It’s our story, let’s tell it.

PA CultureCheck is a study by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and PA Humanities to gather the voices of Pennsylvania’s cultural, arts, and humanities organizations, along with other nonprofits and community groups. The two primary goals were to continue tracking the post-pandemic recovery and regrowth and to look deeper at the many ways organizations are engaging with their communities. The results inform local and statewide advocacy efforts, educate grantmakers and practitioners about the latest trends, inspire future research, and help build a stronger and more responsive cultural community.

The Cultural Alliance has covered the effects of the pandemic as well as recovery from the pandemic by arts and culture organizations since 2020. This is the second year the Cultural Alliance and PA Humanities have conducted CultureCheck, and it has now expanded to include virtual listening sessions. The results of PA CultureCheck reveal that the cultural sector is still feeling the effects of the pandemic but continues to be a powerful asset to economic development with many opportunities for growth.

The future of this sector lies not in its past, but how we move forward from here.

Data highlights

  • 112 survey responses from across Southeastern PA. 271 survey responses from all of PA
  • Attendance approximately 22% down from 2019, with varying degrees of impact across organization type; performing arts organizations especially affected
  • Operations returning to normal but hiring and volunteer participation especially challenging, with 58% of organizations across Southeastern PA reporting hiring difficulties
  • Cultural organizations are embedded in communities – 95% partner with community organizations, addressing issues like education (66%), access and inclusion (60%), youth development (38%) and mental health and wellness (29%)
  • During listening sessions, organizations reported seeking innovative ways to work and interact with audiences. New challenges like inflation and audience members commuting to work/downtown less frequently have arisen.

What we learned

  • The arts and humanities community is expansive and diverse, including many different kinds of organizations with unique assets and interests.
  • Collectively, they drive innovation and growth in our communities and economies.
  • Increased funding and support from businesses, philanthropy, governments, and the media is essential to reflect our art and humanities community’s significant economic contribution and national prominence.
  • Our sector amplifies our community’s unique cultural identity and functions as powerful connectors by building bridges, lifting missing voices, and maintaining crucial partnerships in an often divided state.
  • Now is the time for cultural workers to redefine our moment and to discover new ways to grow audiences, engage on a deeper level, and develop new partnerships.

PA CultureCheck in the news


Various organizations from communities of all sizes across the state participated in PA CultureCheck. In addition to the survey, in fall 2023 we held two listening sessions of arts and cultural community members (many of whom had completed the survey) to hear additional feedback and input on this study: one held with arts and culture leaders and workers from across the state, and one held specifically focusing on Southeastern PA.

  • 112 participating organizations from across Southeastern Pennsylvania (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties)
  • 73% having an annual budget under $1.5 million. 51% had budgets under $500,000
  • 20% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizations (35% of the population Southeastern PA are BIPOC residents)


PA CultureCheck illustrates the expansiveness and diversity of Southeastern PA’s cultural sector. Its vital work touches and inspires our communities and grows our economies in many ways, such as through historical sites, zoos, arts centers, and libraries. During our listening sessions, cultural workers were eager to connect with each other and share their experiences and learnings. This shows the need for increasing opportunities for regional and statewide collaboration. Data on the sector from PA CultureCheck and other sources is vital for making informed, strategic decisions.

Project Timeline

May & June 2023
Survey conducted

July – August 2023
Data analysis

August – September 2023
Preliminary data to key stakeholders

October 17 & 18
Listening Sessions

November 1, 2023
Presentation to PA Arts & Humanities Statewide Convening

Incorporate community feedback

February 2024
Final report release

Participating Organizations By Type

No Data Found

Organization Type

Libraries & Archives


Historical Museums & Societies


Art, Science, & Other Museums


Performing Arts


Community & Education


Service, Support, & Other




46% (52) of all participating organizations are Museums, Historical Organizations, and Libraries.


Many organizations continue to regain audiences but uncertainty remains about the “new normal” and what the future holds. Some areas of the sector have seen unique shifts and patterns of growth, with performing arts and museums adapting and building in different ways and rates.

