Between 2005 and 2009, SIAP conducted an evaluation of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Community Partners in Arts Access (CPAA) initiative in North Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The initiative funded a number of cultural organizations with the goal to expand arts and cultural participation among residents of these two low-income urban communities in Greater Philadelphia. Knight’s CPAA objectives were to improve grantees' organizational capacity and their ability to partner with other community-based (arts and non-arts) organizations.
In advance of Knight’s CPAA initiative, from 2004 to 2005, SIAP collaborated with Research for Action and Alan S. Brown & Associates/Audience Insight LLC on a benchmark study of cultural participation in North Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. These two urban communities had been chosen by the Knight Foundation for multi-year investment in order to broaden, deepen, and diversify resident participation in arts and cultural programs and events. The Philadelphia and Camden Cultural Participation Benchmark Project (Benchmark Project), with Knight Foundation support, consisted of three complementary research strategies: focus groups conducted by Research for Action, a neighborhood resident survey developed by Alan S Brown, and small-area estimates of cultural participation produced by SIAP.
SIAP's final evaluation report, based on Benchmark Project findings, documents changes in cultural participation in North Philadelphia and Camden between 2004 and 2008. The report also draws from a SIAP survey of artists living or working in North Philadelphia or Camden, conducted in 2006, to examine the cultural ecology and role of artists in these communities. Finally, in light of Knight Foundation’s shift in focus from organizational capacity building to “community transformation," the report explores longer-term implications of the CPAA initiative based on a community development framework developed by Jeremy Nowak, founding CEO of the Reinvestment Fund. Nowak’s “architecture of community” views neighborhoods through four domains—social capital and civic institutions; public assets and infrastructure; economic assets and market relationships; and flows of information, capital, and people between places.