Here’s what the president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has learned in her first year - Generocity Philly


Feb. 18, 2016 12:44 pm

Here’s what the president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has learned in her first year

"The challenges that we’re facing here in Philadelphia are not unique to us," she said.

Maud Lyon.

(Courtesy photo)

Maud Lyon has been in Philly for one year, and in that year, she’s realized some things about how our arts and culture community compares to others across the country.

In an interview with Generocity last February, the then-new president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance said, “The problems that Philadelphia is facing are the same problems that you’re seeing all around the country.” The Detroit expat was referring to problems of funding and building audiences, which are understood to be mainstays of such a community, but also “creating ways for arts and culture to both be sustainable as well as also be able to adapt to changing tastes and desires and needs.”

She was idealistic about Philadelphia’s role in solving those problems, too: “If we can crack that nut here, it’s going to have national significance,” she said.

Has she found those initial assumptions of challenges to be accurate?

“I’ve found that to be absolutely true, that the challenges that we’re facing here in Philadelphia are not unique to us,” she said last week.

GPCA has been continually focused on three main issues during her time leading it, Lyon said:

  1. Individual giving to arts and culture — “Individuals have always been the majority of support for arts and culture” when considering ticket sales, memberships, gifts and more, she said. GPCA has been examining how it can encourage patrons to give more.
  2. Education — Especially “the importance of arts and culture as a vehicle for learning, especially for the kids who are the most challenged, and the importance of connecting the cultural assets of our community to the educational system.” The nonprofit has been reaching out to educators and those involved in education in general to determine where and how it can help make those connections.
  3. Diversity, equity and inclusion — These are national issues that arts and culture deal with, too. “We need to be a reflection of those communities [we’re in],” she said.

Lyon said that one of GPCA’s biggest accomplishments over the past year was its “Culture Across Communities” report, a glossy, 88-page document (also available online) developed with the help of Data Arts. The report compares 11 arts and culture communities in metro areas across the country — encompassing over 5,500 organizations. It was the GPCA’s first attempt at analyzing communities in cities other than its own.

From our Partners

Other major accomplishments, according to Lyon, were GPCA’s participation in Philly Tech Week with its Techniculture event; an internship program for rising seniors; and its role in ensuring the preservation of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund at $3.14 million.

There are changes to come in the arts and culture sector, which is why GPCA is hosting an event called Rehearsing the Future next week. The event will present “four different scenarios of what the future of arts and culture could look like here in Greater Philadelphia based on major trends that are happening in America and the world,” she said. Attendees will be asked to imagine what would happen to their organization, art form or career if each of the scenarios came true.

“The whole point of it is to get people thinking about beyond the immediate next year and thinking in terms of 10, 20 years down the road,” she said. “What’s the star we need to steer to?”

By the way — don’t tell Detroit, but in the past year, Lyon has come to the conclusion that our arts and culture scene is … well, better.

“What I’ve learned is that Philadelphia is a lot more sophisticated than Detroit,” she said. “It not only has more museums, more music ensembles, way more theaters, more dances, but it also has a depth of knowledge in each of those areas, and the kind of creativity and innovation that people are doing is really cutting-edge and wonderful.”


From our Partners

Testing a new Generocity

6 things we know about you

Pennsylvania Humanities Council is offering up to $20,000 in flexible funding — but you have to act fast


Generocity Philly

Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County

Philadelphia/some virtual

The Health Care Improvement Foundation, Inc.


Apply Now
31 East Armat Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Covenant House Pennsylvania

Director of Finance

Apply Now
Harrisburg, PA

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc.

Executive Director

Apply Now

You don’t have to start your own nonprofit to get the impact you want

If you want to create the ultimate 2021 nonprofit playlist, you have to ask your community

New grant programs infuse Philadelphia’s nonprofit and arts sectors with $6 million


Generocity Philly

Village of the Arts seeks to deepen and scale its impact as it reflects on its legacy

Philadelphia, PA

United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey

Lead, Marketing & Communications

Apply Now

Starfinder Foundation

Director, Development & Communications

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Technology Learning Collaborative

Digital Inclusion Trainer (Consultant)

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity