The William Penn Foundation has decided to provide short-term funding for Dance USA/Philadelphia, the service organization whose grant application was unexpectedly denied by the foundation last month after many years of support.
The grant denial sent shock waves through the local dance community, which relied on the organization, commonly known as Dance/UP, for a wide variety of services - from an e-newsletter, packed with grant-deadline information, to a robust program of subsidized performance venues for the region's burgeoning number of troupes and choreographers.
In a statement, Laura Sparks, William Penn's executive director, said that "we recognize the important role that Dance/USA has played in advancing dance in this region."
The foundation has agreed to provide $89,000 for DanceUP, a branch of Dance USA, to find places for its portfolio of programs. Sparks noted that the funding comes "after receiving guidance from Dance USA about what it needed in order to responsibly transition its work and staff."
Sparks also specifically raised the possibility that funding to assist in moving programs might be available.
"The foundation will welcome applications for one-time funding to support the cost to transition these programs to organizations that demonstrate an ability to sustain them for the long-term," Sparks said.
Amy Fitterer, Dance/USA executive director, who is based in Washington, praised Dance/UP as "an incredibly effective dance service organization and we are grateful to the William Penn Foundation for their support at this time. This grant will provide Lois Welk, director of Dance/UP, and her staff of seven the ability to close down Dance/UP in a thoughtful manner."
Welk and Fitterer have been holding meetings over the past week with members of the local dance community to determine which programs were deemed essential. At those gatherings, Welk has emphasized the need for "long-term solutions" and has noted that some programs would require funding even if an appropriate organization agreed to run them.
Welk said Friday that the Penn grant would keep her office open for at least the first three months of 2015. She added that Fitterer is committed to whatever assistance Dance/USA can give for as long as necessary.
In her statement, Sparks took pains to emphasize William Penn's years of support for the region's dance activities.
"The foundation has awarded 79 grants to dance organizations totaling almost $22 million since 2000," she noted. "Having been a supporter of Dance/USA Philadelphia since 2006 and providing the organization with grants totaling more than $2.7 million since that time, we recognize the important role that Dance USA has played in advancing dance in this region."