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.

 

Becoming Philadelphia Series

Jericho Brown

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Jericho Brown will read from his new collection The Tradition that speaks to core concerns of everyone who is from somewhere else, becoming Philadelphia. His poems of fatherhood, legacy,...

Becoming Philadelphia Series

Ladan Osman

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Are feelings of displacement and alienation echoes of the longing Adam and Eve felt upon their exile from Eden? Osman’s work is a lyric and exegetic response to problems of race, gender, displacement, and colonialism. She is also the author...

Becoming Philadelphia Series

Taylor Mali

Sunday, November 10, 2019

We invite you to participate in this series of FREE poetry readings & our signature First Person Arts StoryShare Circles in the communities where you live. We want to hear your stories of becoming a Philadelphian Taylor Mali is...

Becoming Philadelphia Series

Geffery Davis

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

We invite you to participate in this series of FREE poetry readings & our signature First Person Arts StoryShare Circles in the communities where you live. We want to hear your stories of becoming a Philadelphian. Night Angler...

Becoming Philadelphia Series

Tina Chang

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The poems in Tina Chang’s new collection are an examination of mixed race through the lens of motherhood, and an open interpretation of violence selfhood and history. Tina Chang was raised in New York City. She is the first female to be...

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...

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

Past Festival Sponsors

Sponsor the 2019 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 acommonspace.org 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