The first 23 recipients of the $5 million PNC Arts Alive grant initiative will be announced today, providing funding for the expansion of audiences, programming and technology in the region's cultural arena, according to PNC Foundation officials.

Announced in March, Arts Alive is a five-year pilot for PNC Financial Services' charitable arm. If it is deemed a success in and around Philadelphia, the bank intends to start it up elsewhere.

"It really couldn't have come at a more fortuitous time," said Mark Packer, director of Appel Farm in Elmer, N.J. Appel was awarded $40,000 to support VirtuARTSity, a Web-based project designed to extend the center's reach and draw more artists to it via podcasting and Webcasting of master classes and similar offerings, blogging and postings of all kinds.

"It will eliminate our remoteness in a very significant way and draw us closer" to different audiences and users, said Packer.

The Philadelphia dance company Group Motion, recipient of $35,000, will expand its effort to move from stage to street. "We've for a long time been working on - and occasionally realizing - the idea of bringing the dance into public spaces, and in particular public art spaces," said Manfred Fischbeck, executive and artistic director.

The latest, most ambitious effort, will feature dancers performing on and around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, moving with their own music - via iPods and speakers attached to their bodies. Performances will launch at the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe and continue next spring.

The Philadelphia Folklore Project will receive $25,000 to support its Home Place Project, workshops and exhibitions that assist, document and showcase cultural histories and traditional arts.

"This is a really underfunded area," said Debora Kodash, the project's founder and director, allowing artists and documentarians from area communities to gain technical training, discuss their work, and participate in workshops and exhibitions.

At the Kimmel Center, Jamie Brunson, director of institutional gifts and sponsors, said PNC's $40,000 grant will support an expanded subsidy program to provide free tickets to underserved children. The Kimmel's community partners, she said, would choose what they want to attend and get tickets for virtually any seat in the house.

Other recipients include:

Bay Atlantic Symphony, in Bridgeton, N.J., $40,000 for a ticket subsidy program; Cape May Stage, $25,000 for a community development and audience outreach program.

Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, $25,000 for Opportunities for Educators, an outreach program; Greater Philadelphia Film Office, $30,000 for Philadelphia in the Movies Rolling Theater;

James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, $47,000 for "Icons of Costume: Hollywood's Golden Era and Beyond," a show of costumes incorporating Web and interactive technology; Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, $47,000 for Cape May Musical Festival audience development.

Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, $48,500 for Sharing Philadelphia's Stories, a downloadable audio narrative; Pennsylvania Ballet, $120,000 for Nutcracker production and Web page enhancements; Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, $40,000 for the 2009 festival and a program aimed at young adults.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, $70,000 for the one-day Every Family Party; Philadelphia Orchestra, $80,000 for eZseatU, a $25 subscription program, and a program for preschoolers; Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and the Pam Band, $30,000 for performances of robotic string and percussion instruments playing with real musicians; Philadelphia Young Playwrights, $32,500 for professional productions of winning plays; Spiral Q, $25,000 for Peoplehood Parade and Pageant, a West Philadelphia puppet/people parade; Wilma Theater, $30,000 for a program for high school and college students offering subsidized tickets, Web site and special events.

Arts Alive will also provide funding for service partners:

Art & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, $75,000; Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, $65,000; Philadelphia Office of Arts and Culture and the Creative Economy, $10,000; the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, $20,000.

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