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How do Philadelphia’s Science & Nature Cultural Institutions Compare Nationally?

A few months ago, the Cultural Alliance released 2015 Portfolio: Culture Across Communities, our first national research report, examining 11 metro regions. Now, we're sharing a deeper dive into each discipline examined in the report, to share how Philadelphia's arts and culture communities compare nationally. This month we are looking at Philadelphia's Science & Natural cultural organizations.

The key takeaway: Philadelphia's Science & Nature groups led the nation in growing total members, adding 31,000 members from 2009 to 2012 and increasing membership revenue by $2.6 million.

Interestingly, Philadelphia's groups comprise only 12% of the total Science & Nature groups in the study, but were responsible for 44% of the total gain in Science & Nature members (31,000 of 70,000 net members added).

More importantly, the membership revenue from Philadelphia Science & Nature organizations was 18% of the total membership revenue for Science & Nature groups nationally. Memberships increased 19.4% in Philadelphia, or approximately $2.6 million dollars.  

While attendance rose 12% nationally for Science & Nature groups, Philadelphia saw a 9% decrease in attendance within the discipline. However, both Philadelphia and the nation saw substantial increases in the number of paying members, at a time when paying members decreased 1.6% overall across all arts & culture disciplines. 

  National* Philadelphia
Paying Members (percent change) +10.2% +20.9%
Paying Members (total change) 70,000 31,000

Science & Nature organizations both in Philadelphia and nationally had strong gains in total revenue, thanks to increases in both earned and contributed revenue. While contributed income was down 3.5% for all arts & culture disciplines across the report, Science & Nature groups bucked the trend, with strong gains in Contributed Income in both Philadelphia (14.4%) and across the 11 Metro regions.

  National* Philadelphia
Total Earned (without Investments Unrealized) +29.2% +20.2%
Total Contributed +9.3% +7.1%
Total Revenue (without Investments Unrealized) +19.3% +14.4%

Of all the disciplines, Science & Nature is also unique for its strong reliance on earned income, which makes up 3 of every 4 dollars in total revenue (76%). Other disciplines earned income proportions ranged from 34%-68%. Also, of all 11 disciplines, Science & Nature organizations were the largest nonprofits, with the only median discipline budget greater than $1 Million (specifically, a median size of $1.65 Million). 

Finally, while Philadelphia Science & Nature organizations have an aggregate surplus of 3%, this discipline also has the highest percentage of organizations in a deficit over 10% (33% of organizations were in a deficit greater than 10%). So there seems to be a large variance in performance from group to group. 

For more information on 2015 Portfolio: Culture Across Communities and other Alliance research projects, click here, and stay tuned next month when we take a closer look at another discipline.

*2015 Portfolio: Culture Across Communities examined the following 11 metro regions: Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Twin Cities, and Washington DC.