2016 Analytics 50 Honorees

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Analytics 50 Submission

John McInerney, Vice President, Research & Communications
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Philadelphia, PA
Industry: Nonprofit Cultural

Business Challenge

As an arts service organization advocating for the cultural community, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has traditionally been challenged by the lack of reliable data, leading to false assumptions about the scope and impact of the arts. This had real implications in how it is perceived by the public (the arts are elitist, groups are dependent on large donors and cultural leaders are not good business managers). It also impacted its ability to secure greater investment in the arts by civic leaders.

Analytics Solution

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s portfolio research series was a game changer for its field. These reports, including its recent national study, Portfolio 2015, Culture Across Communities, for the first time documented the scope and impact of the arts in a reliable and compelling way. The portfolio synthesizes thousands of data points about the arts—financials, programming, and fundraising—and provides an evidence-based narrative that trumps misconceptions about its field. When a state legislator wants to put a tax on the arts or a city council member is unwilling to preserve funding for the cultural fund, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is able to use the analytics in Portfolio to show that its efforts would negatively impact well-run, small, community-based organizations that provide accessible arts experiences throughout the region. Based on its analytics and advocacy, city officials now support the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s research and work with them to document the impact of the arts in their districts.

Impact

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s thoughtful approach to cultural data and analytics, particularly its 2015 national report, has been a game changer putting them on the national stage for arts research and cultural advocacy. The Alliance has been invited to participate in national convenings such as the National Arts Marketing Project and the recent Wallace Foundation convening on audience research (Wallace Foundation’s “Road to Results”). It has also resulted in the Alliance providing custom consulting not just for cultural groups but also for civic groups including the Center City District, University City District and others.