Apr. 26, 2016 8:40 am

Local arts and culture orgs have been granted over $20.1M in 2016

Over $2.6 million in annual Philadelphia Cultural Fund grants add to the stream of money surging into arts and culture organizations in early 2016. Who's benefitting?

Philly sunset.

(Photo by Julie Zeglen)

While the humanities are getting the ax in public schools, philanthropy is picking up the pieces.

Coming into April, local arts and culture organizations had received over $16,860,000 in grants in 2016. That sum rose to $17,587364 by mid-month when a handful of local arts and culture projects landed Knight Cities Challenge grants.

Last week, Philadelphia Cultural Fund announced its 2016 grant winners: Two hundred eighty-four local arts and culture organizations were granted a total of over $2.6 million.

So far this year, local arts and culture organizations have been granted over $20.1 million.

“It is so important to recognize that our arts and culture community touch our lives and influence our society in ways beyond creating something beautiful,” said Philadelphia Cultural Fund board president Ken Metzner in a press release. “The arts have the ability to change our lives and our world for the better, and these grants highlight that.”

What lives are being changed for the better?

Large arts organizations — anchor institutions that do sometimes spread the love to grassroots and community-based organizations — tend to take home the biggest pieces of the funding pie. Consider Knight Foundation‘s $2.5 million opera festival grant, a recent $10 million donation to the Museum of Art or Please Touch Museum‘s $3.6 million foundation-led bailout.

That’s over $16.1 million from a $20.1 million pot. Is local arts and culture funding promoting cultural inequity so far this year?

Maybe, if only confined to donations from affluent individuals. The Philadelphia Zoo, the Curtis Institute of Music and The Franklin Institute — all large organizations — received the largest Cultural Fund grants, each reeling in over $16,000.

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Birds on a Wire Dance Theater and Philadelphia Community Tap Project received the smallest grants, each under $400. But grassroots and community-based arts organizations did get some love.

Barbara Silzle, director of the Cultural Fund, told the Inquirer 19 percent of this year’s grantees have budgets under $50,000, and eight percent of the grantees are community-based organizations. Of the 284 organizations, Silzle said 20 are “receiving their first grants.”

Regardless, early 2016 has seen a strong stream of money surge toward arts and culture organizations. Will it fizzle or persevere?


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