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Survey says the Philadelphia region’s cultural picture is brighter

Thursday, May 24, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amy Seasholtz
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Thu, May. 24, 2012

By Stephan Salisbury

The region's cultural organizations are showing signs of recovery from the fiscal crisis and deep recession that began in 2007, according to an annual survey conducted by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Individual giving is up, foundation support is up, earned income is up, and even some hiring is under way, the survey shows.

"This recovery is a testament both to how organizations have restructured and how Philadelphians have placed a high value on culture in their communities,” Tom Kaiden, alliance president, said in a statement. "These are positive indicators not just for cultural groups but for the region as a whole.”

Alliance officials report that 43 percent of the organizations polled said that ticket sales, subscriptions, and memberships were up in March 2012, compared to October 2010, when 33 percent reported increased ticket sales and only 20 percent reported increased subscriptions and memberships.

Individual contributions are up signficantly, with 51 percent of the organizations reporting increases in such giving, compared with 38 percent reporting increases from individuals in October 2010. Individual giving has proven a mainstay for arts organizations since the recession, the cultural alliance said. More than 80 percent of polled organizations — with annual budgets ranging from from $25,000 to $10,000,0000 — reported growing or stable giving by individuals.

About 36 percent of surveyed groups reported declines in government support (49 percent reported declines in 2010).

On the employment front, a lower percentage of organizations reported staff reductions (19 percent versus 26 percent in 2010). About 33 percent of organizations surveyed reported that they have either restored staff positions or are increasing staff in 2012 (The question was not asked in 2010).

Less than a quarter of the organizations said they expect a deficit at the end of their current fiscal year (23 percent compared with 32 percent in 2010).

The slowly improving economic situation prompted 40 percent of cultural leaders to say things will get better (up from 32 percent in 2010).

That said, only 15 percent of organizations reported they had cash available to cover six months of expenses, whereas a quarter of surveyed groups reported adequate cash reserves in 2010.

The poll sampled 102 organizations representing a wide range of disciplines and budget sizes. The next survey will be conducted in about a year.


Contact Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or e-mail at ssalisbury@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @SPSalisbury.