As spring winds down, the advocacy season is starting to heat up for Pennsylvania’s cultural sector. In Washington DC, Harrisburg and in Philadelphia City Council, the Cultural Alliance is hard at work advocating for policies that strengthen arts and culture and help grow our communities and our economy.
In Washington DC, the Cultural Alliance continues to fight changes to tax laws that would make it harder for donors to give to cultural organizations, religious organizations and other nonprofits. President Obama has proposed a budget that would impose a 28 percent cap on itemized tax deductions and effectively end up taxing charities. This would weaken nonprofit organizations as they struggle to recover from the effects of the recession and when Americans are still very much in need of the services they provide.
Last month, we travelled to Washington, DC to meet with the offices of the entire Southeastern Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to ask for their support. Now you can help out and add your voice to the choir. Click here and take action. Urge your Senators and representatives to reject President Obama’s cap on charitable deductions.
On May 7th, Cultural Alliance joined cultural organizations from around that state to take part in Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania’s Arts Advocacy Day. Representing Southeastern Pennsylvania were advocates from the Cultural Alliance, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum, Franklin Institute and Wagner Free Institute of Science.
The Philadelphia cultural delegation, together with advocates from across the Commonwealth, conducted 37 office visits, asking legislators to support level funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts at $8.179 million, include $18.5 million for general government operations for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museums Commission (PHMC) and restore funding to the level of $9.6 million for general operations support grants through PHMC. Additionally, we asked for support for zoos, tourism and an increase to the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit. (For a full list of Citizen’s 2013 legislative priorities, click here [pdf].)
With the Pennsylvania House of Representatives set to respond to Governor Corbett with their own budget proposal on May 28, these meeting were an opportunities to remind our elected officials that the regions’ cultural sector provides $3.3 billion in economic impact, 44,000 jobs and $169 million in state and local tax revenues.
At the City level, the Cultural Alliance has taken the lead in advocating for greater public support for the region’s cultural sector through both a restoration to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and by building meaningful partnerships across a host of quality of life issues with the goal of making Philadelphia and the region a better place to live, work and raise a family.
On Tuesday April 23rd, Cultural Alliance President Tom Kaiden testified at a City Council budget hearing, where he made it clear: either the City reverses prior cuts to cultural funding and increases its support, or the City risks losing its competitive advantage.
“Today, the hard truth is that we can’t afford to coast on the bold policies of the past,” Kaiden told Council. “If we want continued growth, if we want to keep reading about Philadelphia as the #1 cultural destination in the country, then we need to increase funding for the arts.” He explained that while Philadelphia “has reduced its funding over recent years, other cities and regions are making big investments in their cultural product” and that the city has fallen behind New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Charlotte, Denver and even Pittsburgh in terms of per-capita spending on arts and culture.
The Cultural Alliance’s GroundSwell campaign, that’s building a movement of residents who support art and culture, libraries, and parks to improve the communities and neighborhoods throughout region, continues to pick up steam. Over the past month, we invited PIFA street fair attendees to draw their Philadelphia, put more than 700 books in the hands of Philadelphia school children through the GroundSwell/Philadelphia READS! bookdrive, and helped clean up West Philadelphia’s Clark Park as part of Love Your Park Day.
Most recently, GroundSwell and the Cultural Alliance have partnered with the PCCY, Public Citizens for Children and Youth to fight for public school funding and to help keep arts and music programs in Philadelphia’s schools. Together, they held the first of a series of direct actions on Thursday, May 15 when students from Nebinger and Middle Years Alternative Schools broke out into song outside City Council chambers. They then presented Arts Education Hero capes to Councilpersons Maria Quinones Sanchez and Blondell Reynolds Brown in recognition for their efforts to find more funding for the city’s ailing school district.
Going forward, PCCY and GroundSwell will continue to hold direct actions on a weekly basis to draw attention to the need to adequately fund the public schools and arts education programs. To keep informed and find out about the next action, like GroundSwell on Facebook.
Don’t forget to vote! Tuesday, May 21 is primary election day. On that ballot is a seat on the Superior Court and several local races, including Philadelphia Comptroller and District Attorney. For a full list of offices up for election and to find your polling place, visit the Committee of Seventy website.
