About Us

Bride HistoryValuesBoard of DirectorsStaff
Painted Bride Art Center brings together artists, audiences and communities to push the boundaries of how we create and experience art. We cultivate an environment for critical dialog and playful exchange to transform lives and communities.

Message from the Executive Director

Laurel Raczka, Executive Director

Over my 22 years at Painted Bride Art Center, I’ve come to think of the Bride as a work of art in itself, one that evolves and grows with time. It requires engaging in a creative process and time to reflect upon where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to be.

We are looking at our space on Vine Street and imagining ways that we can literally open it up to maximize the use of our entire facility. This will allow for new activities and the creation of a public “living space” that supports creative development and fosters new ways of thinking about art making. A new physical environment will allow us to develop more innovative programming and partnership models, helping to evolve the Bride as a vibrant place. We envision the Bride to be a beehive of activity with an open exchange of ideas and artistic endeavors.

As always, Painted Bride Art Center will continue to be a model for connecting artists and their work to audiences. Our work remains rooted in our history and the values that have built this incredible legacy over the past 45 years. We are grateful for our relationships with artists, audiences, communities and supporters like you. It’s with your help that we are what we are today and I hope you will join us to see where the Bride is headed next.

Cheers to year 45, and the rest to come.

-Laurel Raczka

Bride History

Original Bride location on South Street

Painted Bride Art Center is home to an intimate theater and gallery in Old City, Philadelphia.

Founded in 1969 by a group of visual artists, Painted Bride Art Center is part of the Alternative Space movement of the 1960s and 70s. In an era when underrepresented artists—women, gays and lesbians, people of color, the disabled, etc.—struggled to gain recognition from commercial institutions, the Alternative Space movement was dedicated to maximizing cultural diversity and visibility in the arts.Within a small network of organizations, Painted Bride Art Center strove to grant artists of every stripe full control over their work and a platform for their vision.

45 years later, Painted Bride Art Center remains an artist-centered space, fully committed to the creative process, the artist’s role in the community, and artistic diversity.

As a multi-disciplinary arts venue, the Bride collaborates with independent artists, supporting their creative process from inception to presentation. This support manifests in myriad ways, including identifying funding opportunities, cultivating strategic partnerships for audience development, and championing artists and their work to a now international network of partners.

The Painted Bride today

In its unique performance space, Painted Bride Art Center presents music, dance, and theater, as well as visual arts exhibitions in its two galleries. The Bride engages artists in outreach and workshop activities to elicit deeper, more meaningful dialogue with audiences and communities; some examples include ongoing residencies, public gallery talks where visual artists discuss creative process, post-performance meet-and-greets, and in-school presentations for students between Kindergarten and 12th grade.

Deriving its name from its original location—a former bridal shop on South Street—Painted Bride Art Center began as an effort to challenge modern assumptions about art and give every artist the platform they deserved. Today, the Bride is an innovative, internationally-lauded arts institution that remains strongly rooted in its mission and the needs of Philadelphia’s creative communities.

Values of the Painted Bride Art Center


We value the work of artists, their importance to society, their search for individuality and authenticity, as carriers of culture and tradition and guides to living creatively.  We value artists and artistic collaborations that transcend conventional ideas, rules and relationships and that present us with visions of how we might live lives of increased self-awareness.


We value the interactive participation of our audiences which allows them to more fully engage in the work and the risk they take in trying something new.  We value collaborations as they propel the inventive partnership of creative minds. We value the importance of dialogue and exchange between artists and audiences.


We value communities as spheres where custom, language, tradition, and history are shared and celebrated.  We value the power of a community as a space to amplify and dialog about issues pertinent to that community through art-making experiences.


We value artists, schools, organizations and businesses that we partner with to create opportunities for creative expression and further the impact of artists and their work.  We value relationships that are equitable and respectful.

