The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is one of Penn’s gifts to the community, offering free admission for all visitors to explore its rich offerings of diverse, thought-provoking exhibitions. Now, a generous donation to the Institute promises to strengthen its bonds with the public and the world abroad.
This month, ICA announced it has received a momentous $1.15 million gift, donated by an anonymous patron. This invigorating show of support will endow the Institute’s DAJ Director of Public Engagement position, currently held by James E. Britt Jr.; the position works to deepen the institution’s connections to local and student communities and build on ICA’s commitment to engaging wider audiences.
Britt is already opening new doors of opportunity and originality since he joined ICA in 2018. He has led the implementation of new initiatives such as Pennsight, a student-led program that deepens participants’ understanding of contemporary art through critical thinking and empathetic communication. He is also working to further integrate ICA’s curatorial program within the curriculum of the University of Pennsylvania’s twelve schools, and continues to strengthen and build new partnerships with civic, educational, and cultural institutions throughout Philadelphia.
ICA is extremely grateful to this anonymous donor for making such a visionary gift. Finding innovative and meaningful ways to engage with a diverse and wider public is central to our mission. As our DAJ Director of Public Engagement, James will now be able to significantly strengthen connections between ICA and the University while also expanding our partnerships and collaborations with communities throughout Philadelphia.”John McInerney, Interim Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director of ICA
The impact of this major donation doesn’t stop there. The gift will provide unrestricted support for ICA’s broad array of programming, which includes artist conversations and panel discussions, public writing workshops and mindfulness exercises, and live presentations of written and performance art. It will also be a source of revenue for an undergraduate travel fund, now named the DAJ Student Travel Fund; this resource will enable students in the Department of the History of Art at the School of Arts and Sciences to conduct academic research and immersion in the arts on a global scale.
This important gift advances the priorities of The Power of Penn Campaign, extending the ICA’s reach and opening its doors to a broader, more inclusive audience. Support for the arts at Penn helps to maintain a vibrant atmosphere on campus that encourages creativity and artistic discovery—accessible not just to the Penn community, but to all who wish to enter and explore.