Cultural Alliance Mourns Passing of President, Peggy Amsterdam

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance sorrowfully announces the passing of its president, Peggy Amsterdam.  She died peacefully at home on December 26, surrounded by family and friends.

As president, Amsterdam established a new vision for the Cultural Alliance, focusing on arts and culture as a unifying force for the region. Among her proudest accomplishments were: preventing the elimination of Philadelphia’s cultural funding in 2004; the release of several major research reports on the cultural sector and its impact on the region, including the 2008 Portfolio and the 2009 report Research Into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities;  and the launch of Engage 2020, a bold $6.3 million research and marketing initiative to double Greater Philadelphia’s cultural participation. 

Speaking on behalf of Amsterdam’s accomplishments, Cultural Alliance Board Chair Hal Real said, “Peggy established the Cultural Alliance as the collective voice of arts and culture for Greater Philadelphia, ensuring that the sector was an active player in advancing the region’s growth strategies. We are incredibly grateful for everything Peggy did for the Cultural Alliance, for our community, and for our region.” 

In 2008 Amsterdam worked with the Mayor's office to re-establish the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. Most recently, she led a statewide coalition to defeat a proposed “arts tax” that would have expanded the state sales tax to include cultural organizations. She was also instrumental in establishing long-term stabilization funding for the arts in the state of Delaware during her role as the Director of Delaware’s Division of the Arts in 1993.

Tom Kaiden, Chief Operating Officer of the Alliance said, “Peggy’s energy, connection, and courage inspired everyone she touched. I am at a loss for words to describe our sorrow at her passing. She was a great leader, and we will humbly carry on her mission of ensuring that arts and culture remain at the core of what defines Greater Philadelphia as a region and what binds us together as a community.”

Amsterdam served as a member of the Board of Americans for the Arts; a founding member of the Cultural Data Project; a member of the executive committee of the Greater Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; a member of the Forum of Executive Women and the International Women’s Forum; and as an appointee of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to the Mayor's Cultural Advisory Council. She was also a board member of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

She was the very first recipient of the Ray Hanley Innovation Award, presented by the United States Urban Arts Federation (USUAF) in recognition of outstanding individual contributions to arts and culture in American cities, and of the 2008 Fleisher Art Memorial Founder’s Award, presented to individuals whose commitment and effort have made a significant contribution to expanding people’s access to the arts, supporting excellence in artistic expression, and enriching Philadelphia's cultural resources.

She served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and on the steering committee of the National Arts Education Partnership. Amsterdam was Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts from 1993- 2000 and was a founding member of the Delaware Arts Stabilization Fund.

The Cultural Alliance board and staff share their heartfelt condolences with the Amsterdam family.  A memorial service will be held Wednesday, December 30 from 11:00 a.m. to noon at the the Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA. There will be a reception to follow at 12:30 p.m. at  World Café Live,  3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations can be made to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Please note that the Cultural Alliance office is closed until Monday, January 4th.


We invite remembrances and condolences in the comments below.