  • 32% of organizations report that their attendance is “back to or above 2019 levels,” compared with 10% in the 2022 survey
  • These effects are not evenly distributed — performing arts organizations are more affected, with only 15% report having fully regained attendance, compared to 41% for museums, historical organizations, and libraries
  • 29% of respondents replied that they are unsure when attendance might fully recover
  • Sector-wide the median organization still reports a 22% decline in attendance compared to 2019
  • During listening sessions, organizations, especially in the performing arts, noted that much of the recovery of attendees comes from single ticket buyers, with subscriber levels not recovering, possibly accelerating a trend away from subscribers occurring over the last few decades
  • During listening sessions, organizations adapted programming and identified new audiences during the pandemic as work habits and locations changed; they are seeking ways to keep those gains while bringing back past audiences and events


Southeastern PA’s resilient cultural sector is working to innovatively navigate the aftermath of the pandemic and new inflationary pressures. Some organizations have reached or surpassed their pre-pandemic attendance levels, but the path to a full recovery is complex and multifaceted. This period of transformation is characterized by adaptive strategies and necessary adjustments. For example, the performing arts are now attracting more single ticket buyers instead of subscribers, indicating a shift from traditional models. Across the cultural sector, organizations are responding to changing audience behaviors and preferences against the backdrop of a challenging financial landscape. The sector’s ability to continue thriving hinges on greater overall support from the public, philanthropy, business, government, and media while recognizing the unique challenges and recovery paths of different cultural organizations.

"When do you expect attendance to return to 2019 levels?"

Results compared: 2022 to 2023

No Data Found

Percentage of Organizations with Attendance Back to/Above 2019 Levels

By organization type

No Data Found

Historical Museums & Societies; Art, Science, & Other Museums; and Libraries & Archives are combined here as Museums, Historical, Libraries. Media organizations not shown; no significant in-person attendance reported.


Top concerns are the ability to gain or retain attendance, encourage community participation, and hiring new staff. While we heard in the listening sessions that organizations are working to innovate and develop new business models and ways of working, they are now grappling with inflation and new costs of doing business with fewer volunteers and staff.

  • Only 21% of organizations report that their programs are operating at reduced capacity, compared with 33% of organizations in 2022
  • 46% of organizations report a reduced number of volunteers. This effect is not evenly distributed — a larger percentage of libraries (55%) report a reduction compared to a lower percentage of performing art organizations (30%)
  • 58% of organizations report difficulty in hiring
  • During the listening sessions, a frequent comment was that, over the last year, organizations have faced increased inflationary pressures
  • Gaining/retaining attendance and community participation is a top concern according to polls in the listening session and the sector is looking for ways to collaborate on promotion and develop relations with the media, business, and local government to rebrand their community’s assets


Cultural workers need space, time, and capital to innovate. In light of the evolving landscape, operations within the sector must be agile and forward-thinking. Organizations are called upon to balance innovation with sustainable practices to ensure resilience in the face of economic and societal shifts. Hiring and volunteer recruitment are persistent issues and are taking a toll on an already stretched sector and cultural workers’ well being. Embracing collaboration, diversification of staffing and audiences, and finding new ways to engage volunteers to build capacity will be key in maintaining relevance and impact. There is a need for stronger media collaboration and partnerships with business and local government to aid in community and economic development, as well as promotional efforts. Organizations find themselves needing to be more flexible and innovative in their operational strategies, such as building new marketing for single-ticket buyers or scaling back on the number of productions.

"How has hiring been?"

No Data Found

Somewhat or very difficult


About the same


Somewhat or very easy


Other / Unsure


"How many volunteers at your organization compared to 2019?"

No Data Found

Listening Session: What Are Your Biggest Challenges Right Now?*

No Data Found

Attendance and community participation


No Data Found

Funding and donations


No Data Found

Capacity and hiring staff


* Results of an instant poll during the live listening sessions conducted over Zoom


Cultural organizations are engaged with and addressing the needs of their communities in many ways, such as supporting job training, youth education, and health and wellness. Their audiences are diverse and often include immigrants, veterans, unhoused, incarcerated, and victims of gun violence. Arts and culture workers bridge gaps, forge connections, and form meaningful partnerships, particularly in challenging times.

