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Cultural Alliance and Barra Foundation to Award $40,000 in Funding During Second Annual TechniCulture Event

Philadelphia, PA—On Friday, April 29, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance presents the second annual TechniCulture, an official Philly Tech Week event. This year’s event includes a keynote by Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and spotlights the recipients of last year’s TechniCulture Residency Awards, who will present their project plans. In recognition of their participation in this process to bring arts and cultural organizations together with technologists to spark creative solutions, each organization will receive funding for the continued development and implementation of their projects from The Barra Foundation. The event will be held at Drexel University’s Mitchell Auditorium (3128 Market Street) from 9am-noon and is sponsored by Comcast Business and Drexel’s ExCITe Center.

Keynote speaker Sree Sreenivasan is the first Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He often describes his work as “operating a startup in a 150-year old organization, and leads a world-class team of 70 working on topics he loves: digital, social, mobile, video, data, email apps and more.”

The TechniCulture Residency Awardees have been working with digital technologists since fall 2015 to evaluate their technology needs and determine a project-based solution. At the 2016 TechniCulture, a panel of judges selected by the Cultural Alliance will evaluate their proposals and choose a winner, who will receive $20,000 in grant funding from The Barra Foundation and $5,000 in pro-bono legal services from Morgan Lewis. The two runners-up will each receive $10,000 from Barra, and a “People’s Choice Award” winner selected by event attendees will receive an additional $1,000 prize sponsored by University City Science Center.

“The top two concerns we hear from our members when it comes to digital innovation are: 1) they’re not sure where to begin, and 2) they lack the necessary support and resources,” said Maud Lyon, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “We designed the TechniCulture Residency Awards to address these issues.  We hope other cultural organizations will be inspired by what these teams have learned about using technology to find innovative solutions, and thanks to The Barra Foundation, our three residency awardees can take their projects even further.”

The TechniCulture Residency Award residency teams and their projects are:

Christ Church Preservation Trust: The Christ Church Preservation Trust team is using its residency to pursue new strategies for encouraging donations and monetizing visitation at Ben Franklin's grave. The common practice is for visitors to throw pennies on the grave marker in honor of Franklin’s phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned." However, this practice damages the grave by chipping away at the limestone. They are working with technologist Davis Shaver, Digital Products & Solutions Lead at Philadelphia Media Network.   

Philadelphia Young Playwrights: The Philadelphia Young Playwrights team is focusing on two distinct areas of work. The first is updating their Playwright Commons, a digital resource for teachers and teaching artists with crowd-sourced and curated materials that enrich curriculum, provide support materials for classroom use, and creates a community for an otherwise isolated group of educators at their individual school sites. With resident technologist Davis Shaver, Digital Products & Solutions Lead at Philadelphia Media Network, they are making the Commons more sophisticated and user-friendly to streamline content and facilitate program integration in the future. Second, they are interested in developing and adding media-rich, interactive programming to the Commons to gamify and/or individualize aspects of the playwriting process to excite and engage students in support of positive literacy and creativity learning outcomes.

Tiny Dynamite: The Tiny Dynamite team is producing a cross-continent collaboration with a theater company in the UK, ultimately using the internet as a new performance medium.  Using set design and monologues that are streamed to a venue in the UK, Emma Gibson, artistic director, will perform in the piece from the US. The work will debut in April in the UK, and is slated to premiere in the US in 2017.  They are working with award-winning filmmaker and technologist Ben Kalina.

Comcast Business is the sponsor of the TechniCulture event, and Comcast Director of Local Media Development Paul Wright, who serves on the board of FringeArts and the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, will emcee and facilitate.

“Comcast Business is proud to sponsor the TechniCulture Design Challenge and help the Cultural Alliance in their continued effort to bring together the cultural and tech communities,” said Ian Gallagher, Comcast Business Marketing Director. “Comcast has a rich history of innovation, and we continue to move forward with an entrepreneurial spirit as we shape the future of media and technology. At the intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship, great things happen, and we’re honored to be part of it.”

Drexel's Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center is the host-sponsor of the event. The ExCITe Center serves as a showcase for multidisciplinary collaboration, and ultimately serves to integrate Drexel's leadership in technology, design and entrepreneurship for profound impact beyond the University, making the Center a valuable collaborator for the TechniCulture initiative.

For more information on the TechniCulture initiative, and to register for the April 29 Philly Tech Week event, visit Registration is $10 for regular attendees, and free for students who show ID at the door.

Established in 1972, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is the region’s leading arts and cultural advocacy, research and marketing organization. Our mission is to “lead, strengthen and give voice to a diverse cultural sector that is making Philadelphia a world-class region to live, work, and play.”  Our membership includes over 400 organizations ranging from museums and dance companies to community art centers, historic sites, music ensembles and zoos. Our members, as well as the cultural community as a whole, count on the Alliance for signature research reports on the health and growth of the sector; grantmaking in partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the arts; robust professional development and membership services; marketing and audience development through our signature consumer marketing programs, and Funsavers; and leadership in policy and community engagement through our GroundSwell advocacy initiative and STAMP teen program. For more information on the Cultural Alliance, please visit