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Today, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) announced a $1.15 million gift from an anonymous donor that will endow the Director of Public Engagement position. The role, now titled the DAJ Director of Public Engagement, is currently held by James E. Britt Jr. and was established in 2016 to deepen the institution’s connections to local and student communities and build on ICA’s commitment to engaging wider audiences. The gift marks a significant milestone for the internationally acclaimed contemporary art institution and will also provide unrestricted annual support for ICA’s programming. Additionally, it will support a travel fund for undergraduate students, named the DAJ Student Travel Fund, in the Department of the History of Art at the School of Arts and Sciences to enable academic research and immersion in the arts on a global scale.
Since joining ICA in 2018 as the Director of Public Engagement, Britt has implemented a number of new initiatives, such as Pennsight, a student docent program designed to enhance visual acuity and establish authentic engagement between the viewer and the Institution’s exhibitions. Britt has also provided platforms for Penn students to combine their academic and extracurricular interests with contemporary art through an expanded student board, performances, symposiums, and other opportunities that allow for the incubation process to unfold.
Britt works collaboratively with Interim Daniel W. Dietrich, ll Director John McInerney and the curatorial department to further integrate ICA’s curatorial program within the curriculum of the University of Pennsylvania’s twelve schools and continues to strengthen and build new partnerships with civic, educational, and cultural institutions throughout the city. He also oversees a range of public outreach programs, including lectures and workshops, and is working to improve the overall visitor experience at the museum for all audiences.
“ICA is extremely grateful to this anonymous donor for making such a visionary gift,” said John McInerney, Interim Director of ICA. “Finding innovative and meaningful ways to engage with a diverse and wider public is central to our mission. As our DAJ Director of Public Engagement, James will now be able to significantly strengthen connections between ICA and the University while also expanding our partnerships and collaborations with communities throughout Philadelphia.”