  • 79% of organizations partner with schools; of the organizations that work with schools, almost a third (32%) work with ten or more schools.
  • Many work with students in multiple locations: 72% of organizations work with students on school premises and 77% of organizations work with students in the organizations’ facilities.
  • Over one quarter of cultural organizations (26%) directly engage in economic development activities.
  • During the listening sessions, it was reported that building community identity and pride are integral to the role of cultural institutions. The contributions to a sense of place and community cohesion was highlighted, especially in terms of engaging new residents and reflecting the diversity of the community.
  • Discussions also highlighted the importance of uplifting diverse voices and stories and focused on the role of cultural institutions in promoting diversity and inclusion within their communities.


The cultural sector actively addresses social and educational issues while helping to grow thriving, economically vibrant communities. Cultural work plays a key role in areas such as neighborhood revitalization, youth engagement, public safety, and health and wellness. In challenging times, the sector is instrumental in amplifying underrepresented voices, leading with equity, and creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Organizations note the need to re-engage with local communities and attract new, more diverse audiences, with a greater emphasis on inclusivity and broadening the reach of cultural activities. By providing opportunities to connect and learn while helping to fuel our economy, the cultural sector contributes to the health, well-being, and support of our recovering communities. This is also critical for shaping social cohesion, cultural identity, and civic vitality. However, the economic and creative assets and potential that the sector brings to revitalizing our communities are underutilized and under-recognized.

"Which social issues does your organization address in its work?"

No Data Found

95% of organizations partner with community organizations, an increase of 8% from previous year

Listening Session: Community impact of your work?*


Educational & cultural opportunities


Uplifting diverse voices and stories


Economic development


Building identity and local pride

* Results of an instant poll during the live listening sessions conducted over Zoom


PA CultureCheck emphasizes the resilience, adaptability, and innovation of Southeastern PA’s cultural sector — but also the need for continued support. Here are two ways you can help:

Advocate: Show your support for the cultural sector by contacting your elected officials to encourage additional funding, policies, and support for cultural initiatives. Sign up for advocacy alerts to be updated on important advocacy issues affecting arts and culture in Southeastern Pennsylvania:

Engage: The work of nonprofit arts and culture organizations is made possible by financial contributions. When possible, consider donating to your local organizations, artists, and projects. Offer your time and skills to assist in activities and events, including board membership roles. Additionally, consider the gift of your time and attention! Volunteer your skills in activities and events, including board membership roles. And remember, in our digital world, the best way to stay engaged is by connecting on social media and receiving email newsletters.

Thank you to all our PA CultureCheck participants

Bucks County Historical Society (Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle)DoylestownBucksHistorical Museums & Societies
Historic Fallsington IncFallsingtonBucksHistorical Museums & Societies
La FioccoCarversvilleBucksPerforming Arts
Lenape Chamber EnsemblePipersvilleBucksPerforming Arts
Atglen Public LibraryAtglenChesterLibraries & Archives
Avon Grove LibraryWest GroveChesterLibraries & Archives
Chester County History CenterWest ChesterChesterHistorical Museums & Societies
Coatesville Area Public LibraryCoatesvilleChesterLibraries & Archives
Jenkins Arboretum & GardensDevonChesterArt, Science, & Other Museums
Longwood GardensKennett SquareChesterArt, Science, & Other Museums
Oxford Arts AllianceOxfordChesterCommunity & Education
Colonial Pennsylvania PlantationNewtown SquareDelawareHistorical Museums & Societies
Community Arts CenterWallingfordDelawareCommunity & Education
Delaware County LibrariesMediaDelawareLibraries & Archives
Folcroft Public LibraryFolcroftDelawareLibraries & Archives
H-CAN (Havertown Community Action Network) Arts Advocacy ArtSquadHavertownDelawareService, Support, & Other
Helen Kate Furness Free LibraryWallingfordDelawareLibraries & Archives
Keep Music AliveBrookhavenDelawareService, Support, & Other
Lansdowne Public LibraryLansdowneDelawareLibraries & Archives
Middletown Free LibraryMediaDelawareLibraries & Archives
Newlin Grist MillGlen MillsDelawareHistorical Museums & Societies
Newtown Public LibraryNewtown SquareDelawareLibraries & Archives
Sharon Hill Public LibrarySharon HillDelawareLibraries & Archives
Springfield Township LibrarySpringfieldDelawareLibraries & Archives
Swarthmore Public LibrarySwarthmoreDelawareLibraries & Archives
Upper Darby Township & Sellers Memorial Free Public LibraryUpper DarbyDelawareLibraries & Archives
Abington Art CenterJenkintownMontgomeryCommunity & Education
Bryn Mawr Film InstituteBryn MawrMontgomeryMedia
Cheltenham Township Library SystemGlensideMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Free Library of Springfield TownshipWyndmoorMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Harmony Theater IncBlue BellMontgomeryPerforming Arts
Indian Valley Public LibraryTelfordMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Jenkintown LibraryJenkintownMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Lower Merion Library SystemArdmoreMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Montgomery County Library DistrictNorristownMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
North Wales Area LibraryNorth WalesMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Pennypacker MillsSchwenksvilleMontgomeryHistorical Museums & Societies
Pickleberry PieCheltenhamMontgomeryCommunity & Education
Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage CenterPennsburgMontgomeryHistorical Museums & Societies
The Temple Judea MuseumElkins ParkMontgomeryArt, Science, & Other Museums
Theatre HorizonNorristownMontgomeryPerforming Arts
Union Library of HatboroHatboroMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
Upper Moreland Free Public LibraryWillow GroveMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
VoxAmaDeusGladwyneMontgomeryPerforming Arts
William Jeanes Memorial LibraryLafayette HillMontgomeryLibraries & Archives
American Philosophical SocietyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Anna Crusis Feminist ChoirPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Arden Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Aurora Classical of Culture Trust Greater PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Barnes FoundationPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Broad Street ReviewPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaMedia
BuildaBridge InternationalPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Caribbean Community in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
Conservation Center for Art & Historic ArtifactsPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Curtis Institute of MusicPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
Da Vinci Art AlliancePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic SitePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion IncPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Enchantment Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
First Person ArtsPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
FringeArtsPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of MusicPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
Greater Philadelphia Cultural AlliancePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Greater Philadelphia Film OfficePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Grounded Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
G-Town RadioPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaMedia
Historic GermantownPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Historic RittenhouseTown IncPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Historical DreamPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaMedia
History Making Productions LLCPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaMedia
Independence Seaport MuseumPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Inis Nua Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
InterAct Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
James E Brewton FoundationPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Kun-Yang Lin DancersPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Lantern Theater CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts DBA World Cafe LivePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Mendelssohn Chorus of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Mt Airy Barn DancePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Museum of the American RevolutionPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
National Constitution CenterPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Network for New MusicPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Ollin Yoliztli CalmecacPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
PA HumanitiesPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Patricia MasarachiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Penn Museum and GPADCPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Performing Arts TraditionsPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Philadelphia Archaeological ForumPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies
Philadelphia Dance CompanyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Philadelphia Freedom BandPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Philadelphia Scenic WorksPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Philadelphia SculptorsPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Philadelphia Sketch ClubPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Philadelphia's Magic GardensPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
Play On PhillyPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
PlayPennPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Project CapoeiraPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
Second State PressPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaMedia
Singing CityPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
The Athenaeum of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaLibraries & Archives
The Clay StudioPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaCommunity & Education
The Franklin InstitutePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
The Galleries at Moore College of Art & DesignPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaArt, Science, & Other Museums
The Pennsylvania Ballet Association DBA Philadelphia BalletPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
The Philadelphia ThingPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Theatre ExilePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Theatre PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Travelers Aid International PHL AirportPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaService, Support, & Other
Walnut St TheatrePhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Wilma TheaterPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPerforming Arts
Wyck AssociationPhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaHistorical Museums & Societies

PA CultureCheck and the work of the Cultural Alliance is made possible through the generous support of committed individuals and institutions. Donate today!

For questions about the PA CultureCheck, please contact Kristen Vinh:

Funding for PA CultureCheck has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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