How to Secure a Philadelphia Culture Fund Grant for 2017

It’s been a little while since we’ve checked in on the Philadelphia Culture Fund, which helps arts and culture groups become engines of social, educational and economic development in the Philadelphia area. This fund has been around since 1991, when the current mayor authorized the creation of a nonprofit corporation for this purpose.

Related: Not Just Sour Grapes Over Philadelphia Cultural Fund's 2013 Appropriations

The Cultural Fund is designed to give general operating support to Philadelphia-based arts and culture organizations, advocate for the value of the arts, increase access to the arts, and preserve the cultural heritage of Philadelphia. The guidelines really spell it all out for you, but here’s a quick overview to assess whether your organization has a shot at one of these grants or not.

60 Percent of Programs Must Be in Philadelphia

The address of a staff or board member doesn’t cut it. Your nonprofit’s official place of business must be located within the city limits. Also at least 60 percent of your programs must be here too.

60 Percent of Budget Must Be for Arts & Culture

Sixty is a magic number for this fund because it also requires that 60 percent of your budget must be devoted to arts and culture. However, this opens up the opportunity to nonprofits that aren’t exclusively arts and culture-based. Non-arts and culture organizations that happen to have an arts and culture program may be eligible to apply for a one-year program grant. But before you get too far into the application process, call the Cultural Fund staff to verify eligibility.  

New and Emerging Groups Are Welcome

This is a fund that welcomes new and emerging groups; however, you must have been conducting public programming for at least a year to be eligible. Public programming means that you provide arts and culture to the Philadelphia community free of charge. You must apply as either an established organization (more than five years in operation) or a new and emerging organization (less than five years).

General Operating and Program Support Are Available

If you apply for a general operating grant, you’re automatically eligible to be considered for multi-year funding for 2017, 2018, and 2019.  Program grants are also available for groups that work on a project-by-project basis. New and emerging groups can apply for one-year grants of either kind. To get a sense of what types of groups get funded, check out the list of 2016 art and culture recipients, which was announced this past April.

Don’t Request a Specific Amount

According to the guidelines, grant amounts are determined through the use of a funding formula. Therefore, applicants do not request a specific grant amount when applying.

Apply by September 30

September 30 is the next big deadline. The application process is entirely online, and there are a few application tips and tools available for grantseekers before getting started. Applications will be reviewed by a peer panel of between eight and 15 reviewers, and site visits are mandatory.

After this deadline, the next date to mark on your calendar is February 2017. That’s when the guidelines and application for youth arts enrichment will become available. Youth arts enrichment grants were last announced in June, when 13 Philadelphia groups received grants of $10,000 to $20,000 each, totaling $230,000.