Primary tabs

Innovative Engagement Projects Earn 10 Regional Arts Organizations over $700,000

Philadelphia, PA – The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and The Philadelphia Foundation today announced that 10 regional arts organizations will receive Engage 2020 Innovation Grants, worth up to $75,000 each.  Through a competitive peer review process, the grants were awarded to organizations that will pioneer programs designed to specifically engage new audiences in creative experiences.  Funding for the program comes from The Wallace Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The ten organizations selected were: Art Sanctuary, Curtis Institute of Music, Fairmount Park Art Association, First Person Arts, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, New Paradise Laboratories, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), People’s Light & Theatre, and the Walnut Street Theatre.

“The Innovation Grants are about putting research into action. These grants represent risk capital that provides vital R&D to our field,” said Tom Kaiden, the Cultural Alliance’s Acting Executive Director.

Grants will fund a wide variety of programs including-- a creative juxtaposition of Hip Hop and Opera (Art Sanctuary); interactive theatre performances orchestrated through Facebook and other social media networks (New Paradise Laboratories);  a series of community engagement events taking place at iconic murals dealing with African American Heritage (Mural Arts Advocates); engaging teenagers in play writing and production (People’s Light and Theatre); and a project to cultivate young audiences skills in journalistic criticism (Walnut Street Theatre). Full project descriptions for all ten projects are below.

The Innovation Grants are a direct outcome of consumer research conducted by the Cultural Alliance and detailed in the 2009 report Research into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities* The report outlines 10 megatrends shaping arts participation in the 21st century. Innovation Grants were awarded to those organizations that were able to embrace the 10 findings in ways that will best deepen engagement.  Sharing knowledge is also a primary component of the Innovation Grants Program. Organizations chosen to participate are required to model “case study-worthy” examples that will educate and inspire peers in the region and across the country.

“We hope these projects will not only engage people more deeply in the arts," said Daniel Windham, Director of Arts at the Wallace Foundation, "but also serve as examples for other organizations of innovative audience engagement strategies."

The competition for the Innovation Grants was steep, with over 60 submissions. “Ultimately we selected 10 programs that we believe will effectively build strong connections with groups ready for fresh arts experiences, “ said Bia Vieira,  the Philadelphia Foundation’s Vice President for Community Impact.  

* The complete Research into Action report and a list of its 10 Key Findings can be found on

2010 Innovation Grant Recipients (total grant value is $715,483):

Art Sanctuary $75,000
Art Sanctuary is being awarded a grant for the program “Hip H’Opera,” which will use students’ creativity to inspire an original work that fuses hip-hop with opera and other musical genres.

Curtis Institute of Music $75,000
Curtis plans to increase participation through their “Marketing to the Buyer Type” program, which seeks to create a uniquely tailored “experience” for patrons of Curtis’s performances.

Fairmount Park Art Association $75,000
Fairmount Park Art Association’s program, “Re-messaging Public Art/Recruiting Cultural Audiences,” is a marketing campaign for summer 2011 that will promote the unique accessibility of Philadelphia’s public art.

First Person Arts $75,000
First Person Arts earned an Engage 2020 Innovation Grant for “First Person Storytorium,” a citywide community engagement project that invites people to share objects, stories and memories they hold dear to create a compelling multimedia project to premiere at the 2010 First Person Arts Festival.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia $50,265
Mendelssohn Club’s, “The Audience InCHOIRing” is a marketing and audience-engagement project, as well as a choral/orchestral performance involving audience participation.

Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates $75,000
Philadelphia Mural Arts is taking advantage of the city’s rich African-American heritage, specifically in terms of murals, in the “African American Heritage Collection.” The program will share murals’ stories, renewing their relevance as a cultural resource for the public, and will include cell phone/podcast audio tours, among others.

New Paradise Laboratories $65,218
New Paradise Laboratories’ “Direct Engagement Through Online Performance” will use Web-based techniques to break down traditional barriers between the artist and audience, and will integrate live and cyber performance into a cohesive whole.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) $75,000
PAFA will use their program, “Family Arts Academy at PAFA,” in concert with the Philadelphia School District, to offer art workshops, classes and exhibitions, free of charge to school district families.

People’s Light & Theatre $75,000
People’s Light will administer “Circles of Engagement at People’s Light,” which will attempt to engage today’s teens and adults through theater workshops, while also reconnecting with and engaging adults who have taken part in People’s Light plays in the past.

Walnut Street Theatre
Walnut Street Theatre’s “Engaging Intergenerational Audiences” program will, in association with the Philadelphia Inquirer, work with 100 local high school students and their parents to create a series of interactive activities that focus on critical thought, journalistic writing and social connections. Select students’ writings will be published in the Inquirer after each production.

About Engage 2020
The Engage 2020 Innovation Grants Program is supported by The Wallace Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Philadelphia Foundation, and is a program of the Cultural Alliance's research and marketing initiative Engage 2020. Specifically, Engage 2020’s goal is to double cultural engagement in the Greater Philadelphia region by 2020. Engage 2020 focuses on three key strategies:
•    Conducting groundbreaking research on emerging trends in cultural engagement;
•    Providing seed capital and marketing support to cultural organizations for innovative planning and product development; and
•    Applying new technology and emerging social networks in the cultural sector.

Engage 2020  is sponsored by a lead grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, with additional support from The Wallace Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.

About the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is committed to helping community arts and cultural organizations thrive throughout the area.  The Cultural Alliance is a leadership organization of over 375 nonprofit arts and cultural institutions located primarily in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Its mission is making Greater Philadelphia one of the foremost creative region in the world.  For more information, visit

About the Philadelphia Foundation
The Philadelphia Foundation is Southeastern Pennsylvania’s leading center for community philanthropic engagement. For more than 90 years, the Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. As a public charity community foundation, it manages nearly 800 charitable funds, maximizing the strategic impact of charitable contributions. It supports the intentions of individual, family, business and organizational donors who have established permanent charitable funds to help the region meet the challenges of changing times. The Foundation invests and administers these funds and awards the distributions -- about $20 million a year to nearly 1,000 area organizations – as grants and scholarships. The Foundation’s work is overseen by a volunteer board of leading citizens and run by professionals with expertise in the region’s needs. For more information, visit