The Annual First Person Arts Festival is a vital part of Philadelphia’s cultural landscape.

It is the only festival of-its-kind in the world dedicated to presenting art based on real-life stories by well-known and emerging artists working across disciplines. Festival programming connects audiences of all backgrounds around the commonality and wonderful nuances within the human experience. We have presented authors, poets, activists, actors, comedians/satirists, stand-up storytellers, theatre artists, monologists, musicians, and podcasters to Philadelphia audiences for 18 years.


Our performers have included Grammy, Tony, and Pulitzer Prize winners, nationally, internationally and unknown artists - all using the power of their personal experiences to transform the spaces around them.

We're proud to have presented...

  •  Ali Siddiq
  •  Ana Castillo
  •  Angela Davis
  •  Aunt Mary Pat
  •  Berneice Johnson Reagon (Founder, Sweet Honey in the Rock)
  •  Bilal
  •  Black Thought (The Roots)
  •  Chef Marcus Samuelsson
  •  Dael Orlandersmith
  •  Dani Shapiro
  •  Dave Hill
  •  DJ Rick Medina
  •  Eric Asimov (NY Times Wine Critic)
  •  Fatin Danzler (Kindred The Family Soul)
  •  Felonious Munk
  •  Geffrey Davis
  •  Hari Kondabolu
  •  Hungry
  •  Ira Glass (in partnership with the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts)
  •  Janeane Garofalo
  •  Jennifer Teege
  •  Jericho Brown
  •  Kathryn Erbe
  •  Keith David
  •  Landan Osman
  •  Margaret Cho
  •  Maria Bamford
  •  Martha Graham Cracker
  •  Mike Daisey
  •  Nadya Tolokonikkova (Pussy Riot)
  •  Ntozake Shange (in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia)
  •  Peedie Crack
  •  ;Philadelphia Poet Laureates Sonia Sanchez & Yolanda Wisher
  •  Philip Bailey (Earth Wind & Fire)
  •  RISK!
  •  Ruby Wax
  •  Story League
  •  Stripped Stories
  •  Taylor Mali
  •  Theatre of War
  •  Tina Chang
  •  Toni Morrision
  •  Ursula Rucker
  •  Welcome to Night Vale
  •  Yannis Simonides
  •  Zach Grenier

Sponsor the 2020 First Person Arts Festival

Connect with our young, educated, and highly engaged audience!

Listen to Stories

You can find recordings of selected Festival events online throughout the year on our website, podcast and partner sites like WHYY radio hour and podcast series, or NewsWorks.

Find a Story



Tell Your Story

With this full roster of regional, national and international artists, we still make room for people who don’t consider themselves artists on our Slam stages!

Learn More About StorySlams

We appreciate you!

There are so many ways to support First Person Arts, and every one is important. Learn More