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The Philadelphia Cultural Fund distributes $2.67 million to a diverse mix of arts & culture organizations

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


PHILADELPHIA — In a City Hall ceremony, hundreds of Philadelphia arts and culture organizations received 2.67 million in Art & Culture Grants from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund for 2018. The funds will help support 325 local arts groups in communities throughout the City. From small, volunteer and neighborhood organizations like G-town Radio and KyoDaiko Japanese Taiko Drummers to well established institutions such as Taller Puertorriqueño and The Barnes Foundation, these cultural venues are essential to the diverse mixture of arts programs which enrich City life. Mayor James Kenney and a host of city leaders attended the grant award ceremony in the Mayor’s reception room.

“Our city is all the more vibrant and attractive because we have such a dynamic, diverse cultural life in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Whether it’s music or theater or fine arts, our neighborhoods are brimming with the talent that is being recognized today and rewarded for their dedication and contributions. Support of the arts is not an option, it is an essential part of what defines us as a first class city.”

Since 1991, the City of Philadelphia has allocated money for direct funding for arts and culture organizations with a special aim to provide general operating funds, the most difficult kind of philanthropic support to secure, to arts and culture programs including those that are underserved by mainstream funders. This money is managed and distributed through the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which has distributed more than $45 million in 27 years. In 2018, while the arts continue to fall victim to budget cuts and conservative attacks, the Cultural Fund has seen an increase in the number of applicants and in the number of grantees who receive their support.

“Philadelphia has many Avenues of the Arts: Germantown Avenue, Cottman Avenue, Oregon Avenue, 52nd Street and Norris Square. We think of them as commercial strips, but they also should be noted for their role in creating the cultural treasures that make Philadelphia unique,” said the Philadelphia Cultural Fund’s Executive Director, Barbara J. Silzle. “Our work this year was especially gratifying as we increased the number of grants, including many that were first time applicants. It reminds us that the Cultural Fund truly stimulates art making for people who are overlooked by established funding sources and that need to cover basic operating costs to mount a production or exhibit or teach a course. Arts are very much alive in every one of our communities.”

The Cultural Fund is largest grantmaker in the City whose sole focus is to support and foster the mission of Philadelphia’s arts organizations, including those most vulnerable arts making programs in city neighborhoods. 45% of the grants were given to groups with budgets smaller than $150,000; 28% have budgets of less than $50,000. Many of these groups have no paid staff. Power Street Theater Company is an excellent example of the type of community arts making that the Cultural Fund helps to sustain and grow. In conjunction with West Kensington Ministries, they premiered Las Mujeres during women’s history month this year to highlight the impact of notable Latina artists, entertainers, scientists and activists on the lives of contemporary women.

The Cultural Fund has also prioritized efforts to discover and encourage community arts makers who have not applied for support. The number of grants awarded this year increased by 21, and 25 organizations were first time applicants.

“At a time when so many communities feel underrepresented and under attack, support for the arts as a vehicle for empowerment and change is more important than ever. I am grateful that the Cultural Fund takes such great care to find organizations in every community that reflect the many different cultures and ethnicities of this city of neighborhoods,” added Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. “We are also proud to give recognition to a group that lives up to the spirit of our esteemed colleague, the late David Cohen, who was not only passionate about the arts, but was a fierce advocate for justice and equity for all of our citizens.”

The 2018 recipient of the David Cohen Award is PhillyCAM, Philadelphia’s public access television station. The Cultural Fund’s Board of Directors established the non-cash Award in 2006 to honor and perpetuate the extraordinary legacy of the late Councilman David Cohen, a lifelong advocate and supporter of Philadelphia’s arts and culture community. The Award recognizes an arts and culture organization in the City which has demonstrated by its mission, programming, art-related work product, or services offered, an outstanding commitment to social and economic justice.

“We are so honored to receive the Councilman David Cohen Award for our work making it possible for people not typically represented in mainstream media to learn new technical skills and have an outlet through which to share their stories,” said PhillyCAM’s Executive Director Gretjen Clausing. “This Award has special meaning for us since Councilman Cohen was a key advocate of the fight for public access television back in the early 2000s. PhillyCAM would not exist without his leadership in City Council and mentorship on how to use grassroots organizing to shift public policy.”

For many Philadelphia arts and culture organizations, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund is a gateway funder, a source of assistance for first proposals and for “new and emerging” organizations that have been operating for less than five years. All grant applicants are eligible for an evaluation session with the Cultural Fund’s staff who provide professional feedback from the Peer Review Panel that will help strengthen their ability to apply for funding next year as well as to apply to other funders for support. The Peer Review Panel who evaluate and score grant applications and conduct site visits are more than 100 volunteers from all sectors of the industry including artists, administrators, technicians, and educators.

You can find a list of grant recipients on the PCF website.

About The Philadelphia Cultural Fund:

Established in 1991 to support and enhance the cultural life and vitality of the City of Philadelphia and its residents, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, through the combined efforts of the Philadelphia City Council and the Mayor, promotes arts and culture as engines of social, educational and economic development and has played a key stabilizing role for numerous organizations by providing much- needed general operating funding.


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