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The COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund Announces $4 Million In Grants To 467 Arts & Culture Organizations And 1,025 Artists

Aimed at quickly meeting emergency operational needs due to the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these grants provide a critical lifeline to the sector in a time of continued uncertainty 

June 30, 2020 (PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) today reported that $4 million from the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund has been awarded to 467 arts and culture organizations as well as 1,025 individual artists since it opened on April 13. This unprecedented collaborative effort, which was created by GPCA, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF) and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) focused on supporting individual artists as well as small arts and culture organizations (Annual budgets no greater than $250,000) and mid-sized organizations (Annual budgets of $250,000 - $15M) whose operations, revenues, work and livelihood have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by a $2.5 million grant from the William Penn Foundation as well as leadership gifts from The Barra Foundation and Wyncote Foundation, COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL was supported by both national and local foundations, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Connelly, Independence, John S. and James L. Knight, Lenfest, and Victory Foundations. 400 individual donors also contributed with gifts ranging from $3 to six figures. To date, just under $3.25M has been awarded to 215 mid-sized arts culture organizations, with an average award of $15,115.  Nearly $250,000 has been provided to 252 small arts organizations (Grants of up to $1,000) and $501,000 has been distributed to 1,025 individual artists (Grants of up to $500). A recent gift from PECO, which supports additional corporate contributions from PNC and TD Bank, allowed for a final round of funding to be granted June 29.

“The COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund was created to offer some relief from the immediate and dramatic negative impacts that the pandemic had on artists, arts and culture organizations,” said Janet Haas, M.D., Chair of the William Penn Foundation. “It is clear from the response to this fund that arts and culture are deeply valued in Philadelphia and across our region. We are grateful to the many foundations, organizations and individual donors that stepped forward so quickly to provide this critical funding to diverse organizations and artists who engage – and reflect – their audiences. Although this fund will soon be exhausted, so much need still exists within the sector.  As a community, we must remain committed to sustaining arts and culture as an essential part of Philadelphia’s path forward to recovery.”  

While COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL focused on the most vulnerable part of the cultural sector, it also sought to ensure that the fund was both accessible and equitable in the grantmaking process. Among individual artists, 48% of grantees identified as non-white and the artistic disciplines recognized by these grants ranged from Musicians (34%) to Visual Artists (29%) to Theater and Dance Professionals (20%).  Within the remaining 17% of grants made, those in education and instruction, literary arts, media arts, folk arts, and more were represented. Among small arts organizations, 72% of grantees were in the City of Philadelphia and again the artistic disciplines reflected similar breadth and depth to individual artists with Music (22%), Visual Arts (12%) and Theater and Dance (25%) organizations all represented and the remaining 41% being shared across myriad artistic disciplines.

A similar attentiveness to access in the application distribution and design for mid-sized organizations resulted in a diverse pool of applicant organizations serving a broad range of constituencies. The advisory committee was committed to equity in recommending the 215 mid-sized organizational grants. To that end, 133 mid-sized grantees serve annual audiences of 25,000 and below. 184 mid-sized grantees serve low-income audiences, at-risk youth as well as individuals with disabilities and/or health issues.  77 mid-sized grantees serve non-white audiences of 50 percent and above. 

“Arts Aid PHL shows how much arts and culture means to Greater Philadelphia – and how diverse the sector is,” said Maud Lyon, President, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “Individual artists and the arts organizations supported through this relief fund reflect the creativity and diversity of Philadelphia—two key characteristics that make the city and the region culturally rich. With our key operational partners, OACCE, PCF and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the Cultural Alliance is proud to have constructed and facilitated a highly efficient grant-making process, which allowed us to award and process nearly 1,500 grants in just 3 months, thanks to our partners, an active advisory committee, and the many donors who made Arts Aid PHL possible.”

“We’ve heard from many of the individual artists, as well as the arts and culture organizations, that the funding gave them time to think and adapt,” said Barra Foundation Program Director, Kristi Poling. “We were proud to be part of a collaborative process that sends a clear message that both foundations and individual donors are committed to the future of this diverse and vibrant sector.” 

For additional information regarding the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, please visit

About Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

Established in 1972, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is the region’s leading arts and cultural advocacy, research and marketing organization. Our mission is to “lead, strengthen and amplify the voices of a cultural community that ignites creativity, inspires people and is essential for a healthy region.” Our membership includes more than 450 organizations ranging from museums and dance companies to community art centers, historic sites, music ensembles and zoos. For more information on the Cultural Alliance, please visit