Save The Philadelphia Cultural Fund!
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
Mayor Kenney shared his revised FY2021 budget on Friday, May 1, and in order to make up for the $650 million revenue deficit, the Mayor has proposed among other sharp cuts, eliminating all funding for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.
While City Council will still need to weigh in on the budget, we are deeply concerned that without our intervention, the Cultural Fund will be permanently eliminated. And with that elimination would be the elimination of general operating grants to hundreds of Philadelphia nonprofit arts organizations throughout the city. 60% of our grantees serve Philadelphia’s youth in and out of school, 47% have operating budgets under $150,000. Eliminating PCF grants would devastate the organizations that rely on this critical support to serve audiences and create equity and access to the arts. Eliminating our funding will eliminate the Cultural Fund itself and makes it unlikely that funding would resume when this crisis is behind us.
As Philadelphia emerges from this crisis, the arts must be here for Philadelphians. And PCF is how the city supports the arts.
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit created in 1991. Grants are made from a City budget allocation to PCF and provide general operating support for hundreds of nonprofit arts and culture organizations in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. PCF is managed by a professional philanthropy staff, with governance provided by a board comprised of arts leaders, community members and representatives named by the Mayor and City Council President. Grant applications are reviewed through a transparent and robust process that includes site visits and peer panels.
This operational structure enhances the integrity of the grant-making process and ensures continuity across mayoral administrations in terms of PCF-grantee relationships and funding practices.
We understand that in challenging times there must be shared sacrifice, however, we also know that our city’s cultural sector is vital to the fabric of our city and we cannot allow it to wither away.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We are asking the community to contact their city councilmembers to ask them to maintain some level of funding in the FY21 budget so that when we are finally out of this health crisis we will still have a Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
Time is of the essence. Your stories, your voices, are critical to this effort. Take a moment now to send an email or letter to 1) your organization’s district councilmember 2) those councilmembers where your programming is conducted throughout the city, and 3) the 7 at-large members to ask them to include funding for the Cultural Fund in the FY21 budget.
Provide them with details:
- Describe your audience, who you serve, # of Philly school students, etc.
- Give a description of why your organization is deserving of funds from the City.
- Finally, describe how/why funding from PCF to your specific organization is so very important. Get specific!
Below you will find a link to a template letter that can be customized and quickly sent to district council members and the at-large members. Please share this link with your staff and other constituents to advocate on behalf of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
This is just the beginning of our advocacy on behalf of our city’s art and culture community. Each of you is the sector’s greatest advocate.
We thank you for your support during this crisis.
Barbara J. Silzle, Executive Director
Statement from the Board of Directors of The Philadelphia Cultural Fund
The board of directors of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund stands with the hundreds of arts organizations, their staff, collaborating artists, stakeholders and supporters across the city in appealing to the City of Philadelphia to restore funding to the Cultural Fund in FY21. The COVID19 pandemic has caused extraordinary physical, emotional and financial pain across our city, the nation and the world. In his effort to steward the city through this crisis, Mayor Kenney has made difficult adjustments to his proposed budget, which includes defunding the Cultural Fund. We believe the total elimination of funding for the Cultural Fund imperils the essential role that the arts play in the fabric of our city and does not reflect our city’s shared values.
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund has been the primary vehicle through which the City of Philadelphia has funded the arts since 1994. It was thoughtfully established as an independent 501(c)(3) to ensure fair and apolitical access to public funding for a broad and diverse spectrum of arts organizations that serve all corners of the city. Each year the Cultural Fund grants nearly $3 million to almost 350 nonprofit arts organizations of all sizes through a robust and transparent peer-review process. Our grants are distributed equitably, with the smallest, community-based organizations receiving the largest percentage of funding. As a result of this process, the impact of these grants and our grantees is felt in almost every corner of the city.
Eliminating the Cultural Fund will devastate organizations that are already struggling to survive and will deprive our communities of the services that the arts uniquely provide. Despite extraordinary financial stress, every day of this pandemic, the creators, art educators and thousands of other culture workers employed by our grantees are still finding ways to educate, entertain and uplift Philadelphians while they shelter at home. When this pandemic is behind us, it will be our grantees that provide Philadelphians with the essential outlets and tools for creative self-expression, reflection, activism, celebration and community-building necessary for a thriving metropolis. And it will be our grantees that help Philadelphia once again attract visitors, and their tax dollars, back into our city. This is a time for shared sacrifice, to ensure our shared survival. Maintaining some level of funding for the Cultural Fund in FY21, will ensure that our vibrant, multicultural arts communities can continue to contribute to a resilient post-pandemic city for all citizens.