On Saturday, May 11, GroundSwell pitched in at Clark Park for LOVE Your Park Week. Then on Sunday, May 12, we finished up our children's book donation drive for Philadelphia READS!
We're in the planning stages for our June action campaign now. You can sign up for our email list to make sure you don't miss the details, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter! In the meantime, here's a recap of the park clean-up and book drive:
GroundSwell volunteers joined the Friends of Clark Park on LOVE Your Park Spring Service Day for a morning of planting, mulching and raking to fortify and beautify Clark Park for the spring and summer seasons.
It was a truly vibrant day at the park, which is one of our region's greatest outdoor cultural hubs. Clark Park is home to the Shakespeare in Clark Park theater company and the city's largest year-round farmers' market, which was in full swing during our clean-up! Volunteers also got to stick around after we were finished to enjoy the music, kids' activities, craft vendors and food trucks at the annual Spruce Hill May Fair.
Here's one of the pictures from the day—a shot of Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance President Tom Kaiden and Research Analyst Nick Crosson pitching in with weeding! You can find more pictures of the clean-up on Facebook.
We also finished up our month-long children's book donation drive for Philadelphia READS last weekend. The numbers are in, and we collected 752 books at our Center City drop-off point alone! Our partners at the Penn Museum, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Arthur Ross Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art and the Office of Community and Public Affairs at Penn are still counting their books, but the numbers are looking good so far—we're ready to call this campaign a success! GroundSwell team members and Cultural Alliance staff took a photo to celebrate:
We'll sort and label the books, then take them to the book bank at Philadelphia READS. Since 2006, Philadelphia READS has donated over a quarter of a million books to Philadelphia's classroom teachers. Studies have shown that children who are not independent readers by the third grade are rarely able to catch up later on, so it's their mission to make sure Philadelphia's youngest and neediest children have the resources they need to become strong readers as early as possible. With all the generous donations to the GroundSwell & Penn Museum Book Drive, we'll be able to help them reach even more students, and "do something good for a change" in our region!
Hundreds of arts supporters stopped by the GroundSwell booth to find out more about how to "do something good for a change" in Greater Philly, and a few lucky GroundSwell supporters got to play quizzo with our partners Philly in Focus and Johnny Goodtimes.
We were able to spread the word about the GroundSwell mission to make the Philadelphia region a better place to live, work and play, and we also had a ton of great artists—from amateurs to pros—draw us a picture of what their Philadelphia looks like, then pose for pictures on our Philly-style stoop. Here are a few of the results. You can find the rest in the GroundSwell at PIFA album on Facebook—and please don't forget to "like" the GroundSwell page!
During the afternoon, festival-goers also competed head-to-head in Philly arts, culture and history quizzo with Johnny Goodtimes, and our partners Philly In Focus captured all the action! Click the play button below to watch the video on the Cultural Alliance Philly In Focus Channel and see how your local trivia skills match up against our brave contestants.
What Is Philly In Focus? Philly In Focus is a new community-driven, local media platform designed to connect the personalities, businesses and organizations that make this city great.
Want to join Philly In Focus? It is completely free for local businesses, organizations and groups to create a channel, where you can manage and share your videos, photos, events and more. With Philly In Focus’ tools, you can:
Publish videos, photos and events and connect locally
On Tuesday, April 23, Cultural Alliance President Tom Kaiden delivered the following testimony on the state of the cultural community and a petition signed by more than a thousand residents calling for the restoration of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund to members of Philadelphia's City Council.
Good evening Council President Clarke and members of City Council. Thank you for the privilege of speaking with you today.
My name is Tom Kaiden and I am the President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance which represents over 400 regional museums, theaters, libraries and cultural organizations, nearly 3/4 of which located here in the City of Philadelphia.
And although this is a budget hearing, today I actually want to talk about receipts--how arts and culture can make Philadelphia better, and how we can help bring more revenue into our City’s coffers.
This past year, we published an important economic research study that shows that arts and culture generates $2.8 billion in economic impact for Philadelphia County. This spending supports nearly 30,000 jobs, and returns $59 million in much-needed municipal tax revenues for the City. $59 million in tax receipts. That money is a return on the city’s historical investment in arts and culture.
That said, the arts impact is now clear, but our City’s cultural assets face two serious challenges in the years ahead.