Cultural Rights

We value the right of all individuals to use their own language, customs, and art forms (cultural expressions). We value the individual’s right to freedom of expression and right to hold to their beliefs. We value the diversity of all peoples and the challenge diversity offers to grow beyond ourselves. We value the diversity of our artists, our audiences, our co-workers, and our volunteers.


We value education through the arts as a life-long learning process.  We value mentoring and the process of learning from one another as profound forms of social development.

 Our Partners

Ars Nova Workshop        www.arsnovaworkshop.com

Asian Arts Initiative         www.asianartsinitiative.org

Barnes Foundation          www.barnesfoundation.org

Bread & Roses   www.breadandroses.org/

Bookworms Early Learning Center            bookwormselc.com

Campus Philly    www.campusphilly.org

Drexel University’s Center for Non Violence and Social Justice    www.nonviolenceandsocialjustice.org/

Drexel Univesity’s The Legacy Center     archives.drexelmed.edu/

Flying Kite           www.flyingkitemedia.com

Free Library of Philadelphia         www.freelibrary.org

Historical Society of Pennsylvania             https://www.hsp.org

Hope Partnership Charter School              www.hopepartnershipforeducation.org/

InLiquid                www.Inliquid.com

Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia   www.jasgp.org

Leeway Foundation        www.leeway.org

Mexican Cultural Center               www.Mexicanculturalcenter.org

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church    www.motherbethel.org

National Museum of American Jewish History    www.nmajh.org

National Performance Network                www.npnweb.org

Odunde365        www.odundefestival.org/

PAPAYA                              www.PAPAYAlive.org

Philadelphia Academies Inc.        www.academiesinc.org

Philadelphia Jazz Project               www.philajazzproject.org

Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement    www.pypm215.org

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens     www.phillymagicgardens.org

PhillyCAM           https://phillycam.org

Reelblack             reelblack.com/

Scribe Video Center        www.scribe.org

Small But Mighty              www.smallbutmightyartsgrant.wordpress.com

Sruti       www.sruti.org

Temple University           www.temple.edu

The Library Company of Philadelphia      www.librarycompany.org/

Universal Vare Charter School    universalcompanies.org/education/vare-charter-school/

University of the Arts     www.uarts.edu

William Penn Charter School       www.penncharter.com

WURD   www.900amwurd.com

"The Bride was the first to present a full night of Rennie Harris Puremovement in Philadelphia in 1998. Since then, the Bride has been instrumental in presenting many other hip hop artists locally, nationally and abroad." -Rennie Harris


spacer Laurel Raczka
Executive Director
215-925-9914 ext. 304
spacer Lisa Nelson-Haynes
Associate Director
215-925-9914 ext. 307
spacer Lenny Seidman
Music Curator
215-925-9914 ext. 308
spacer LaNeshe Miller-White
Marketing Manager
215-925-9914 ext. 303
spacer Matthew Thompson
Communications Manager
215-925-9914 ext. 302
spacer Blake Felix DiDonato
Technical Director
215-925-9914 ext. 310
spacer Lisa Solis
215-925-9914 ext. 309
spacer Cheyenne Barboza
Audience Services and Rentals Manager
215-925-9914 ext. 305
spacer Najja Zimele-Keita
Project Coordinator: Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Project
215-925-9914 ext. 306
spacer Jen Cleary
Production Manager: Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Project
267-908-3230 ext.

Board of Directors

  • Harriet Rubenstein, Board Chair
  • Joan K. Sloan, Vice Chair
  • Jennifer Pouchot, Secretary
  • Gene Muller, Treasurer
  • Councilman Mark Squilla, Ex Officio
  • Michael Beck
  • Daniel Cox
  • David Forde
  • Praveen Gollapudi
  • Victor Jackson
  • Spencer Lewis
  • Gail K. Lopez-Henriquez
  • Jennifer E. Jordan
  • Laurel Raczka
  • E. Mitchell Swann
  • Scott Wasserman
  • Ahmeenah Young