Cultural Sector in Southeast Pennsylvania Vibrant, Report Finds

The Philadelphia area's nonprofit cultural sector earns $573 million in annual revenue and contributes significantly to the local economy, a new report from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance finds.

Produced with support from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts and the William Penn Foundation, the 2006 Portfolio (35 pages, PDF) is based on confidential financial and other organizational information reported by 218 cultural organizations to the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project, a statewide data collection effort. Together, the organizations in the report produce 56,000 events — half of them free — and generate 12 million visits annually. However, their operating margins, on average, are just 1.7 percent, and a quarter of the groups had deficits greater than 10 percent of their budget.

By interpreting a wide range of data, including revenues, employment, attendance, and fundraising, the report identified several key themes. For instance, corporate and government support for the sector is low, while competition for funding is strong. The report also found that arts organizations in the region tend to operate on tight budgets, with local and federal government providing roughly 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of their total revenues.

"The Portfolio confirms how integral the arts are to the Philadelphia community, both socially and economically," said Marian Godfrey, managing director of Culture and Civic Initiatives at Pew. "The report will be a valuable tool in helping arts organizations better tell the story of the cultural sector's impact, assets, and needs, while providing funders and opinion leaders with reliable data that previously did not exist."

"Study Documents Cultural Sector as Economic Engine With Strong Civic Support." Pew Charitable Trusts Press Release 09/26/2006.