To support a learning pathway for creatives, Philadelphia native Questlove has partnered with the Ph.D. Program in Creativity at the University of Arts in Philadelphia to launch the Balvenie Fellowship creative scholarship, Philadelphia Tribune reports.


Partnership Sparked By Divine Intervention

The opportunity to launch a philanthropic initiative alongside the Oscar and Grammy award winner was sparked after the program’s director Dr. Jonathan Fineberg purchased a home from a seller who he later found out was Questlove’s Manager, Shawn Gee.

According to the outlet, “‘The Balvenie Fellowship,’ offers its recipient a fully funded three-year program in the PhD program of Creativity that begins in June of 2022. Apart from the intensive two week summer immersion and long-weekend visits, all course work will be completed via remote learning.”

The program will center on creativity in various mediums such as arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

“I created this Ph.D. Program program because we’re still using a five hundred-year-old model. It hasn’t really changed. It’s great for people who want to be very focused in a narrow kind of way and they know what the field is,” said Fineberg, according to Philadelphia Tribune.

Scholarship Awarded To Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis

Saxophonist, composer, and writer James Brandon Lewis is the first recipient of the Balvenie Fellowship scholarship and he plans to study the intersection of molecular biology and music through the lens of art, life, and philosophy.

“We’re honored to be granting this scholarship to James Brandon Lewis, who is already a well-established and incredible saxophonist. I’m looking forward to seeing what he achieves, while honing his craft in my hometown of Philadelphia, and the impact he will have on the music community,” Questlove said, according to Philadelphia Tribune.

The Program Welcomes Those With Professional Experience

The program is designed for those who have already received training or experience in their field and students will be tasked with researching how creativity brews within their profession.

“We start with accomplished people who are already professional researchers and very good at doing something creative. We use group critique and other ideas from art school practice. We try to break down the hierarchy of conventional thinking of whatever their field happens to be and create a committee for them from all over the world,” said Fineberg, according to Philadelphia Tribune. “There are no tests or exams in this program. It encourages its students to solely focus on researching for their dissertation and seeking advice from their dissertation committee, composed of three people who are experts in the students’ field of study.”