First Person Arts, Inc

Bringing powerful and entertaining true stories from every community to the stage, page, on-air and online.

Philadelphia, PA   |
GuideStar Charity Check

First Person Arts, Inc

EIN: 23-3023995


First Person Arts’ mission is to transform the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art to foster an appreciation for our unique and shared experiences. We believe that everyone has a story to tell and that sharing our stories connects us with each other and the world. Our vision is to be a platform for artists and everyday people to share the compelling personal stories they must tell now. We will listen to the issues that matter to them and lift up their voices through our programs. Everyone has a story to tell and sharing our stories connects us with each other and the world. Embedded in this core belief is our organizational commitment to diversity and equality as vital to our practice.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Jamie J. Brunson

Main address

245 S. 16th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19102 USA

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Formerly known as

Blue Sky



Subject area info

Arts and culture

Population served info


LGBTQ people

Multiracial people

Artists and performers

NTEE code info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Performing Arts (A60)

Arts Service Activities/Organizations (A90)

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

First Person Arts Storytelling Festival

Our Festival will return in July 2024.

Previous festival events have included: #US Podcast episodes sharing stories from our archive and unique episodes curated around social justice themes; Virtual Grand Slam featuring guest judges from nationally recognized storytelling shows; In-community screenings of our film exploring the BLM movement in Philadelphia; Local artists pushing the boundaries of storytelling; and a panel of nationally recognized memoirists/documentary artists discussing the role of true, personal stories over the last 20 years in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Population(s) Served

Held monthly at World Café Live, StorySlams are storytelling competitions featuring amateur storytellers sharing five minute true stories, no notes, no props, no limits! Themed weekly events include Ex-Files on Valentine's Day, the winners of each month’s StorySlam compete at the Grand Slam for the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia.”

Population(s) Served

Bring First Person Arts’ storytelling expertise to your business or community organization! We offer customizable programs, all rooted in the power of storytelling, to empower individuals, build community, and open up dialogue around meaningful issues.

We design programs to meet your exact needs. We have used the power of storytelling to help women rediscover their voices through the Women’s Way Narrative Fellowship program, we have worked with health care organizations to help nurses better share their experiences with patients, we have coached Comcast executives to clarify and focus their points of view and through thoughtfully curated group experiences, we have helped build a sense of community around the City of Philadelphia through finding common ground with Story Circles.

We are regularly hired as consultants by a diverse range of organizations to create customized storytelling programs, which tackle specific issues of concern to our partner communities.

Population(s) Served

First Person Arts (FPA) are addressing the effects of gun violence using the power of personal storytelling to help heal the trauma that causes, and ripples out from, gun violence. We will target areas of high gun violence and low behavioral health service use in Philadelphia.

Small group sessions will use excerpts from the film TRIGGER as inspiration for learning how to tell their own stories. We will hold a Storytelling event, open to the public for those who feel comfortable sharing their stories on a wider stage.

To deliver the project we will work with our long-term partners Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility and the Free Library of Philadelphia as well as a network of front-line organizations and workers to ensure we reach those who can benefit most.

Population(s) Served
Multiracial people
People of African descent
People of Caribbean descent
People of Central American descent
At-risk youth

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Hearing a true, heartfelt story about someone's life, loves and losses is one of the best ways we have of getting to know someone, of truly understanding them.

That is what we are trying to accomplish; to get a few more people to understand their neighbors, strangers and people they may have never considered meeting.

Stories like these:

Christian shared his dual struggles of being a black man in Philadelphia, and of being a transexual MC in
the Hip Hop world. Ducking as a child in the car at the Mcdonald's drive-thru, while his mom asked the server
for a happy meal with a boy's toy so she would not be embarrassed for the child who presented as a girl at
that time. Christian first passed as a male when he found himself on the ground in South Philly under the
knee of a police officer for that old Philly tradition of jaywalking.

Or after a screening of our film Trigger, about the gun violence epidemic, and the mental health needs it generates, after a vigorous talkback session from an eloquent panel a man in the audience requests the microphone. He takes a silent moment to gather his thoughts, they seem many. He haltingly says "I've been shot before". Silence. "I;ve been to jail". More quiet. The audience is quiet too, respectful. A social worker sits beside him in the aisle and silently rests a hand on his shoulder; an audience member says "take your time, it's alright" He repeats himself, adding "I've found god". He says "I'm a living example of choosing another way". Behind the silence we feel the weight of the film, the pressing burden of trauma. After the wrap up he seeks help in the support room, and is connected with behavioural health resources.

