V-JAM Philly Session Leader: The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

Maud Lyon, president of The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, sees the dire situation of the Philadelphia jazz community and is working to do something about it. “Jazz suffers from both the loss of work at nonprofit venues and the closing of restaurants, bars, and clubs,” Lyons explains. “The majority of musicians are freelancers, making this situation especially difficult and uncertain. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is doing all we can to bring you resources, and to amplify your voice to leaders!”

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) has been amplifying the voices of 460 member organizations since 1972. GPCA reports on the health and growth of the arts sector; awards grants in partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; performs marketing and audience development through Phillyfunguide.com and Funsavers; and offers professional development, policy, and community engagement.

In 1991, they helped establish the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF) and worked to re-establish the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy (OACCE) in 2008. In response to COVID-19, these three entities recently launched the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL to support artists as well as small and mid-sized arts organizations, and has raised $3.6 million so far. 

Additionally, GPCA is gathering data from member organizations to document the impact of the novel coronavirus and providing timely information on their philaculture.org/coronavirus page, as well as hosting webinars on how to apply for Paycheck Protection Program and making the case to individual donors. “We’re transforming the Phillyfunguide.com into a central place for over 130 virtual experiences to keep arts and culture in the public eye and to send traffic to the organizations that are streaming and posting content,” Lyon says.

Lyon says she has been impressed by the range and creativity of arts organizations continuing to serve the public: “There’s music lessons by Facetime, lots of entertainment, educational materials for kids to support beleaguered parents.”

“Music is the best virtual experience,” says Lyon. “From original hand-washing songs to Zoom choir performances to pre-recorded performances, music is helping all of us get through these troubled and frightening times.”

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