating the Story Market, we asked, “How much is a story worth?”

The Story Market takes the familiar idea of a flea market but makes one essential change: instead of selling objects, the sellers sold personal stories. Vendors included popular storytellers and performers who sold their tales in a festive bazaar atmosphere at Christ Church and the Wyck House. Stories ranged in price and storytellers chose how they wanted to entice their customers, using sales, bulk discounts, coupons, bartering, and more. The Story Market was supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage as part of the No Idea Too Ridiculous Workshop.

2010 – First Person Museum

Ordinary things can inspire extraordinary stories. Your child’s beloved baby blanket. The salad bowl used by your mother every night at dinner. Your first passport. These types of objects were shared and discovered at the First Person Museum, “a museum of the people” at the Painted Bride Art Center during the 2010 First Person Arts Festival.

Photographer JJ Tiziou, filmmaker David Kessler, public radio producer Samara Freemark, and journalist Dianna Marder captured the stories behind the objects on display in the museum.

The stories were unearthed through intimate Story Circles held with community partners across the city: Art Sanctuary, Ayuda Community Center, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, Philadelphia Senior Center, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and the Village of Arts and Humanities.

The First Person Museum was made possible thanks to funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Wallace Foundation.

2009 – The Welcome House

As part of DesignPhiladelphia and in partnership with Marianne Bernstein, we curated The Welcome House. A 10′ x 10′ transparent cube in Love Park, The Welcome House featured a new artist each day and transformed into an art installation each night over a 10-day period.

Each day, the artist-in-residency created new works on the spot, inspired by their landscape and the people of the city. Artists included dancers Nicole Bindler and Liza Clark, visual artist Anne Moblard Meier, and multi-media sculptor Candy Depew.

2008 – Complaint Choir

The Complaint Choir turned the gripes of Philadelphians into melodies composed by Evan Solot and performed by a troupe of singers. A series of pop up performances throughout Philadelphia culminated with a performance at the 2008 First Person Arts Festival.

The Complaints Choir project was initiated by Artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen 2005. See all the Complaint Choirs of the world at www.complaintschoir.org. Our Compaint Choir was created in partnership with SPECTOR Projects.

2007 – The Story Tour

We canvassed the city in a brightly graffiti-ed van, picking up random strangers and collecting their stories, which we presented in video and on posters. The Story Tour brought out the beautiful humanity of the city in the simple stories of everyday people. Special thanks to our project partner, Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners.


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