(Photo by Flickr user Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, used under a Creative Commons license)
Let’s not undermine the importance of the nearly $650,000 in grants the Presser Foundation awarded to area music nonprofits last month.
The grants are a boon for organizations advancing music education like Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Temple University Music Preparatory Division and The Music School of Delaware.
But it doesn’t mean music philanthropy is “doing fine,” as a recent Inside Philanthropy piece would have you think.
The future of arts and culture funding on a holistic level in Philadelphia is a little more complicated than that — especially when grants from the city’s staple foundations tend to ignore smaller community-based arts organizations, indirectly promoting cultural inequality.
The Inside Philanthropy piece itself notes the poor state of funding for arts organizations Philadelphia compared to other metropolises, citing last November’s Philadelphia Cultural Alliance 2015 Portfolio report:
- Between 2009 and 2012, Philadelphia arts organizations saw a 12.7 percent decrease in individual donations.
- In that same time period, there was a 5.6 percent increase in foundation funding.
- That sounds nice, but consider foundation funding increases during that time in fellow Northeast cities Boston (44.6 percent) and Pittsburgh (35 percent).
Consider the all but debilitating cut in arts education funding for Philadelphia’s public schools in 2013. Per a September 2015 opinion piece in the Notebook, only 25 out of 218 Philadelphia schools have an instrumental music teacher. Those that do are operating without a budget for supplies.
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