The 2023 Velocity Fund grantees:

ID: The photo shows Shakir Ruffin, a victim of two incidents of gun violence that left him with a total of 13 gunshots and on dialysis, as he walks to the 46th St Market-Frankford train stop on his way to the Criminal Justice Center in Center City Philadelphia, to accept a guilty plea and sentence of probation for carrying an illegal firearm. Shakir is shown from the back, wearing a light gray hoodie, his head slightly bowed down. The time stamp at the bottom corner reads “00:04:05:07”.

American Made (working title)

Shuja Moore (he/him)

American Made (working title) is a documentary short series driven by the stories of young people navigating inner-city Philadelphia. Each episode is narrated by the leader of a local nonprofit and highlights the work the organization does to address the causes of intergenerational poverty within the local community. Episode one features Munir Young, Shakir Ruffin, Samuel Edwards Jr., Eli Cappella, and Kyle Kemp. It showcases The Education Culture Opportunities (ECO) Foundation and its interim Executive Director Kyle the Conductor.

ID: On the left is the playing card from the current Lotería set, and on the right is our reimagining of it. Our image is a collaborative product, where artists crafted handmade paper flowers, placed them into a bouquet, photographed them, and then digitally altered the picture to increase saturation, vibrance, and contrast, creating a more animated aesthetic. We chose to depict different species of flowers to highlight the diversity of humanity, and we utilized the colors of the rainbow to represent the LGBTQ+ community. The Aztec Calendar in the background highlights the pre-Hispanic past of Mexico.

Amor y Familia: Lotería in Philadelphia

Ivonne Pinto-García (she/her) and Eric César Morales (he/him)

This project reinvents a 130+ year old Mexican board game, Lotería, to create a safe, fun, and loving environment where Latine families can learn about inclusive terminology and practices around gender, sexuality, and sexual health. Lotería is a version of bingo, consisting of 54 cards depicting Latine folklore, archetypes, and iconography, accompanied by rhythmic couplets that are occasionally funny, playful, or profound. We replace outdated or offensive images with ones that celebrate the diversity of the queer experience in Philadelphia.

ID: An audience waiting in Vox Populi’s black box theater. They are masked, sitting in chairs or on the floor on pillows and a rug. The lights are on, and textiles and paintings are hanging on the walls.


Sarah Trad (she/her)

BB is a pop-up cinema and gallery that rents spaces to bring SWANA* (South-West Asian North African) cinema to Philadelphia and exhibit solo exhibitions of local emerging SWANA women and queer artists. Based on a decolonial and anti-capitalist art model, all art is free to the public and featured artists are paid for their work. *SWANA is a term used to replace the colonial term “the Middle East,” and more clearly recognizes the specific region and its diverse communities.

ID: Still from sci-fi short film The Love Machine, showing Jackson Mitchell, a dark-skinned young person with short curly hair, in profile. Red light permeates the shot, with large light pixels on the right of the image.

Della Can Fly!

jasmine lynea (she/they)

Set in a futuristic west Philadelphia neighborhood, Della Can Fly!, a sci-fi fantasy short film, reimagines the American Black folktale “The People Can Fly.” Following an elderly mentally ill man who is in desperate need to prove his sister escaped from earth, the story highlights the power of family preservation, disability justice, spirituality, kinship and love. Through community screenings and discussions, the project will encourage conversation and evoke ways to execute concepts for a black liberating future.

ID: Logo for The Fourth Trimester, in color Spanish Orange, in lowercase font. Each word is on its own line. The “O” is a graphic representation of pregnant people. Logo Credit: Giselle Marie Media.

The Fourth Trimester

Nikki Brake-Sillá (she/her)

The Fourth Trimester will be a multimedia project that uses documentary and narrative videos, installations, and puppetry as healing devices for childbearing people who have suffered traumatic births. The goal of the work is to give an outlet to those who have experienced trauma and assist in their walk to healing.

ID: Still from festival intro video in which MC Icon Ebony Fierce welcomes the audience while dressed in red velvet and floating in front of clouds. They share the screen with ASL interpreter Cheyenne Atkins with brilliant blue nails. At the bottom of the screen, caption reads “WELCOME TO HOT BITS, EVERYONE!”

Hot Bits Film Festival

Hot Bits Collective

Hot Bits is a queer porn film festival curated and organized by a majority QTIBIPoC (queer, trans, intersex, Black, Indigenous, People of Color) all volunteer collective who design sex-positive experiences centering QTIBIPoC self determined desire, joy, and pleasure. We operate under a DIT (do-it-together) ethos of care for ourselves, each other, and community. We seek to highlight underrepresented bodies as a means to celebrate anti-oppressive queer/trans porn tailored towards experiences, acts and stories often deemed marginal by mainstream society. At the festival’s fullest, it’s rounded out by workshops, live performances, visual art exhibitions, QnA’s, a match making cupid, elder honoring, trauma informed chill space with support folx, sex positive vendors local to the festival’s location and afterparties for connecting on the dance floor, dungeon, and LGBTQI strip club! 

ID: Close-up of a protest march, showing people of multiple ethnicities wearing T-shirts with the words “NO ARENA IN CHINATOWN” on front, holding various protest signs with handwritten text including “KEEP YOUR ARENA IN SOUTH PHILLY”, “PROTECT CHINATOWN”, “IF THESE BILLIONAIRES CAN STOP TRYING TO DESTROY CHINATOWN THAT’D BE GREAT”. Photo Credit: Joe Piette.

Let’s Talk About Chinatown

Yvonne Lung (she/her) and Tess Wei (they/them)

Let’s Talk About Chinatown is a collaboration between Yvonne Lung of NAAH (No Arena Arts Hive) and Tess Wei of RICE (Restaurant Industry for Chinatown’s Existence) where a series of 8 artist-curated movement-building events — music and spoken word performances, skits, teach-ins, panel discussions, exhibitions, screenings, artist-made quizzos, karaoke nights, etc.  — held in restaurants and small businesses who support the No Arena in Chinatown / Save Chinatown movement. Let’s Talk is a platform for engaging artists in animating local spaces and growing public involvement in a crucial fight for the existence of the community and culture, and against large predatory developers that want to push out local residents across the city in order to line their pockets.

ID: A pixelated photo of a sidewalk and storefronts in the Italian Market. Neon lights from the windows reflect on outdoor dining tables. Across the bottom of the photo is text: PUEBLADELFIA in large white serif font, with a stylized P, and EN VIVO in red script below.

Puebladelfia En Vivo

Jezenia Romero (she/her)

This project seeks to present an experimental performance, short film, and screening in collaboration with the local migrant Mexican community who lives and works within the Italian Market. This project aims to collect insight, preserve cultural memory, and celebrate cultural expression through experimental storytelling modalities.

ID: Two dark-haired, light-skinned people smile at each other through the branches of a papier-mache tree, strung with leaf prints made by students for the first sensory theater production.

Sensory Devised Theater Production

Julia Gutman (she/her) and Sarah Gordin (she/her)

This fall, students participating in the C.A.R.E Program at Julia de Burgos Elementary School and adult actors and creative team at Philly Children’s Theatre will create our second sensory theater production for children with disabilities and their families. This production will incorporate textiles, music, puppets, and visual art elements. Our sensory theater production in the Spring of 2023 (Season’s Magical Adventures) was the first sensory immersive theater production for young audiences with disabilities in Philadelphia, and toured to seven community partners for twenty performances. With the success of the first production, we are excited to bring it back and continue working collaboratively with our partners: Historic Fairhill, The Center for Autism, the HMS School for Cerebral Palsy, Autism Society of Greater Philadelphia, and the Wyck House, as well as expand our partnerships for this second iteration.

ID: A black box theater is dimly lit in royal blue lighting. A projection at center features a brown-skinned agender dancer suspended in movement on a patio next to water. On stage, to the left of the projection, the same dancer lies on their back with knees bent, arms and heels raised.

something soft

Mawu Ama Ma’at G. Oyesii (they/them)

something soft by Mawu Ama Ma’at G. Oyesii is a work in progress tracing methods of softening. This multimodal performance ritual utilizes movement, installation art and music engineering to develop meditations and communal lullabies. We invite you to add to our altar with offerings that feel soft, flowers, sea shells, beads and prayers are welcomed. Our main collaborators are Jah Elyse (Installation Artist) and Felisha George (Audio Engineer). For more information check out our website link here.

ID: Three performers wearing coordinating costumes of brown tunics, colorful shorts, and masks wield pool noodles for their play battle. The stage is barren except for conceptual “ant hills” made of large builder’s paper. They are lit by vibrant blue and red lights. Photo Credit: Christopher Sonny Martinez.


Very Good Dance Theatre

An immersive afro-futurist dance theater experiment, that spontaneously generates a new society by and for its participants.

ID: A woman standing on a wooden deck, holding up a piece of dyed blue fabric in front of her. Green and blue dyed fabric are hanging on a rack to the woman’s left. Two women are standing to the side on the woman’s right. A row of trees are in the distance behind the women.

Threading the Needle: Access for BIPOC Educators

Joy O. Ude (she/her)

My proposed Threading the Needle workshops will specifically train BIPOC educators with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to provide detailed demonstration and instruction in a selection of fiber-based art techniques.