Pew plans to 'streamline' cultural grants

Posted: March 23, 2013

The Pew Charitable Trusts plans to "streamline" its cultural grantmaking, eliminating a program for dispensing unrestricted operating funds and creating a program to assist organizations' long-term prospects by fostering audience growth, upgrading technology, and supporting future needs, according to Pew officials.

Once approved by the board of trustees, all regular arts and culture grantmaking will be consolidated within the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, a quasi-independent unit of the $6 billion charity.

The center's budget will also increase from $8 million to $10 million.

Officials said the changes should begin to take effect in 2014. The operating-funds program will be gone by the end of 2015, they said. Pew will continue such grants, but they will be attached to funding for specific artistic projects.

Additionally, grants in dance, theater, and music will be combined into one category, performance.

"We're looking to support the very best work regardless of genre," said Paula Marincola, head of the Pew center.

Donald Kimelman, head of Pew's Philadelphia program, said the changes would "streamline Pew's arts grantmaking while providing the center an even fuller set of tools to enrich the region's cultural scene."

In an interview Thursday, he said the changes "reaffirm . . . our commitment to arts and culture in Philadelphia."

Tom Kaiden, president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, an advocacy and service organization, said it appeared that grant funds "will actually increase" over what they were last year.

Since the center's inception in 2006, it and the operating-grant program have jointly distributed $67 million - roughly $9.5 million annually. The center will now draw on $10 million for grantmaking, with lower administrative costs.

"That's a positive thing," said Kaiden, noting growing concern among local cultural organizations that Pew would withdraw from involvement in the region.

The philanthropy is formally no longer a foundation but a public charity, a switch made several years ago, and it has shifted much of its attention and operations to Washington.

"Pew has a large national presence and a significant presence in D.C., so a continuation of their commitment to culture in Philadelphia is certainly important," Kaiden said.

As recently as 2003, Pew gave between $14 million and $15 million annually to local arts organizations, according to Inquirer accounts; in the '90s, its arts grants were in the $18 million to $22 million range. Kimelman noted that Pew is "not primarily a grantmaking organization" anymore.


Contact Stephan Salisbury

at 215-854-5594, ssalisbury@phillynews.com.

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