The Playgoer: What's Up in Philly?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's Up in Philly?

Two interesting stories out of the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, from arts-beat reporter Stephan Salisbury.

First the bad news: the Pennsylvania legislature has just voted to extend, for the first time the state's 6% sales tax to cultural institutions and entertainment venues. Worried about these mandated increases to ticket prices and the effect on already strapped audiences, arts groups are not mollified by the state's plan to increase arts funding in return and are also protesting the fact that "The tax would not be imposed on movies or sports events." Hmm.

The good news?

People of color are far more likely to participate in some cultural activity during the course of a year than are white people.

Ditto families with children over childless couples.

Yet people who attend a performance or a museum are not likely to return within a year, or maybe even longer.

These conclusions, drawn from a report scheduled for release today at the annual meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, represent a particular challenge for the region's arts organizations, alliance officials suggest... Some findings, such as the greater cultural participation of families with children, contradict prevailing conventional wisdom. And the higher "cultural engagement" - as alliance officials call it - of African American and Hispanic communities is of enormous significance to arts groups, particularly in the context of the rapid growth of those already large populations in the area.

The alliance's 73-page report, Research Into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities, mines the data from five other studies and concludes, in the words of alliance president Peggy Amsterdam, that opportunities are out there "despite the economic challenges" now confronting cultural organizations.

Find those silver linings where you can, Philadelphians...

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