The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance release results of TempCheck, a quarterly survey of current conditions within the cultural community

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance today released the first results of TempCheck, a quarterly survey gauging the impact of the economic climate on the region’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations.  Ninety-two organizations representing a wide range of budget sizes and disciplines responded to a questionnaire assessing the effects of the economy on their fundraising, programming, and other activities.

“Cultural organizations are incredibly valuable to our communities, especially in times of stress and change,” said Peggy Amsterdam, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “This survey demonstrates that they are also adaptive and resilient in this current financial crisis.”

Findings of the survey include:

Earned income from single tickets sales, subscriptions, and memberships is holding steady. Revenue from investments and other sources, however, is trending downward, with 24% of respondents reporting a decline of more than 25% in investments and other earned income. This issue is particularly acute in larger cultural organizations.

On the whole organizations are not cutting back on the amount of their programming, but they are seeking ways to decrease program expenses. Seventy-four percent of respondents haven’t and don’t expect to decrease program activity, yet 23% have already reduced budgets for their programs, and 51% expect to do so in the next six months. A quarter of respondents are altering their programming to lower costs, and 47% expect to do so in the next six months. 

Corporate support is declining, with 35% of respondents reporting less income from corporate donors. This finding holds true across organizational disciplines and budget sizes.

Investment in staffing, marketing and development is holding fairly steady, with just over a quarter (26%) of respondents having reduced staff size or hours to lower costs, while the majority (67%) haven’t and don’t expect to at this time. Organizations are continuing to invest in fundraising and marketing, but many are implementing different strategies to maximize the impact of those efforts. “We have changed how we spend our marketing dollars,” said one respondent, “with an increase in more direct marketing approaches and more aggressive advertising. To do this, we have diverted monies from collateral materials.” Regarding fundraising, another respondent stated that, “we are intensifying contact even with modest donors.”

Respondents expect that collaborations, mergers and consolidations will occur. Forty-five percent of respondents have, or expect to, collaborate or consolidate programs or operations with another organization.

More respondents felt things are likely to get worse rather than improve over the next six months. Forty-two percent of respondents believe that things are likely to get worse over the next six months, while only 10% feel things are likely to get better. Forty-eight percent say things are likely to stay the same. “We’re just moving along and doing what we can right now during these tough times,” noted one respondent. “Our goal is to continue to keep the arts alive and bring quality performances to the area.”

The Cultural Alliance plans to field TempCheck on a quarterly basis to measure shifts over time.  The survey will be administered again in April 2009.

1 Comment

  1. Arts groups seem to ride storm
    New survey looks at economy’s impact on area culture.

    By Stephan Salisbury

    Inquirer Culture Writer
    Arts groups in the Philadelphia area are beginning to feel the bite of the fiscal crisis, but a new survey demonstrates surprising resilience in ticket sales, subscriptions, and seasonal memberships at regional venues.

    There has, however, been a significant decline in governmental and corporate arts support over the last six months, the survey shows.

    Income from investments has also taken a dive, and individual and foundation giving are down as well, but to a lesser extent.

    Conducted by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the survey, to be released today, is the first to take a broad look at how the region’s cultural organizations are faring in the worsening financial climate.

    “These are challenging times for the economy, but this demonstrates there is an important role for the arts,” said Tom Kaiden, chief operating officer of the cultural alliance, a service group.

    “Cultural organizations have a clear mission and they’re working hard to respond to the need,” said Kaiden, analyzing relatively stable ticket and membership levels. “In times of stress . . . the arts offer relief and connect us with our shared values.”

    Overall, the survey of 92 area organizations of varying sizes and from a broad range of disciplines reported that earned income had increased or remained relatively flat at most responding institutions. Just-released national figures show similar stability in earned revenues in recent months.


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