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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

COSACOSA art at large, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Museums, Youth Development Programs

Mission: COSACOSA art at large, Inc. is a non-profit organization creating new public art specific to the concerns of Philadelphia neighborhoods in direct, long-term collaboration with city residents. COSACOSA reasserts art's original role as a catalyst for community dialogue, creative cooperation, and positive change. Since 1990, COSACOSA projects have brought together thousands of citizens of diverse backgrounds and differing abilities to learn about art, about each other, and about how to work together.

Results: Art can honor our past, inspire our present, and challenge us to create the future we'd like to see. COSACOSA's goal is the education of our citizenry and the empowerment of our city's neighborhoods -- that the project participants will continue to work together for a better future, within and without the boundaries of their own cultures and communities. COSACOSA constituents work together to achieve shared objectives, including • originating new community-specific art, collaboratively conceived and created by individuals of differing backgrounds and abilities working together with professional artists; • ensuring the permanence of a high quality, accessible arts program providing all of our city's residents with meaningful opportunities to create art;. • lessening the physical, social, and economic barriers that often limit the audience for art and art-making;. • exposing our project participants to artist-leaders who represent new ways of working and thinking from those role models they may have previously encountered;. • initiating dialogues on art, health and community that include a multiplicity of voices, abilities, cultural visions and values; and • building a sense of community ownership and participation among the project participants.

Programs: COSACOSA designs innovative programs to deliver interactive dialogues through art directly into inner city Philadelphia neighborhoods. Each year, through extended, community-based artist residencies, we engage city residents of different backgrounds, ages and cultures to design and create site-specific public art projects in collaboration with professional artists. Since its inception, COSACOSA has brought together thousands of citizens from over thirty city neighborhoods to learn about art, about each other, and about how to work together. Our approach is multidisciplinary -- incorporating many possible artistic techniques, from painting to theater, from sound art to ceramics -- as well as interactive, creating safe forums for city residents to dialogue and build their communities through art-making. COSACOSA's first major initiative, Community Collections (begun in 1990), examines Philadelphia's cultural histories and changing urban landscapes through community-based artist residencies. In 1995, a second organizational initiative was established, the Healing Art Project, a youth development program exploring relationships between art and healing. Young people in the hospital come together with at-risk youth from local communities for interactive dialogue to design and create permanent, collaborative public art. In 2003, two new initiatives were launched, Artist.Sight.org, a gallery featuring exhibitions by community-based artists creating for cultural change and Connection Studios, a youth-centered art and technology program.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

COSACOSA is unbelievable and a tremendous assest to the Philadelphia community and beyond. They are a model for social justice and service learning. They completely under gird all their efforts with a deep understanding of the differing communities they are serving and the unique personality and complexity that they seek to give voice to. Art is a form of voice and expression and COSACOSA seeks to empower these communities in such creative expressions. I am the director of Service Learning at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr PA and we have partnered with COSACOSA over the last several years in a variety of venues. COSACOSA serves as an important bridge to the Philadelphia school system and we have brought our entire upper school over three service day to work in the schools with their guidance and planning. We also have had our seniors partner and complete their three week service partnerships with COSACOSA and they have 100% found it one of the most inspiring sites with a felt impact in their three weeks of service. I feel honored to call them our partner in effective social impact and we are a better educational institution because of them.


Rating: 5

I had the privelege of chaperoning a group of 8 high school students doing community service work at CosaCosa. We had a fantastic visit, working on beautiful mosaics for Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. The "work" that our group was asked to assist with, was fun, interesting, engaging, and relavant to everyone as members of the greater Philadelpia community. I hope that we get to see photos in the future of these magnificiant works, installed, and enlightening the walls of the Hospital.


Rating: 5

The work that Cosa Cosa does is amazing and so valuable to both the volunteers and everyone who is lucky enough to see the results!