Joe Conyers, Dani Allen making history with Philadelphia arts

ByWendy Daughenbaugh WPVI logo
Monday, March 11, 2024
Joe Conyers, Dani Allen making impact through Project 440
Joe Conyers and Dani Allen are making an impact on the arts community, performing and educating out of the Kimmel Center.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Joe Conyers is a lot of things, an avid weight lifter and former Mr. Natural Philly.

He is also the founder of a non-profit that teaches Philadelphia High School students life and entrepreneurial skills, the conductor of the All-City orchestra. And, since last year, principal bass player for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

It's a position that put him in the history books as the first Black instrumentalist in the ensemble's 124-year history to sit in the principal chair.

Conyers was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, and started playing piano at age 5.

But he found it a lonely instrument.

So he took up the double bass at age 11 and after high school went to conservatory at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute.

His non-profit, Project 440, teaches young people with a love of music how to foster change in their communities. Conyers says it's a non-negotiable need to invest in the next generation, just as others invested in him.

It's an outlook shared by Dani Allen. She sits on the Project 440 Board, and she's the VP of Education and Community Outreach for Ensemble Arts Philly, the new name for the Philadelphia Orchestra & Kimmel Center.

Allen oversees programs that touch thousands of students every year-from toddlers to adults.

The kids can be dealing with homelessness.

They may be in foster care or living in homes where they're abused.

Allen says the gift of art can be life-changing for those children.

It offers them an escape and teaches them the kind of skills that employers look for-like how to work with others and how to accept failure.

Both Allen and Conyers argue that every child deserves arts education to grow into the citizens of tomorrow.

Joe Conyers | Facebook | Instagram

Philadelphia Orchestra | Facebook | Instagram

Project 440 Facebook | Instagram

Ensemble Arts Philly | Facebook | Instagram