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$750,000 Arts Funding Program Announced: Engage 2020 Innovation Grants

$750,000 Grant Program Announced: Engage 2020 Innovation Grants Available to Stimulate Cultural Engagement

October 8, 2009
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
1616 Walnut Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19103

John McInerney

Philadelphia, PA – The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and The Philadelphia Foundation are pleased to announce a new $750,000 initiative to stimulate innovative marketing and programming practices among arts and culture groups in our region – The Engage 2020 Innovation Grants Program. This program offers arts organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region the opportunity to apply for one-year grants of up to $75,000 for the design and implementation of programs that respond directly to the findings of the Alliance’s consumer research, detailed in the report Research into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities.

“Despite the many financial challenges facing cultural organizations, our research reveals excellent opportunities for expanded arts participation,” said Peggy Amsterdam, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance President. “These grants deliver important venture capital for cultural groups looking to develop cutting-edge experiences for 21st century arts consumers.”

Released in September, Research into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities compiled results from five recent market research studies. The report provides 10 specific findings on how the region’s diverse population engages with the arts, giving cultural organizations the insight they need to engage more consumers, in ways that are meaningful to them.  

Highlights of the research include:
Philadelphia is a national leader in attendance with room to grow: In 18 of 20 cultural disciplines, Greater Philadelphia’s attendance levels are above the national average. Yet in a study of 17 cultural organizations, 2 out of 3 new patrons did not return to any of those cultural organizations within 12 months. Increasing frequency of participation will be a key to expanding overall cultural activity.

The importance of children and families: Adults with children have more active creative lives than those without children, but less than half see arts organizations as “children-friendly.”

The importance of non-white audiences: African-American and Hispanics report the highest level of “cultural engagement”, a broad concept that includes not just attendance at arts events but personal practice such as singing in choirs or writing in journals.  This is a compelling finding when combined with projections that virtually all population growth through 2020 in the region will come from non-white residents.

Personal practice is a gateway: Philadelphians are actively engaged in many forms of creative expression. The Cultural Engagement Index, one of the five studies, shows that, increasingly, it is participatory. There is a strong correlation between personal practice and attendance. For example, respondents who take photographs with artistic intent ‘at least once a week’ are about 75% more likely than the average person to visit an art museum.

The complete report and a list of the 10 Key Findings can be found on

As a key strategy of Engage 2020, the Innovation Grant Program seeks to provide organizations with the means to actually put this knowledge to use. The Innovation Grants will fund compelling marketing and programming plans that build on one or more of the ten key findings outlined in Research Into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities.

“This program will fund innovative approaches to audience engagement that can become models for the field,” said Beatriz Vieira, Vice President for Community Impact at The Philadelphia Foundation. 

Grants are available to arts-based organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region that present proposals that integrate program and marketing strategies in ways that will deliver high-quality programs of relevance to target audiences.  

Grant guidelines are available at

Letters of Intent are due by December 1, 2009. Organizations may request a grant award of up to $75,000. Projects must begin no earlier than July 1, 2010 and be completed no later than October 31, 2011.

Engage 2020 Research & Innovation Grant Workshops
To orient organizations to the findings of the report and the new grant program, the Cultural Alliance and The Philadelphia Foundation will present a series of public workshops. The workshops are free and open to the general public.  Attendance at the workshops is required to apply for the grants program.

Workshops will be presented on the following dates:

Tuesday, October 20th, 2:30-4:30pm
Lansdale Center for the Performing Arts

Wednesday, October 21st, 2:30-4:30pm
Chester County Art Association

Friday, October 23rd, 9:30-11:30am
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Friday, November 13th, 9:30-11:30am
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

The Engage 2020 Innovation Grants Program is supported by The Wallace Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Philadelphia Foundation, and is a program of the Cultural Alliance's research and marketing initiative Engage 2020.

Engage 2020 is the Cultural Alliance’s research and marketing initiative focused on doubling cultural engagement in Greater Philadelphia by 2020. Engage 2020 focuses on three key strategies:
•    Conducting groundbreaking research on emerging trends in cultural engagement;
•    Providing seed capital and marketing support to cultural organizations for innovative planning and product development; and
•    Applying new technology and emerging social networks in the cultural sector.

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is committed to helping community arts and cultural organizations thrive throughout the area.  The Cultural Alliance is a leadership organization of over 375 nonprofit arts and cultural institutions located primarily in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Its mission is making Greater Philadelphia the foremost creative region in the world.  For more information, visit

The Philadelphia Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties for 90 years. As a public charity community foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation manages more than 775 charitable funds, maximizing the strategic impact of charitable contributions. For more information, visit