A Study of Cultural Leaders’ Reflections on Cultural Participation: Philadelphia Cultural Participation Benchmark Project

The Philadelphia Cultural Participation Benchmark Project, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, was a collaboration of the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), RFA, and Audience Insight LLC. The goal of the Benchmark Project was to develop reliable information on the breadth and depth of cultural participation in North Philadelphia and Camden. In the spring of 2004, RFA conducted a series of focus groups to gain a fuller understanding of the meanings cultural participation holds for residents of the neighborhoods and the factors that encourage or inhibit participation. This data informed the quantitative research conducted by SIAP and Audience Insight, which included a survey of neighborhood residents and analysis of organizational data. The research team then interpreted findings in collaboration with local cultural leaders, to provide a set of grounded conclusions about opportunities for expanding social engagement in the arts and culture and strengthening communities through cultural participation.