Culture Builds Community Evaluation Report

Author: Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert

Publication Year: 2001

Media Type: Report


This evaluation report from the Culture Builds Communities Project reviews a four-year comprehensive community grant program. The goals of this program were to both increase participation in the arts and to foster community building through the arts and culture.

Abstract: Offers a comprehensive evaluation of "Culture Builds Communities" project completed in Philadelphia by the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), a part of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. Between 1997 and 2001, thirty-eight organizations in Philadelphia were granted funds by the William Penn Foundation to "build future audiences for the arts and culture foster the community-building potential of community arts programs, especially in poor and disadvantaged areas of Philadelphia." Grantees were also given the opportunity to work with Partners for Livable Communities and the programs were evaluated by the University of Pennsylvania's Social Impact of the Arts Project. The evaluation focused not on individual grantee's successes, but rather how well the initiative as a whole impacted the community. The evaluation report explains the importance of using the "ecological model" to define and evaluate the project. The "ecological model" provides a broad view of many different agents acting within the community cultural sector, and on the relationships and networks which may be as important as the individual agents. In addition, this model allows understanding beyond the traditional "strengths/weaknesses" model often used in urban research. The Culture Builds Communities initiative was assessed in three broad categories: organizational goals of individual grantees, artistic goals of grantees in expanding opportunities for cultural participation and enhancing artistic quality, community goals of the cultural providers' role in building community capacity. This assessment also offers a review of lessons learned over the course of the project, and relates the work in Philadelphia to broader policy and social trends. Lastly, it proposes the need to move to policies that "redefine the balance of stability and innovation in the sustainability of the community cultural sector."

Arts & Intersections: Community Cohesion, Community Development

Categories: Funding, Economic Impact, Cultural Planning, Cultural Facilities, Cultural Diversity, Creative Industries, Creative Economies, Community Development, Accessibility


Series Title: Culture Builds Communities Evaluation Summary Report




Pages: 62

Resources: Document


Name: Penn School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania

Website URL: