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The Reinvestment Fund documents the effects of creative activity and cultural engagement in Philadelphia.

The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), in collaboration with the Social Impact of the Arts Project at the University of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, continues to examine the ways creative activity and cultural engagement play a role in neighborhood economic development and what we call the Architecture of Community.

“Given their interrelated webs of universities, cultural institutions, design firms and culturally diverse population, all of which help attract creative workers and spur creative content, cities – like Philadelphia – are naturally positioned to take advantage of this sector.  Yet, if we develop a more comprehensive view of how creative activity, particularly community-based arts and culture, interacts within cities, we can stimulate even more integrated and effective action in the development of distressed urban places.”

Creativity and Neighborhood Development, Strategies for Community Development, Jeremy Nowak

With generous funding from ArtPlace and the National Endowment for the Arts, this partnership will further its research and produce a web tool with access to a robust, spatial database that can inform planning, marketing, policy development and public investment strategies in Philadelphia.

So, what’s our plan?

First, researchers at Penn and TRF will continue to analyze the cross-section between cultural assets and social and community indicators.  They’ll construct a Philadelphia livability index that will link information on neighborhood cultural assets with other relevant indices including demographic diversity, housing quality, affordability and market vitality, access and quality of public transportation, and environmental quality.  And, finally, they’ll take a look at the relationship between neighborhood cultural assets and changes in indicators of social well being over time between 1996 and 2012.

Then, loaded with the results of these geographic analyses, TRF will leverage its cloud-based geo-database, www.policymap.com, to create an interactive web tool for the City to: identify spatial clusters of emerging creative activity to facilitate public and private investment in specific neighborhoods, promote the City as a “location of choice” through the locational display of cultural assets, and advocate for new financial and capacity building tools organized around creative sector activity.

The tool will additionally be designed as a networking hub for artists, creative entrepreneurs, cultural workers, and community activists.

Finally, the results of the analysis and the availability of the tool will pave the way for the preparation of a White Paper laying out guidance for an Arts and Culture Investment Strategy for the City.

At every step, we’ll engage with larger groups of stakeholders to maximize community participation.  We are planning for a strategic approach to building awareness, fostering communication, and providing opportunities for public feedback and engagement, including a print, web and social media campaign.

Under a Chairman’s Grant from the NEA this past year, our team carried out a set of initial data collection and research efforts.  You’ll see the results of that research go live this fall – in the meantime, check out one of the maps below showing the Number of Creative and Cultural Businesses (like visual and performing arts, music, dance, craft, design and more) across the City of Philadelphia.  Pan around or zoom in to take the map to your area of interest.  The darker the purple, the more arts-related businesses there are in the area.

Powered by www.policymap.com, an online mapping tool and data warehouse.

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