The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance believes it can help double audience participation at area arts events over the next 12 years.

And the Pew Charitable Trusts has put up $5 million to help finance an elaborate marketing effort - called Engage 2020 - to push for that goal, officials intend to announce today.

The Wallace Foundation and the Philadelphia Foundation also are providing funds for the project's initial $6.3 million, four-year effort.

"What we're talking about is getting more Philadelphians involved in arts and culture," said Tom Kaiden, chief operating officer of the alliance. "It's fundamentally about changing the arts experience to make it more accessible to more people."

In practical terms, this means that a substantial amount of money will flow into marketing research and planning, officials said.

A key element will be the creation of what the alliance has dubbed the Cultural Engagement Index, which will seek to gauge regional cultural activity through periodic readings of such key statistics as audience size and diversity. Over time, the alliance hopes the index will measure shifting patterns of cultural behavior.

The index will also serve as the measure of cultural participation, which the alliance is seeking to double by 2020. Participation is an expansive concept that goes well beyond traditional attendance - about 18 million attended cultural events in the five-county region last year, officials said - to encompass activities as wide-ranging as singing in church to collecting art for the home.

In addition, a two-year study of demographics, audience likes and dislikes, and audience values will pull together a vast amount of data in "a readable format" for leaders of cultural organizations.

Grants will also be made to individual organizations to explore and implement marketing strategies related to the index. And marketing consultants will be matched with select organizations to foster market-development planning.

The Internet will receive attention as well, with the alliance's PhillyFunGuide.com, along with its discount-ticket feature, FunSavers, receiving radical upgrades designed to enhance interactivity.

Kaiden said the whole program would be about what he called engagement.

"Cultural organizations have talked about attendance and participation for years," he said. "But if we think about attendance, we're thinking too narrowly. The use of the word

engagement

is deliberate. We need to involve people as more than just passive participants sitting in the dark and politely applauding at the end of a performance."

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