Stories can heal. Stories can build community.

Our Applied Storytelling programming places first person storytelling at the forefront of the healing process, and uses it as a vehicle to build stronger communities around the issues facing us all.


FPA is regularly engaged by a diverse range of organizations to create customized storytelling programs, which tackle specific issues of concern to our partner communities. These stories are then shared with the public through the First Person Arts Podcast, YouTube Channel, press coverage, and live artistic performances.

Applied Storytelling brings together instructors, actors, artists, musicians, neighbors, and friends to celebrate triumph over adversity, and further our partners’ strategic initiatives creatively.

Speaking Your Truth

First Person Arts’ Applied Storytelling programs can take many forms — from a workshop that helps participants to make sense of trauma in their lives, to a raucous public program that celebrates life and laughter, our work always reflects the specific truths of the communities that we work with.


We’re proud of this work, and we can do it for you.

If you’d like to have us design an Applied Storytelling project for your group,
please contact Neil Bardhan.

  •   February 2019

Penn Nursing

First Person Arts and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) collaborated to co-create a workshop and public storytelling event of nursing professionals discussing their personal innovations. We think of innovation today as relating to new technology but ideas that positively impact human health have a rich history in nursing. 

  •   2017 - present


First Person Arts works with professionals from the Dow Chemical Company to give them the tools to make the stories of their work as impactful as the work itself, so that they can share their experiences, and inspire people from Dow and beyond to make a difference in the world.

  •   2018

Philadelphia Contemporary Tattoo Slam

Philadelphia Contemporary tattoo slam: First Person Arts storytellers told stories of their tattoos for the Philadelphia Contemporary Festival for the People at Cherry Street Pier. What inspired them to get inked? Who was there with them when it happened? And how do they feel about their decisions?

Photo courtesy of Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

  •   Ongoing

BEyond Expectations: Engaging Males of Color

This one-of-a-kind storytelling series is a co-production with the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services designed to forward the vision of Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr. by promoting mental wellness for males of color in Philadelphia through storytelling. Celebrities and everyday males of color perform stories shatter misconceptions and celebrate resiliency. More info here.

  •   February 2018

The 76ers - Kids Can!

For the Sixers Kids Can! Youth Summit, First Person Arts joined young people who have already established themselves as social leaders and innovators in their community by showcasing the platforms they’ve created to change the lives of their peers.

  •   April 2018

Philadelphia Science Festival

Philadelphia Science Festival: In the Philadelphia Science Festival event "For the Love of Science", the Science History Institute and First Person Arts partnered for stories with a scientific twist. Researchers shared what inspired them to have an affection for science.

  •   June 2018

Queer Bodies

In collaboration The Office of the LGBT Affairs, First Person Arts facilitated this workshop that focused on the stories of Queers who have been historically forgotten by traditional beauty standards. Trans, fat, and disabled, all were held up and celebrated through story.Ten people from the workshops were invited to participate as featured storytellers in a show during Pride Month.

  •   2019

I Want to Be: Stories Inspired by Jerry Pinkney

This evening of storytelling is inspired by the visual narratives of Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney. Themes of resiliency that weave through Pinkney’s works provide a specific prompt for the invited storytellers. First Person Arts’ mission is to transform the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art that fosters an appreciation for our unique and shared experiences.

  •   2014 - 2018

Freedom Seder Revisited

Each year since 2014, FPA has been engaged by the National Museum of American Jewish History to create artistic content for its annual Freedom Seder event. Inspired by the original 1969 Freedom Seder, where hundreds of people of all backgrounds gathered to explore and celebrate freedom in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, this communal event invites you to the Passover table for an exploration of freedom in America today.

  •   2015, 2016

Composing Our Lives

In 2015 and 2016, FPA has had the privilege to work with some of the world’s best young classical musicians from Curtis Institute of Music to create two unique musical storytelling performances. First Person Arts worked one-on-one with exceptionally gifted students enrolled in Curtis Institute of Music to help them see themselves as storytellers, learn the facets of story structure, and incorporate their newly developed skills into fusion performances.

  •   2016

Sib Slam

Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities engaged FPA to develop and lead a brand new series of storytelling workshops for individuals with disabilities and their siblings. This workshop series culminated in a live storytelling performance featuring true tales about how disability affects families.

  •   2015

Translation Slam

Programs engaged FPA to reach beyond linguistic divides, and present an evening of personal storytelling spanning a variety of languages. Performed stories were all translated into English, allowing storytellers and audience members to explore our unique and shared experiences, wherever in the world, we come from.