Finally, Queuing in the supermarket to use food stamps for the first time, Kate held her infant child in her arms and the welfare card in the other. A man behind her in the queue saw the card and said with venom, “You’re welcome!” and “How many children is that?”
Kate never used food stamps again; she felt ashamed. She cried in her car behind the supermarket and ran through everything she wanted to go back and say to the man. To show him her scars from the domestic abuse she had suffered, to tell him how she and her only child were starting from scratch.

Kate had to work hard to share her story publicly. During 6 months of sessions with FPA, she built skill and confidence to tell her story with power. We ran the sessions with Women’s Way, a gender equity nonprofit in Philadelphia. We gave 7 other women the skills to be advocates to policymakers, journalists and other communities.

We are working with over 30 partners to find, showcase and share the best stories we can find about pressing social issues.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.61 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.4 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 20% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

First Person Arts, Inc

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

First Person Arts, Inc

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

First Person Arts, Inc

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of First Person Arts, Inc’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$71,671 $184,389 $58,534 -$36,796 $58,398
As % of expenses -13.5% 39.4% 7.5% -4.8% 8.6%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$72,209 $184,065 $58,210 -$36,956 $58,398
As % of expenses -13.6% 39.3% 7.5% -4.8% 8.6%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $512,239 $655,073 $752,872 $728,170 $767,730
Total revenue, % change over prior year 16.8% 27.9% 14.9% -3.3% 5.4%
Program services revenue 44.1% 4.6% 39.6% 44.7% 12.1%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 51.5% 6.7% 31.0%
All other grants and contributions 55.7% 95.4% 8.8% 48.5% 56.9%
Other revenue 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $529,023 $467,644 $780,996 $764,966 $676,832
Total expenses, % change over prior year 19.7% -11.6% 67.0% -2.1% -11.5%
Personnel 34.3% 41.2% 34.5% 61.9% 42.0%
Professional fees 2.1% 3.2% 3.3% 23.5% 30.5%
Occupancy 4.5% 6.4% 1.0% 0.5% 0.6%
Interest 0.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5% 0.8%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 58.7% 49.1% 61.1% 13.6% 26.0%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Total expenses (after depreciation) $529,561 $467,968 $781,320 $765,126 $676,832
One month of savings $44,085 $38,970 $65,083 $63,747 $56,403
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $72,761 $0 $19,525
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $573,646 $506,938 $919,164 $828,873 $752,760

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Months of cash 0.0 3.6 1.8 1.0 3.9
Months of cash and investments 0.0 3.6 1.8 1.0 3.9
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets -2.8 1.5 1.8 1.3 1.0
Balance sheet composition info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Cash $148 $140,840 $117,056 $61,227 $218,522
Investments $1,200 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $45,740 $8,393 $13,000 $174,312 $28,448
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $5,615 $5,615 $5,615 $5,615 $5,615
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 85.6% 91.4% 97.2% 100.0% 100.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 350.1% 60.5% 9.9% 65.9% 24.6%
Unrestricted net assets -$124,887 $59,178 $117,388 $80,432 $53,752
Temporarily restricted net assets $5,114 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $5,114 $0 $0 $0 $132,500
Total net assets -$119,773 $59,178 $117,388 $80,432 $186,252

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Ms. Jamie J. Brunson

Executive Director, Jamie J. Brunson, has brought storytelling to the stage within different spheres of the arts and cultural community for over 16 years. She served as managing director of New Freedom Theatre and the Providence Black Repertory Company and as Director of Institutional Gifts and Sponsorship for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. An award-winning playwright, Brunson is a four-time Delaware Division of the Arts/NEA grantee for playwriting whose plays have been produced across the country.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

First Person Arts, Inc

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

First Person Arts, Inc

Board of directors
as of 05/31/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Position Open


Term: 2024 - 2024

Jamie J. Brunson

First Person Arts

Steve Red

Red Tettemer

Michael Kutner

North Highland

Arianna Freeman

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Traci Green

Lincoln Financial

Dan Kaufman

Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania

Elaine Lindy

Founder, Stories to Grow By

Sara McCormick

Partner, Ballard Spahr

Guy Sims

Free Library of Philadelphia

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/17/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.