Culture Builds Community Evaluation: Summary Report

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Culture Builds Community
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Arts and Humanities
Civic and Community Engagement
Public Policy
Urban Studies and Planning
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In 1997 the William Penn Foundation undertook the Culture Builds Community (CBC) initiative as a way to link its commitments to urban communities and to the arts and culture in the Philadelphia region. The initiative eventually funded 29 programs involving 38 organizations to test a variety of strategies to expand cultural participation and strengthen community-based cultural organizations. Some organizations received core operating support while others were funded to undertake programs focused on expanding cultural opportunities, enhancing artistic quality, or fostering community-based collaborations with a focus on young people. The Foundation provided technical assistance as well as funding to CBC grantees, from June 1997 through February 2001, and awarded a grant to Penn’s Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) to evaluate the initiative. SIAP's assessment had two objectives: (1) to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of the community cultural sector and (2) to determine whether CBC achieved its goals with respect to strengthening organizations, expanding cultural opportunities, and improving the role of cultural organizations in building community. This report presents the findings of that assessment. SIAP concludes that overall, at the end of the initiative, the region’s community cultural sector was much stronger than it had been three years earlier.

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William Penn Foundation support between 1996 and 2001 allowed SIAP to develop tools and ideas about the relationship of culture to community change that informed its work over the next decade. SIAP's Culture Builds Community Collection is the product of that collaboration.
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