New city budget increases funds for the arts
Allocation for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund increases to slightly more than pre-pandemic levels.
The fiscal 2023 budget, passed by City Council Thursday and going into effect on July 1, contains largely good news for the city’s arts and culture sector, much battered by pandemic-related cutbacks in the last two years.
At the least, there is no bad news of radical cuts in operating subsidies.
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the main vehicle for supporting arts organizations all over the city by allocating peer-reviewed, competitive grants, saw its budget increase to $3.5 million for fiscal 2023, a far cry from the first pandemic budget that initially sought to zero out the fund and eventually settled at $1 million.
Fiscal 2022′s Cultural Fund budget rose to $2.5 million. The 2023 budget increases the Cultural Fund allocation again, this time to slightly above its last pre-pandemic level.
The Mural Arts Program has been budgeted in at $3.28 million, up about $600,000 from the current budget. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will receive a subsidy of a little over $2 million — the same as it received in 2022. (The city owns the art museum building.)
About $800,000 has been budgeted for the African American Museum in Philadelphia, an increase over last year’s $500,000, and an acknowledgment that museum needs extra help in its efforts to move from its current building at Seventh and Arch Streets. The museum’s building, built during the Bicentennial in 1976, is cramped and awkwardly designed, officials say.
Council member Isaiah Thomas, a supporter of expanded public support for the arts, called Philadelphia’s arts sector “an economic driver and job creator” and more than worthy of increased governmental support. “When we illuminate the arts — we bring people, dollars, and culture to Philly,” said Thomas.
His colleague, council member Katherine Gilmore Richardson, pushed particularly hard for increased funding for the African American Museum and Mural Arts.
She noted that the arts and cultural sector has “an estimated $4 billion impact” on the city economy annually. “Ensuring we increase funding for arts and culture remains one of my top priorities as a member of City Council,” she said.