But the Cultural Data Project recently received nonprofit recognition and is preparing to move out from under Pew's nurturing wing to fully independent status.
Since 2004, it has generated much of the data utilized by the cultural alliance in a series of eye-opening studies on the financial health and scope of Philadelphia's arts community, most recently in a September report demonstrating that the region's cultural sector generates $3.3 billion in economic activity annually.
The data model created by the project has been so successful that it has been emulated in 12 states and Washington, D.C., with more states preparing to make use of CDP's data gathering and analytical skills.
Tuttle, 54, who most recently was managing director of METStrategies in Alexandria, Va., said the increasingly national scope of arts data collection activities makes independent status that much more important. More data from more states and more organizations is the goal, she said.
"It becomes a more powerful tool" as data collection spreads and increases, she said. And as the scope of the project expands nationally, "it's really critical that the board relates to that [national] community."
Glen S. Howard, CDP's board chair and general counsel and managing director of legal affairs at Pew, said the goal is "to provide the [cultural] sector with an online tool to manage their finances and to collect data from their users."
It provides hard numbers for advocates seeking to make the case for the importance of the arts to economic development, he noted. Organizations also use CDP data to support appeals to funders.
"There's a significant need for this kind of data," said Tuttle, who starts March 4, prior to the project's April 1 move to new headquarters at Fourth and Market Streets.
"Our job is to help strengthen the cultural enterprise."
Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594, email@example.com, or @SPSalisbury on Twitter