The first one is internal. Half of Philadelphia’s cultural organizations are now operating in the red. Average operating margins, which had already been thin before the recession, have dropped from +2% in 2007 to -9%. Why is that? Because despite rising sales of tickets, memberships and subscriptions, there have been substantial cuts to foundations, corporate and government support that have left too many cultural organizations on the verge of bankruptcy.
Such a collapse would threaten the city’s reputation as a world class cultural destination. We spend millions of dollars on marketing for tourism, conventions and economic development with the promise of great food, great entertainment and fantastic arts and culture. What happens if we can’t open the doors? Will visitors return? What will they tell their friends and neighbors about us?
The second challenge is external. While Philadelphia has reduced its funding over recent years, other cities and regions are making big investments in their cultural product to capture market share, jobs and tax receipts. They are coming after us. Here specifically is what the competitive threat looks like.
Minnesota is investing $1.2 billion in arts and cultural heritage over 25 years. That’s roughly $48 million per year.
Detroit and its surrounding counties have a millage tax that raises $22 million for the Detroit Arts Institute.
Portland, Oregon just passed an arts tax of $35 per resident that is expected to raise $12.2 million annually in the years to come.
Pittsburgh’s Regional Asset District raised more than $167 million in 2011 to help fund arts and culture, libraries and parks and other quality of life initiatives.
At the same time, here in Philadelphia, we cut the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the city’s signature arts funding program, by half in 2010. When you look at what our close competitors spend per-capita on arts and culture, the threat is clear. Philadelphia now comes in last, behind New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Charlotte, Denver and even Pittsburgh. These cities are all going after our cultural tourism dollars, our highly-skilled workers and our employers and they’re investing in a vibrant cultural scene to do it.Ironically, the City of Philadelphia actually wrote the game plan for a competitive creative sector. This Council created the first Percent for Art program in the country. Your funding for the Mural Arts Program, the Cultural Fund, the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, the Philadelphia History Museum and the African American Museum have made this city unique.
Today, the hard truth is that we can’t afford to coast on the bold policies of the past. If we want continued growth, if we want to keep reading about Philadelphia as the #1 cultural destination in the country, then we need to increase funding for the arts. The long term solution is sustainable dedicated funding like they have in Minnesota and Pittsburgh, but that will take a lot of hard work and enabling legislation from Harrisburg. We’re up for the fight, and we hope you’ll join us.
In the short term, there is some triage we need to do now, in this budget. Restore the Philadelphia Cultural Fund to $3.2 million. Doing this would cost residents of Philadelphia an average of $1 per person per year. Today, I bring to you a petition signed by more than a thousand Philadelphians who would be happy to pay that extra dollar. They understand, as you and I do, that arts and culture are a source of pride for the city and a crucial economic engine. I hope we have your support.
Thank you for your time.
*Chart Sources: Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project (Philadelphia), Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (Denver), Allegheny Regional Asset District (Pittsburgh), Arts & Science Council (Charlotte), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Creative Advocacy Network (Portland), San Francisco Arts Commission. All financial figures are from either published reports or direct communication from each agency or organization.
Census 2010 figures used for all geographies to calculate per capita figures
The Pennsylvania Economy League, Inc. (PEL) and the PA Health Funders Collaborative (PHFC) released a new report that shows that expanding Medicaid to low-income Pennsylvanians as part of the Affordable Care Act would increase economic activity in the state and result in fiscal savings, despite state cost increases over time.
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Once again this year, cultural advocates from our region travelled to Washington DC to participate in Arts Advocacy Day. On April 9th, a contingent of nineteen people, anchored by eleven students from Drexel’s Arts Administration program, met with staff of all of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s legislators to talk about a number of important cultural policy issues.
Among the issues discussed in offices and hallways on the Hill, was the importance of maintaining tax deductions for charitable contributions. There’s seems to be strong support among both Republicans and Democrats from our region to preserve incentives for charitable giving. This is good news given the ongoing efforts to close tax loopholes as budget and deficit negotiation proceed.
Other advocacy asks covered in the meetings included:
Supporting the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, legislation to allow creators of original works to deduct the fair-market value of their works given to and retained by a nonprofit institution.
Enacting the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, which will require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reduce the total processing time for visa for foreign guest artists.
Supporting robust funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Museum Services and the Department of Education’s Arts in Education program.
Americans for the Arts, sponsor of Arts Advocacy Day, hosted a day of preparatory meetings on Monday, April 8th capped off that evening with the 26th Annual Nancy Hank’s Lecture featuring renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Yo-Yo wowed the audience with his speech and a performance!
Greg Holt and Gabrielle Revlock, both of DanceUP, Jennifer Pratt Johnson from Lantern Theater and Florcy Morisset, owner of Vivant Art Collection, joined Cultural Alliance staff and the Drexel Arts Adminstration students for the advocacy trip. Lindsey Gearhart led the Drexel group, which included Michelle Baxter, Miri Bilker, Morgan Gengo, Amber Lauletta, Kristine Medley Farmer, Asim Naqvi, Rachel Olenick, Aliina Ross, Yue Su, Evan Yu and Jaclyne Hopkins.
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) has launched a new campaign called Philadelphia Neighborhoods that spotlights 14 fun and culture filled neighborhoods outside Center City. Check out the Philadelphia Neighborhoods section of visitphilly.com to explore neighborhoods’ storied streets, buzzed-about restaurants, emerging art galleries, independent shops, intimate music venues, plentiful parks and annual festivals.
The neighborhoods included in the project are Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Callowhill, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Queen Village, Bella Vista, Pennsport, East Passyunk, Graduate Hospital, University City, Powelton Village, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park.
With an eye toward driving overnight visitation, GPTMC chose to feature neighborhoods that are a 15-minute walk or ride from Center City hotels. But the extensive information and interactive feature available on the website make it a valuable resource for both locals and visitors.
Join Tom Kaiden, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, on April 23 as he testifies on the state of arts and culture in Philadelphia at City Council’s budget hearing. Come show your support as Tom makes the case for more stable regional funding and delivers a petition to restore the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and.
On April 23rd, Cultural Alliance President Tom Kaiden will testify at City Council on the state of Philadelphia’s cultural sector. With him, he’ll bring a petition signed by hundreds of Philadelphia residents calling for restored funding for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which had its budget slashed from $3.2 million in 2010 to $1.6 million.
Here’s how you can support arts and culture in Philadelphia:
First, sign our petition and join over one thousand fellow Philadelphians in supporting restored funding for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
Second, attend the budget hearing on April 23 at 6:00 PM and let City Council know that Philadelphia stands up for arts and culture.
Arts and Culture is an economic driver that generates $3.3 billion jobs, 44,000 full-time jobs, and $169 million in much needed tax revenues. It is a competitive asset that is helping transform our neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians. It is a community asset that provides opportunities for learning and personal growth for residents of all ages and backgrounds.
However, even as Philadelphia’s reputation as an arts capital gains national recognition, the cultural organizations who make it possible are vulnerable. Despite increases in attendance, ticket sales and subscriptions, deep cuts in funding from governments and foundations have left many cultural groups struggling.
These arts and cultural groups are crucial to the communities that they serve. Organizations and projects that are supported by grants from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund include Art-Reach, whose programs and services annually connect over 15,000 people with disabilities or economic disadvantages to engaging artistic and cultural experiences; ArtWell, a nonprofit with a focus on helping kids and teenagers navigate the challenges of self-discovery and growing up; the Clay Studio’s Claymobile van has traveled to schools throughout our region to deliver pop-up art classes to students in need; and many more.
Show your support for Philadelphia’s cultural sector and all the great work they do. Join us on April 23rd and show City Council that you support a strong and culturally vital Philadelphia.
The Arts Relief Course of the BuildaBridge Institute is a one-day training course for creative artists, educators, and social service and community workers who want to serve in global areas of crisis.
Offered in an alliance with the Red Cross, the course provides training in Psychological First Aid and Arts Relief. This is a hands-on, practical course with experiences designed to give volunteers basic skills for working with those experiencing trauma due to war, disaster, and catastrophe; for supporting local organizations; being a member of a larger relief effort; knowing the role of artists; integrating the arts in relief work; and assessing your impact.
The course will include viewing videotaped scenarios, group response exercises, and role plays. Certificate for Psychological First Aid provided by Red Cross upon completion of course.