Between 1996 and 2002, SIAP worked with the William Penn Foundation on assessment of its community arts initiative in Greater Philadelphia called Culture Builds Community. SIAP’s evaluation assessed grantees’ ability to strengthen their organizations as well as their community-building capacity during a three-year grant-making cycle (June 1997-Feb 2001).

During Culture Builds Community, SIAP developed and refined a set of empirical methods for studying the relationship between cultural resources and urban communities with a focus on: (1) identification of under-the-radar actors in the community cultural sector—in particular, resident artists, informal cultural programs, for-profit cultural firms, and non-arts organizations; and (2) documentation of institutional and social networks within and between neighborhoods that support community-based arts. The research team drew two important implications from this work. First, for the community cultural sector, these networks of relationships are often more important than the organizational strength of individual cultural providers. This suggests that an ecological model of community culture may be a better guide to policymaking than an orthodox focus on organizations. Second, the unrealized links identified—the structural holes in the community cultural sector—are a potential domain of policy intervention that was largely outside of the Culture Builds Community framework. This ecological perspective dovetailed with the team’s exploration of the arts’ relationship to social movements. One paper outlines a multi-year ethnographic study of the role of the arts in AIDS/HIV activism in Philadelphia. Another proposes re-conceptualization of community-based arts that shifts from a classic nonprofit organization model to that of a social movement.

SIAP’s Culture Builds Community Evaluation—1997-2002 Collection includes the following research reports and working papers.

Summary Reports:
  • Culture Builds Community Research Brief (Feb 2002)
  • Culture Builds Community Evaluation: Summary Report (Jan 2002)
Working Papers:
  • Housing Markets and Social Capital: The Role of Participation, Institutions, and Diversity in Neighborhood Transformation (June 2001)
  • Urban Vitality, Diversity, and Culture: Population Growth and Ethnic Change in Philadelphia: 1990-2000 (March 2001)
  • Cultural Participation and Communities: The Role of Individual and Neighborhood Effects (Oct 2000)
  • The Geography of Cultural Production in Metropolitan Philadelphia (Feb 2000)
  • Cultural Organizations in the Network Society (Oct 1999)
  • Is All the World Philadelphia? A Multi-city Study of Arts and Cultural Organizations, Diversity, and Urban Revitalization (May 1999)
  • Representing the City: Arts, Culture, and Diversity in Philadelphia (April 1999)
  • Cultural Participation and Civic Engagement In Five Philadelphia Neighborhoods (Jan 1998)
  • Community Revitalization and the Arts in Philadelphia (Jan 1998)
  • Dimensions of Regional Arts and Cultural Participation: Individual and Neighborhood Effects on Participation in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area (Sept 1997)
  • Social Citizenship and Urban Poverty (Feb 1997)
Arts and Social Movements
  • "Irrational" Organizations: Why Community-based Organizations are Really Social Movements (June 2000)
  • Art and Social Change: AIDS Activism in Philadelphia (Feb 1997)


Browse the Culture Builds Community Evaluation—1997-2002 Collections:

Culture Builds Community

Re-presenting the City: Arts, Culture, and Diversity in Philadelphia